Biking Around Town – National Arboretum

Photo by PoPville flickr user caroline.angelo

Biking around Town is written by Josh Nadas (@dcliterate), a daily bike commuter & avid rider who lives in Mount Pleasant. Josh previously wrote about Teddy Roosevelt Island.

Ed. Note: The National Arboretum: “is now CLOSED every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday because of the sequester cuts. We are open Friday through Monday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.”

Located relatively close to the New Columbia Distillers, is the National Arboretum. It’s one of my favorite places to ride because there is an epic collection of flora and fauna, courtesy of the United States Forest Service. The arboretum is set up such that once you enter the grounds, there are very few cars, and most of them are moving fairly slowly. It makes for a really pleasant place to ride your bike.

I started this route on the east side of Union Station, on Union Station Drive. You’ll head up that street for a block, and make your first left onto K street, then you will make your next left turn, which is onto North Capital, and then one more immediate left turn onto H street. I know that’s a bit round-about, but it’s not super easy to cross the train tracks. Depending on your approach, you may not need to mess around with multiple left turns, but I wanted to start the route from Union Station, because it is such a central location.

You’ll travel down H street until you have the opportunity to make a slight left turn onto Maryland Avenue. You’ll take Maryland ave until you reach 17th street, where you will make a left onto 17th street. Eventually 17th merges into Bladensburg road, which is probably the least-pleasant part of this ride. I deliberately kept you off this road for as long as possible, because traffic moves pretty fast. Unfortunately, the Arboretum entrance is off of Bladensburg, so you have to use it at some point. However, if you use this route it’s only a short distance on Bladensburg road, and you’ll shortly make a right onto R street. Ride down R until it ends, and you will reach the entrance to the arboretum. So you know, there is a wide sidewalk on Bladensburg that you can use if you are not comfortable riding on that part of the road. I think it’s fine to ride on the road as long as you are careful, but this information maximizes your options.

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The map continues on with a quick lap around the arboretum – I could not help myself. Once you are there, it’s actually really fun to just ride around without worrying about getting lost. The facility is fairly self-contained, and the signage is excellent. It’s also not that large, so you should be able to ride around all you like, and then soft-pedal back to the entrance when you are done. Don’t forget to instagram the columns, they are way cool.

Another thing that makes this a great riding destination is that there are lots of water fountains, bathrooms, and snacks. You’re all set if you need to pit stop, the only thing missing is a bike shop.

The route I took is 5.47 miles, but that includes a lap of distance after arriving at the destination. I would estimate that it takes about 30 minutes of pedaling from Union Station. Have fun out there!

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