Biking around Town is written by Josh Nadas (@dcliterate), a daily bike commuter & avid rider who lives in Mount Pleasant. Josh previously wrote about tips for buying a bike on craigslist.
What’s better after a bike ride in August besides Ice Cream? Okay, fine – beer is really nice – but sometimes you just want ice cream. Let’s ride to Old Town Alexandria to check out two different ice cream shops, so you can pick your favorite. On the one side of the street is Pop’s, and on the other side is the Scoop Grill and Ice Cream. When I went, I had Pop’s – so I can’t say definitively which is better, nor am I qualified to do so. I’ll leave that to you in the comments section. Here’s one route that works well to get to Old Town.
I started behind the Jefferson Memorial. That spot is the confluence of several bike trails, as well as a couple of significant roadways. The route that I have highlighted is about six miles long, and is a pretty easy ride. This section of the Mount Vernon Trail can have a lot of traffic, so be courteous to your fellow trail users, announce when you are passing, and you should have a really nice ride.
Head south from the Jefferson, and cross the roadway behind the memorial. You are looking for a paved path to follow. Get on that trail, follow it up the hill and cross the bridge. Space can be a little cramped crossing the bridge, so you may need to dismount depending on the circumstances.
Once you cross the bridge you’ll make a right turn off the trail, and then make the next immediate right turn onto the Mt. Vernon Trail. You’ll head under the bridge that you just crossed, that way you know that you are going the right direction. From there you will follow the trail past the airport until you reach a fork in the trail. Technically both paths will take you where you want to go, but you have the option of riding down by the water, so bear to the left in order to do so.
As you get closer town, the trail will bear right, and you will cross over the train tracks. Train tracks can be tricky, especially when wet. The trick is to ride over them in as straight a line as possible, perpendicular to the tracks. Don’t try to turn the bike until you have both wheels over the rails, wheels tend to wash out on the the exposed smooth metal. Once both wheels are across the tracks, turn left and continue along the trail.
Eventually the trail seems to end at a street, which is Pendelton St. The trail does not actually end, it just changes from a paved path to surface road. The road turns to the right and becomes North Union St. As you ride down the street you will see Founders Park on your left, it’s totally worth a pit stop. You can’t ride in the park, just so you know.
Continue along North Union Street until you get to King Street. You make a right, and you are on the block where you can get some yummy ice cream. King street is super cool & there are a lot of stores and restaurants to check out as well. Enjoy the ride!