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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry to ask yet another DC trail question! I've read up on the "must do" trails in the area as posted on this forum. My question has to do with travel time though. I hear how terrible the traffic is and we're still trying to decide whether or not to bring our bikes on this trip. Here's the question:

We will be in DC for a week while my son attends a summer camp there. The "camp" is in DC and we are staying in Arlington (Rosslyn area). If we ride, it will be while my son is at camp and most of our sightseeing will be with him in the evenings. The distance from our hotel to Gambrill or Patapsco is about 50 miles. In our area of the country that is one hour travel time. What about in DC? We would be leaving for the trails during morning rush hour about 8:00 and would try to be back by 4:00 in the afternoon. Is this doable? How long would you estimate the travel time to be?

Thanks for your patience answering all the questions you get about your trails! We hope to add Maryland/VA/DC trails to our list of states we've ridden in.

Happy trails,
Lori
 

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Once you get to 270 around the beltway it will be against rush hour. Its probably an hour from that point and somewhere between 30minutes - hour from where your staying. So you would have no problem being their by 10am.

Same thing going home, against rush hour until you get to the beltway again which can be a mess going into VA. You probably need to leave at 2pm to be sure. That gives you a good solid 4 hours of riding.

Good luck.
 

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I ride up there quite often and I know it takes 40 minuites get to Gambrill once you hit 270. I wouldn't expect you to hit traffic on 270 either going there or coming back since that is completely against the rush. I used to have to go up there during rush hour to go to Ft. Detrick for work.

I also wouldn't expect really heavy traffic on the GW Parkway from Rosslyn to the Beltway. With no traffic that section will take around 15 minuites, I would give an extra 10 minuites for rush hour, so that gives 25 minuites.

Now the third section is the actual Beltway. And the section you have to go through was rated in the top 10 worst interchanges in the US. The beltway sucks both directions during rush hour and keep in mind in DC morning rush is 6-10 and evening rush is 3-7. Anyway without traffic that little strip on the Beltway takes 5 minuites, During rush hour expect 20 minuites from GW Parkway to 270.

So lets add it up for rush hour:

GW Parkway from Rosslyn to Beltway: 25
Beltway from GW Parkway to 270: 20
270 to Gambrill: 40
Total: 1 hour 25 min
 

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If your going to make it in 40 minutes beware of the cops that sit on I270 getting people going North in the morning. The speed limit is 55 and they will ticket you for going over 65 when they are in a bad mood (believe me I know).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the responses! That's one thing I love about these forums is the ability to ask questions and get help from the locals so you can make good plans when traveling to unfamiliar areas of the country.:thumbsup: And it's great that riders like you are willing to post your knowledge for the rest or us.....over and over again :eek:

Thanks again and safe riding to you all,

Lori
 

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Check this site at :

http://www.more-mtb.org

this has all the local trails around the dc area and list all the group rides.
 

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If you are coming out of Rosilyn, you might want to take Wisconsin Ave out toward the beltway. That way, you'll be on the MD side of the river and not have to get on the beltway at all. Just get onto I-270 North toward Frederick/Gaithersburg.

the other option is I-66 west, to the Dulles Toll rd extension, then get on the beltway. That'll dump you onto the beltway near the American Legion Bridge (crosses the potomac river and is the VA/MD border). I-66 will travel at full speed in that direction at that time of day, so the only traffic you'll have to deal with will be the beltway, whereas going out Wisconsin Ave will be lots of traffic lights and traffic until you get a bit further north.
 

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Late, but Hopefully Useful:

I live in Arlington and work inside the 270 Spur (where 495 and 270 meet). Door to door, during the morning rush, it's usually 30 minutes, at the most. Jump on the GW parkway in Rosslyn, then merge on to 495 (the beltway), which will take you to 270. Coming back, things can get a little slower, so I'd allow more time. Usually 35-45 minutes in the evening rush. I don't know what 270 will be like out to Frederick, but all in all, I guess 75-85 mins on the way out, 95-110 on the way back.

You can try 66 to 495, instead of the GW parkway, but you are backtracking a bit, and may add 5-10 minutes on the way out, maybe more on the way back, when 66 slows down, even against the rush. I don't suggest trying to work your way through the district. It will slow you down significantly, and there is a greater chance you will get lost.

If you don't have time for the full trip, you can always shoot out to Wakfield/Accotink (20-25 mins) or Cabin John (30 mins) but neither provide the type of riding I've heard you will find at Gambrills. You could also try Schaeffer Farms in Germantown (45-55 mins) which is a great place to ride.
 

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Used to live in DC and I think everyone is giving darn good advice, I would vote for the GW Parkway to 495 route. Last post brings up a good point, and that is since you are there for a week, try a ride at Schaeffer's, it's pretty nice, and well marked, and also closer, it is a fast spin. Gambril is the best though (technical), and is also well marked. I wouldn't bother with Patapsco, it is tougher to get to (worse traffic) and perhaps its changed since I lived there, but it was poorly marked. At Gambril, do the yellow trail, fo sure! and also the blue, I remember those being the best. If you don't want to travel one day, you can also take some bike paths and the like into Rock Creek, and there are some trails there, although not legal. Also, on that same trip you can ride your bike around the mall, which is a real nice way to see the monuments. Enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks again all! We ended up doing the unthinkable - we did not bring our bikes! - for a variety of reasons including the weather forecast (which was wrong). However, we did get a different (for us) kind of ride in. We rented a road bike and a hybrid and rode from downtown DC to Mount Vernon and back on the MV trail. It was a lot of fun despite the heat, humidity, thunderstorm, sunburn and blown out tire (isn't it things like that that make a memorable ride?). It provided the opportunity to take in some of the sights from a bike instead of the car.

Again, thanks for all the great advice. This kind of advice epitomizes what these forums are great for. We had a good time and if we make it back out that way again, it will be for biking.

Lori
 
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