Alexandria’s upbeat city life has a green side, one that lines the waterfront with gorgeous views of the Potomac River in the form of the 18-mile long Mount Vernon Trail. Friendly to bikes and pedestrians, this historic route stretches from Arlington to Alexandria, winding all the way down to George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. If you decide to take up the scenic journey beginning in Alexandria, here’s a guide on what you can look forward to.
Strolls along the Mount Vernon Trail are anything but boring: from parks coated in green grass, to shady foliage stretching over the trail, to gorgeous views of the Potomac waterfront, the Mount Vernon Trail offers plenty of natural eye candy to keep its frequenters occupied.
As a historically bustling seaport, Alexandria’s waterfront is understandably popular, with dock-side dining, parks, and the famous Torpedo Factory Art Center. Coming soon, the waterfront will see a massive revamp, acquiring a brand new park, restaurants and a hotel, keeping the city lifeline alive and well.
Woodrow Wilson Bridge
Image by Eddie C. Morton
Those who venture along the Mount Vernon Trail will cruise beneath the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, one of the few remaining drawbridges in the U.S. Interstate Highway System, which connects Maryland and Virginia. Named for America’s 28th president, the bridge commemorates Wilson’s dedication to improving automobiles and highways, as he believed long drives helped clear the mind.
Image by Flickr user Rain0975
What may look like your average waterfront house is actually the Jones Point Lighthouse, located along the Potomac River in Jones Point Park. This little lighthouse was used to warn boats of impending land when attempting to reach the Washington Navy Yard, but was discontinued in 1926. Also onsite is a marker for the original Washington, DC boundary line, as Alexandria used to be part of the nation’s capital until the Civil War.
Image by Kevin Borland
After forming more than 5,000 years ago, Dyke Marsh today is 485 acres of tidal marsh and swamp forest, one of the largest remaining fresh water basins in the DC region. Known as one of the best bird watching locales in the area, this wildlife preserve is home to a great deal of critters like beavers, Red-winged blackbirds and red foxes.
At the base of the trail is George Washington’s historic Mount Vernon estate, where visitors can peruse the first president’s former home, the centuries-old grounds, museum and education center, in addition to the Distillery and Gristmill, where the General would make whiskey, flour and cornmeal (respectively). If you’ve made it this far and are exhausted, not to worry: there’s a boat courtesy of the Potomac Riverboat Co. that can take you back!
Find more stops on the Mount Vernon Trail here.