Biking around Town Vol. 4 – Laps in Rock Creek Park

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Biking around Town is written by Josh Nadas (@dcliterate), a daily bike commuter & avid rider who works for the National Park Service, and lives in Mount Pleasant.

Sometimes, you need to get out and sweat without going too far from your house. It’s for this reason that I came up with this route – it’s relatively close to my home, and I can get a workout without having to go too far. Everyone needs a route like this. While this one is mine, I’m going to work on finding similar ones around the city. The total distance covered on the map is 10 miles, but if you count loops from beach drive and ridge road, that distance is shorter. Once you get into the park, it’s pretty easy to make more loops than one if you like.

The ride starts out headed down Harvard street, which is a fun downhill. However, there is a light at the bottom of the hill. If you are going to the right (which is the mapped direction) you should be okay. If you were going straight to get to the zoo, I don’t think cars have great visibility coming from the other way, so keep your head up. Also, even on the weekends a lot of this route is on roads where there are cars. It many cases there are not a lot of cars, but it’s good to be aware.

Continues after the jump.

The full ten miles on the map took me 43 minutes, but I don’t think that I was going super fast. There are some hills, but they really aren’t too bad. When you get to the top of the first one, you’ll enjoy a very fun and fast ride down a quiet section of Ross Drive (it feels like the same road as ridge road). That section begins when you get to the top of the hill and bear to the right. It’s my favorite part of the route.

The second climb is up Morrow Drive and up to the tennis stadium is totally optional. I included it because it gives you a little bit more of a workout, and that’s also a fun descent. That hill in particular looks harder than it is – just set an easier gear and keep turning. You’ll make it to the top. After the hill, I ride out to the end of the parking lot just to add a bit of distance. It’s not very far and it’s a nice break before you turn around and descend the hill you just climbed.

After you finish the descent from morrow drive, it’s just a short trip down beach, where you have the option to make the right onto Ridge again. There is a very small patch of concrete that provides a ramp over the curb, and up and onto a short bike path that takes you to to the bottom of the hill on Ridge road. If you made that turn, you would be beginning another “lap.”

I hope you enjoy this route as much as I do. It’s a good workout without being too intense, or being a long trip from your house if you live in NW. Given that it’s a lap, it’s also easy to go for as long or as short of a ride as you like.

Ride Notes

On the descent of Ross drive, there are a couple of drain grates. They are not “bike friendly,” and you are not going to want to get your front wheel caught in one. To be safe, I ride a little bit off the curb, since the road is pretty quiet.
The descent of Morrow drive can be very fast. Just keep your speed in check & you should be fine.

3 Comment

  • Fun ride. Would just echo to be super careful on the descents and ride your brakes. Cars, other cyclists, drain grates, etc. can ruin a good ride in an instant.

  • This is a good ride. If you want to add a bit of challenge do a loop up and down Tilden. It has bike lanes all the way to Connecticut and a nice little ascent.

  • this looks great! can’t wait to give it a try.

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