happyly approved

Mount Vernon Trail from Rosslyn to Washington's Estate

Theodore Roosevelt Island Park, Washington, DC 20001

Dawn to dusk


run, hike

Hit the Mount Vernon Trail on foot or bike to see Northern Virginia in all its glory!

One of the many amazing things about living in the DC area is the public space that will be eternally respected and protected throughout the DMV. The Mount Vernon Trail is one of those gifts. Carved out of prime real estate along the Potomac River, this paved path is preserved for bikers, walkers, runners, and strollers.

It is well maintained with beautiful open views of the river as well as long pockets of wooded areas and a great diversity of local wildlife sightings. It has parking lots, restrooms, and picnic areas spaced out along the way. You can observe planes taking off and landing up close at Gravelly Point and lay footfalls on the centuries-old streets of Old Town Alexandria. 

The trail begins in Rosslyn and runs almost entirely uninterrupted, with just a small portion following city streets. It is part of the much larger mid-Atlantic Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, and it really earns that right. Basically every couple of miles you are taking in a whole new experience, which is an accurate assessment of our city as a whole.

The 18-mile trail runs along the Potomac and George Washington Parkway and has so many naturally built-in points of interest. It begins near Theodore Roosevelt Island and passes through Gravelly Point. Here you can stop and watch the planes coming in and out of Reagan. Along the way, there is a path to take to Abingdon Plantation Historic Site.

If you're looking for a meal or snack, break to dine and shop in Old Town Alexandria. Navigating the trail in Old Town slows you down a bit, but that's ok because it is a great place to stop. Windmill Hill Park and Jones Point Park Playgrounds are conveniently located along the trail in the Old Town area.

About two miles after crossing under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge at Jones Point Park, you will reach Dyke Marsh Wildlife Refuge. If you are looking for a quiet place to start your journey this is an ideal point on the trail and a prime place to picnic. The parking lot has ample room and there is still another seven to eight miles to cover before the trail ends at Mount Vernon Estate.

This is our favorite place to begin a stroller run because from here, nature really begins to shine. There are points of elevation, so it provides a good workout, and the beauty is quite memorable. A few miles in is River Farm set a short distance from the trail and the northernmost of five farms once owned by George Washington.

Less than a mile south of that is Collingwood Park Playground also a very short distance from the trail. About five miles further is George Washington's majestic estate home, Mount Vernon. If you keep your eyes out, you'll come across little pieces of history along your journey. 

This is definitely one of my favorite stroller runs or bike excursions, and you see athletes of all levels exploring this lovely trail.


Parking Restrooms Good for All Ages
Thoughtfully captured by:
Randi Banks
Randi (Betts) Banks grew up in New York and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She moved to Washington, D.C. more than thirteen years ago with her husband, Eaghmon, and they love to explore the area and seek out adventure, now with their two young children along for the ride. Growing up right near the beach, they are happiest when on or near the water, so exploring the rivers, lakes, and streams in the greater DC area is a favorite pastime for their family. In addition to serving as one of the Washington, DC area ambassadors, Randi is also the Editor in Chief and Co-founder of happyly.
More activities by Randi
A playground, separate climbing area and space to wander near Old Town, Alexandria.
A park with beautiful river views.
Perfect space for little ones close to Old Town.

Recommended Gear