In Northern Virginia we are blessed with a lot of options if you like biking. While it is not Colorado or the west coast, we do have great variety with both on and off-road options.
If you need the speed and have a road bike, the trails in the area (in particular the Mount Vernon Trail and the W&OD trail) will give you plenty of mileage. The W&OD trail may get busy in Fairfax County and Arlington during commute times and weekends, it is possible to enter the zen-zone for extended periods of time in the early morning hours (or on the sections past Reston.)
For local mountain biking there are some great shorter trails in the Reston area around Lake Fairfax and down Difficult Run. Around the lake you have a good mix of paved roads, gravel roads, single track and some more challenging rocky portions.
Also, starting in the Great Falls area, you have the 40 mile Cross County Trail going all the way from Great Falls Park to the Occoquan Regional Park where you can actually go camping to a special area family friendly, there’s equipment in the camp , you just need to bring the best camping cot you can find, a sleeping bag, food and snacks of your choice and lots of energy to have fun.
Then there is the trail which is a mix with offroad sections down Difficult Run, then down along the Accotink Stream until Lake Accotink, then past the dam through Springfiled and along Pohick Creek until you get to the old Lorton Jail (the trail goes straight through the old jail grounds) and then ends at the Occoquan Regional Park. The trail is not well marked in sections so you will want to print out a map or bring your Garmin to stay on track.
If you want to really do some serious mountain biking in the area, few places beat Fountainhead Regional Park past Lorton. The single track trail is just awesome and it has three interconnecting loops of increasing difficulty (green, blue and black.) In 2014 they really stepped up things with a new black loop with drops, jumps and rock gardens. If you decide to try the new black loop – be very very careful the first few times – or you will end up with broken chains, wheels, ego and worse.
The trail is single directional and you can get a good hour or two of continuous riding out of it. The loops are physically demanding – lots of ups and down. The trails are also beautiful and goes back and forth up the hills on sometimes banked turns over streams and down near the lake. Truly a perfect and strenuous trip for an early morning.
Lastly, if you have been to Fountainhead a few times and feel that you are in ok shape – I would suggest a humbling-trip to Gambrill State Park in Maryland (just past Frederick.) While you may be able to bike 99% of Fountainhead without getting off the bike with some practice, I would like to hear from you if you managed to bike 99% of the yellow trail counterclockwise with the extension… Humble-pie indeed…
If you are looking for a home by a mountain bike area like Fountainhead (or near one of the many bike paths) please let us know. We know Northern Virginia real estate and can help you find the perfect home in a great location. Click here to see some of the homes for sale near the W&OD bike trail.