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Explore the best rated trails in Columbia, MD. Whether you're looking for an easy walking trail or a bike trail like the Metropolitan Branch Trail and Meadowlark Connector Trail. With more than 120 trails covering 4600 miles you're bound to find a perfect trail for you. Click on any trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.
This trail is mostly paved and runs through varied terrain. It travels along a creek, through the woods, near an old repurposed prison, and several neighborhoods. I started at the Southern terminus. Time only allowed me to ride the southern 10 miles (10 out and 10 back). Although paved, I’d recommend a hybrid, gravel, mountain or comfort bike of you are biking it. There are rooted areas and some creek crossings with cement stepping areas to get across. There were very few on the trail on the Wednesday afternoon that I wenrX There are some tricky forks in the path. Make sure you have a map or app accessible.
This trail is mostly paved with some boardwalks. It travels mostly along the Potomac River. It is well marked except for a few spots where it joins the road in Alexandria. There are several spots to park along the trail and several parks along the trail. You can ride any type of bike on this trail , but due to some bumps and routes, I think a road bike would be uncomfortable. Walking or running in the trail should be very easy.
This trail is paved and in good condition. Used by cyclists, runners, dog walkers and walkers pretty evenly. Connects Braddock metro and Del Ray to Crystal City. Target, Long Bridge rec center, Mount Vernon trail, and soon the long bridge crossing into DC!
This path is a simple paved connection between King Street metro and Braddock metro. It’s in okay condition, and has a mix of cyclists, walkers, dog walkers and the like. Be careful at the crosswalk on the north end. Traffic often doesn’t stop. Continue north on the other side of the train tracks to get to Potomac Yard, Crystal City, Target, the spray Park, and the mount Vernon trail. Long Bridge crossing into DC coming soon!
I have done the C&O/GAP trip 4 or 5 times now and loved it every time. everyone is friendly and on the C&O you can go as little or as far as you want per day. Camping areas every 10 miles so you cant get yourself stuck.
I love the GAP but prefer the C&O because its more of a trail vs just spinning away road ridding like always. Much of the C&O feels like you are in the woods away from things but without ever really being far should you need help. its the perfect amount of "adventure" for normal people.
Don't over pack, towns and stops all along the trial. Its flat so its easy to over do it.... but once you hit the PawPaw detour you will question if you really needed the laptop, espresso machine, and mini fridge :)
Test ride your bikes loaded, make sure its still fun to ride and remove the silly stuff you really don't need.
Bring/try and keep 3 water bottles full in case a pump or two is out, and drink more than you think you need to
bring snacks and eat more than you think you need to
ride a bike with around 38c-50c (1.5"-2") tires and do not pump them up to the max pressure listed on the sidewalls. that number on the side of the tire is the maximum and not even close to ideal pressure (google tire pressures for dirt roads on bikes), not a rule, you can totally go with thinner tires, I had no problem with my 32c tires last time but it is far more comfortable with a bit more rubber between you and the trail especially if you don't ride all the time.
Makes me sad when I see people complain about the C&O trail surface, thats why I go.... We have millions of miles of road to ride starting at our doorsteps why make more. Just use the proper tire and pressure for a TRAIL and your golden.
I can’t describe how much I love this trail. It goes longer than anyone could ever want and the people are courteous and everyone looks to be having a great time.
Awesome trial to run or bike. At 13 miles it is almost exactly a half marathon. Down and back should be a full Marathon. Mostly flat and smooth. Passes thru different neighborhoods with lots of options for stopping to eat or let the kids take a break and play.
This trail is indeed convenient for the connection to Holmes Run Trail. It is semi-urban in nature, no exciting scenery but the greater positive is that there are no road crossings on the trail.
At this writing the trail was getting a little rough in spots. Hazards include at least one pothole at a utility box but more numerous are tree-roots that are causing the asphalt to protrude in multiple areas, creating potential hazards for wheeled transport, but especially inline skaters. However, these are navigable if care is taken to watch for them.
This is a great trail to ride. I frequent it often. Mostly flat with a few crossing from Arnold to Glen burnie. This also connects to the BWI trail which makes it a nice 41 mile loop.
The Grist Mill Trail is closed for about a year for bridge repairs. Sept 2022-Sept 2023.
It’s a fun trail, but the only issue is it’s busy & gets very slippery by the entrance with all the debri from the plants.
In the last week of October 2022, while heading to N. VA. to attend a hobby show,
I decided to bring along the bike to sample some bike trails along the way.
First stop was the Cardinal Greenway. Next I transited to N.VA via Ohio, Pennsylvania,
W. Va & Maryland. Oct 27 2022, I took My first ride on the "Chesapeake & Ohio Canal
National Historical Park" towpath (here after 'C&O'). By comparison to other trails I've
done, this trail is packed gravel, so a change of wheels/tires was in order. The surface
reminded Me of the Forest Service roads at De Soto NF, so I felt right at home. My start
point was Carderock Recreation Area. The access road actually goes through a tunnel
'under' the canal & towpath! This is milepost 10.5. From there I went west toward mp 16.6,
Swain Lock (lock 21). On the way you will encounter 'the Great Falls' of the Potomac. Stop
and check out the walkway to the Olmsted Island & Falls Overlook. Spectacular, and this is
just 10 miles west of Wasington DC! I then visited the Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center, then
returned to Carderock for lunch. After a break, I headed east getting as far as mp 7 (lock 7),
before returning to Carderock. I was running out of time, & decided to save the rest of the
east leg for another day. [21 miles total, and lots of sightseeing!]
After visiting the 24th "International Paper Modelers' Convention" 2022 (the point of the road trip)
on Sunday, Oct. 30th, I decided to Return to the 'C&O', and complete the eastern leg. Starting at
the Lock 8 parking area, walking the bike down a flight of 'stairs', I started the ride at mp 8.3 in the
Seven Locks area, heading east. Soon encountered the Capital Cresent trail, which crosses the C&O
on an old railway bridge, then runs parallel into the city. Just for comparison, I rode the Cresent, which
is asphalt, into town, and the C&O out. With a brief hour of sightseeing by bike around the National Mall
(because I was there) then back to the start. 3 hrs/22 miles. Will return again, as this was just a recon
ride [the whole C&O is 184.5 miles] I only scratched the surface!
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