The Mount Vernon Bike Trail is a Gem for All
ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Mount Vernon Bike Trail is a gem to many in the area as a place to get away from the traffic and commotion of every day life in this area. A ride along the trail with views of the river are just what is needed for many that live along the trail, as well as cyclists all over Fairfax County and the tourists who rent a bike in Old Town and venture out on the trail.
The trail is unofficially cut into three parts: the nine-mile stretch from George Washington’s Mount Vernon Plantation; a mile or two through Old Town, Alexandria; and about six more miles up the river to Key Bridge. From there, cyclists can continue onto other trails through Arlington or Georgetown in Washington, D.C.
According to the Friends of the Mount Vernon Bike Trail, the trail was the idea of Ellen Pickering and Barbara Lynch, two locals who tossed around the idea in early 1972, gathered signatures, reaching out to the National Park Service, and organizing volunteers to build the original 4.5 miles of trail between Belle Haven Park and Memorial Bridge. It is the only trail connection between two major Potomac River Bridges and provides a critical link to regional trails, particularly Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, Four Mile Run, and Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Mount Vernon Trail is designated as a segment of both the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and East Coast Greenway.
Currently, the National Park Service is conducting a study on the trail to assess the condition and safety and develop a vision for improving the facility based on transportation industry best practices. This Mount Vernon Trail Corridor study is the first comprehensive analysis of data to inform park operations and maintenance needs and identify long-term capital Investments to improve the visitor experience, the NPS said.
They have collected a significant amount of data on the condition, usage, crash and history along the Mount Vernon Trail. Internal and external stakeholder engagement, a review of existing conditions, and an assessment of the trail design resulted is a series of wide-ranging recommendations for:
– Trail signage
– Safety Improvements
– Trail connections
– Visitor counting programs
– Pavement and bridge maintenance and vegetation management
* 1978: NPS built 1.8-mile paved section from Alexandria Avenue to Waynewood Avenue, and the Airport Authority connected the trail to the airport’s bike parking.
* 1980: Army Corps of Engineers connected the Four Mile Run Trail to the Mount Vernon Trail.
* 1983: Potomac River Generating Station funded a cantilevered trail section around its east side.
* 1988: NPS expanded the trail to Roosevelt Island, where a new bridge connected it to the Custis Trail, and another trail segment was built in Fort Hunt Park which had previously been on-road.
* 1992: Crystal City Connector Trail opened.
* 1994: Arlington County begins building connections between Mount Vernon Trail near Memorial Circle and the sidewalk along Washington Boulevard.
* 2007: Bridge over north entrance to National Airport was rebuilt and trail was widened.
* 2009: Woodrow Wilson Bridge connects with the Mount Vernon Trail.
* 2011: NPS rebuilt the Humpback Bridge, widened the trail, and added a barrier. NPS also added trail tunnels for safer passage between Columbia Island Marina and the trail.
* 2012: NPS realigned the trail at Memorial Circle.
* 2013: Woodrow Wilson Bridge approach was rebuilt.
* 2016: Trail was realigned and widened next to the airport.
* 2017: NPS rebuilt Roosevelt Island Parking lot to widen the trail and smooth curves.