Cycling and Mountain Bike Trails in the Northern Virginia Region

We are truly lucky to have hundreds of miles of cycling trails in the Northern Virginia region.  Here are just a few of our favorites.  Please stop in the shop and learn more about all the great trails.  We have books, maps, and lots of knowledge available on where to ride. 

Washington and Old Dominion Trail (W&OD)

The W&OD Trail is a one of the great treasures of cycling in the Washington, D.C. area, with more than 45 miles of paved trail that connects Shirlington in Arlington County, Va. to the westernmost town limits of Herndon, Va.  Beyond Herndon, the path includes a parallel 35-mile gravel equestrian trail.  The W&OD winds its way to finish in the Blue Ridge town of Purcellville.  The W&OD between Herndon and Arlington County had been closed to use from sundown until sunrise, mostly due to safety  concerns, but was recently allowed access to riders from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. with the provision that riders wear reflective clothing and use both front and rear lights.  The W&OD is the favorite race training route for many athletes, so be careful about your speed and visibility at all times.  The trail is mostly flat but begins to climb after Leesburg.  On weekends the trail can be crowded, so be polite, be seen and have fun. Parking is limited along the route, so be sure to park in a public lot, if possible.  It isn’t fun to discover your car has been towed after a long ride. 

The Bike Lane in Reston Town Center backs up along the W&OD, so this is the perfect place to start and end your ride; or make it your pit stop along the way.  If you need a bike to ride check out our selection of Rental Bikes. 

Cross County Trail- Fairfax, VA

Fairfax Cross County Trail (CCT):  A great trail for beginners and easy-does-it bike riders with a mix of paved and packed dirt sections that connect many Fairfax County and Northern Virginia Park Authority parks. [Caution – there are several street crossings in the CCT’s 41 miles of trail and much of the trail is best-suited for mountain bikes).

The multi-use trail’s northernmost  point is at Great Falls and the southern end is at Laurel Hill.  Between those points are many of the area’s best mountain bike trails.  There are many parking areas adjacent to the CCT.  Get a Fairfax County Bicycle Map at The Bike Lane for specific parking areas.

Two of the county’s best and most-popular bike parks are Lake Fairfax in the north and Laurel Hill in the south, with plenty of parking, easy access by car, popular amenities and great trails.

Lake Fairfax Park/Colt’s Neck- Reston VA

The northern parts of Fairfax County have a mountain bike place of their own at this beautiful recreational complex in Reston.  In addition to the beautiful lake, there are more than 12 miles of singletrack, doubletrack and paved trails that connect the park with both the CCT and W&OD Trails.  The park has a mix of moderate and easy trails.  It is home to several bike races, including European-style cyclocross races in the fall and winter.  A splash in the water park is a cooling respite after a ride to and around the park.  The park entrance is at Baron Cameron Ave. and Lake Fairfax Drive with parking lots along Park Lake Drive. 1400 Lake Fairfax Dr, Reston, VA 20190


Lake Accotink Park- Springfield VA

“The Tink” has been a popular riding site since mountain biking became popular in the mid-1990s.  In those early days, access was difficult because there were no direct roads to the main trails above the lake. Access was mostly through bushwhacked trails along the banks of Accotink Creek that were infamous for their webs of slippery roots and muddy clay.

To get to dry trails above the lake, riders would have to grind their way up steep, tight switchbacks.  That changed when MORE and the Fairfax Park Authority  brought the CCT trail to the lake.  The infamous “Nemesis” climb above the lake’s dam was tamed with a paved, but still steep, path.  The CCT trail was widened and improved all around the lake and the treacherous concrete stairway entry point at Danbury Forest was changed to smooth, winding pavement.

On the south side, there was no access because the park was bisected by a busy railroad track.  That changed when the local homeowners association on Carrleigh Parkway granted access through their property with some restrictions on night riding.

A bike-pedestrian bridge was built over the railroad tracks and the full park was now accessible from a parking lot below an older railroad bridge over the lake’s dam, a service road on Rolling Road and the CCT trail around the park.

The Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts trail advocacy group improved the rocky, rooty, erosion-prone trails at Accotink by using progressive trail-building techniques, reducing run-off into the lake and building rapport with the neighborhood.  With the new trails underway, Accotink changed from being a “bandit” network into a great example of modern trail building in a busy suburban area.  Most of the seven miles of trails are of moderate skill level, but rise above that rating when ridden at faster speeds.  The wide, main dirt trail around the lake is always busy with mountain bikers, stroller-pushers and runners.

The Accotink trail system links with the CCT and the Wakefield park routes at Danbury Forest Drive. The entrance is down the paved hill.  Bikes cannot enter the park at the upper paved trail, which is uphill only to prevent pedestrian-bike collisions.  Please use the entrance down Danbury Forest Drive, which is marked with signs on the right.  At the bottom of that entrance, turn right to connect over the Accotink Creek bridge to the CCT and the Wakefield trails.

The Bike Lane along with MORE hosts many weekly rides through Accotink Park (it's only 2 miles from The BIke Lane Springfield). You can find these rides on our monthly calendar of events.

Wakefield Park- Annandale, VA

Wakefield Park is probably the most-popular mountain bike park in Fairfax County. Adjacent to the I-495 Beltway at 8100 Braddock Road and the multi-use Fairfax County Connector Trail (CCT), mountain biking is just one of many activities that draw large numbers of athletes to the park’s Audrey Moore Rec Center gymnasium, indoor swim pool, baseball/softball fields, tennis courts, trail running paths, all-weather soccer/football fields and more.

For local mountain bikers, Wakefield is home.  The large park runs along Accotink Creek and I-495 and the CCT network is always close-by.  For beginners and casual riders out for a spin, the Creek Trail is a flat and scenic route where wildflowers explode in the spring.  The Creek Trail is parallel to the CCT, so look out for walkers and other cyclists.  There are public restrooms next to the ball-field parking lots.

For mountain bikers who want a doable challenge, the racecourse network under the powerlines is a mix of twisty, rooty singletrack that leads to skinny rock gardens, tight switchbacks, creek crossings, wooden bridges, and a big-bermed descent that will have your bike sideways at high speed.  Just south of the racecourse are the blue-tagged trails that wind in around the southeast corner of the park.  That singletrack is more rugged than the creek trail.

Insider Tip:  The Swiss Bakery, across from Wakefield in the Ravensworth Shopping Center, 5224 Port Royal Rd., is a great spot for post-ride coffee and delicious European pastries. Kilroys, also in the same shopping center is a great place for post ride beers.

The Bike Lane, along with MORE, host weekly night rides at Wakefield.  Check out our calendar for details.

Fountainhead Regional Park (Advanced)- Fairfax Station, VA

Pedal-stroke for pedal-stroke, there is no more exciting place to ride in Fairfax County than Fountainhead. While there are beginner, intermediate and advanced trails here, the riding is mostly fast and furious.  Much like a dirt roller coaster, the advanced trails here will have you screaming with glee or agony, maybe both. 

There are now over 14 miles of trail, but almost all of it is twisty, rocky, rooty East Coast singletrack studded with skinny wooden bridges, off-camber switchbacks, teeter-totters, power berms and free-fall descents (and a ton of climbing in the black section).  In the early days of mountain biking in Fairfax County, Fountainhead was a beautiful nightmare of broken bikes, bloody knees, dislocated shoulders and discombobulated riders lost in a maze of skinned roots and rock gardens. Recent major upgrades haven’t eliminated the challenge, but have made the penalty for failure less painful.  That said, make sure you have your health insurance card with you.

Location, Location: Because Fountainhead is a regional park, mountain bikers share the parking areas with hikers, runners, anglers, kayakers, archers, canoe paddlers and the occasional horse trailer or two.  Be nice and obey the “No Parking” signs.  Fountainhead is bike accessible from the U.S. 123 (Ox Road) sidepath at Rt. 645, Hampton Road.  Be careful, as Hampton Road is narrow and can be busy with cars as it winds and climbs 12.3 miles to a left turn into Fountainhead Regional Park.  Restrooms are adjacent to the parking areas.

Local knowledge:  Great restrooms, usually very clean. Soda vending machines are also nearby in the parking lots, but you might want to bring extra fluids because the machines are often out of order or empty. The closest Starbucks coffee and Five Guys hamburgers locations are on U.S. 123, take a right on the paved sidepath to the nearby Giant Grocery strip mall.

The Fountainhead Trail System has a strick no riding when wet policy.  Please check the Fountainhead Facebook page before making the trip ride.  The park management posts daily the status of the mountain bike trails.

Laurel Hill - Lorton, VA

This bike park is rich with local history because it was once the site of the Lorton Prison, where inmates from Washington, D.C. were incarcerated.  The cellblocks have been converted into the Workhouse Arts Center that offers a gallery, art shop, coffee bar, a weekly farmers’ market and entertainment offerings.

 Trails: Laurel Hill’s 10-miles of trails are shared with equestrians, but the park is so large it is rare for bikes and horses to meet on a trail.  The trails are easily accessed from the parking lot at Ox Road (U.S. 123) and Lorton Road.  The trails adjacent to the parking lot are flowing and of moderate difficulty, with some technical features on the Powerhouse Loop and Slaughterhouse Loop that are challenging but also skill-building.   Riders can follow the CCT under a unique brick bridge on Furnace road to access Giles Run, a moderate singletrack trail with some obstacles and short, but steep climbs, as well as a hike-a-bike across a creek followed by a small, uphill rock garden before emerging at a parking lot used by both cyclists and Frisbee golfers (8400 Lorton Rd.).

The Apple Orchard Loop can be accessed by crossing Furnace Road off the Pasture Trails.  Watch for car traffic on Furnace Road.  The Apple Orchard is a fun and moderately challenging trail that winds through a fragrant pine forest on banked switchbacks and loose rock singletrack.  The trail can be ridden in both direction with a moderate finishing climb either way.

Fun Fact:  There’s a Starbucks and Five Guys burger restaurant just north of Laurel Hill on Ox Road.

The trail is about 5 miles from The Bike Lane is Springfield.

Avalon/Patapsco, Maryland:

The famed Avalon Loop at Patapsco State Park is a classic East Coast rocky and rooty trail with lots of fast and fun sections.  Bring your best singletrack skills and put them to the test.  With 12.7 miles of banging trails, you might find yourself spending the whole day here.  Bring lots of water and energy bars. 

Directions: From I-95 North, exit at Rt. 166 West (UMBC, Catonsville).  Follow signs to Park-and-Ride. Trailhead is about 100 yards from Park-and-Ride on Rolling Road. 

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