UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2021, with thanks to ride organizer Dave Whiteman, who also has an awesome app to recommend for cycling routes – Ride with GPS. Here’s some details Dave provided about it:
- Most popular routing app with best tools in the industry for creating new routes
- Both free and paid versions
- Search for routes of varying lengths from anyplace
- Turn-by-turn voice navigation with paid version or through a club version
- Very capable app for monitoring speed and performance during a ride and for recording rides in your personal library
- Not very good at connecting to other riders via social media. For that, Strava is much better.
Greenbelt is a great place for cyclists! Here are some Greenbelters’ favorite routes, groups and more. (Got another route to suggest? Email email@example.com).
Routes from Old Greenbelt
Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) is a favorite with Greenbelters, with its 6,600 acres and low-traffic roads. It’s reachable from Research Road in Old Greenbelt. From BARC, two popular destinations are Old Bowie (for lunch) and the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. From there the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Trail isn’t far.
Wednesday night racing in Greenbelt Park, also accessible from Greenbelt Road, is a popular spot to ride on its paved roads. In addition, bicycle races are conducted throughout the year in the park. Here’s a Greenbelt Online post about the races.
About 3 miles from Old Greenbelt is the entrance to Lake Artemesia with its 1.3-mile bike/pedestrian paved path around it and the entrances to longer routes.
From there you pick up the Anacostia Tributary Trail System which you can follow south and then west to College Park, Riverdale, Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, then link to the Sligo Creek Trail that can take you as far north as Wheaton.
Or from Lake Artemesia ride south to Bladensburg Waterfront Park. and the Anacostia River Trail and beyond to. Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Kingman Island or into DC via S. Capitol Street. Click here for detailed directions to Lake Artemesia from Old Greenbelt, plus directions south along the river and into the city.
The blog Greater Greater Washington noted that with the final leg of the Anacostia River Trail opening in 2016, the route “might be the most beautiful in the region”. The writer continued, “What recently opened is a new trail, that bridges this gap and makes one seamless 40-plus mile trail system throughout the Anacostia watershed.”
From Maryland Milestones, here’s for a map of the Anacostia Tributary Trail System with info about where to eat and shop.
Commuting to DC? Here’s another recommended route.
Finding and Following Routes
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s website has great wayfinding tools and maps online. They also have paper copies of many local maps at the WABA office – stop by during business hours to see what materials are available and take what you need, at 2599 Ontario Road, Washington, D.C.
Bike Washington has tons of nice rides here online. (Not updated recently but still a good resource.)
Rails to Trails‘ TrailLink app – click for description, pricing and reviews: “The ultimate trail-finder app for all outdoor enthusiasts. Download TrailLink today to enjoy full-length trail descriptions, reviews, photos, and detailed trail maps not found anywhere else!”. See your location on the trail, just like GPS.
Strava is one of the most popular GPS cycling apps offers an array of handy ride logging functions which are then uploaded to your online Strava profile.
Google Maps is one of the best online tools for determining bicycle routes. It combines the standard Google mapping and routing functionality with extensive trail data from Rails to Trails Conservancy, and it has improved greatly over time due to the consistent feedback of bicyclists.
Use these or other cycling apps? We’d love your review!
Some favorite bike trips that start by loading bikes onto cars or on the Metro:
- Eastern Shore, for an easy flat ride. One Greenbelter suggests parking in Oxford and riding to St. Mary’s and Tilghman Island
- Washington and Old Dominion Regional Trail is a paved trail between Shirlington and Purcellville, Virginia – 45 miles.
- One local rider recommends the Capital Crescent Trail plus the Beach Drive Loop (even with the current detour for Purple Line construction).
Riding with Others
If you like to ride in groups, you have some options. Nearby Proteus Bicycles in College Park sponsors weekly rides and social events, including their Thursday evening Pot Luck Supper, 7-9 pm, along with social rides on Saturdays, and Sunday morning mountain bike rides. Friday mornings features their College Park Friday Morning Coffee Club ride, a easy-going ride to a local coffee shop.
Potomac Pedalers Touring Club offers rides in the greater DC/MD/VA area, ranging from five miles to upwards of 75 miles, and at slower, casual pace to those that average up to 25 mph. Their website has a monthly ride calendar that provides a quick glance at the expected pace of a ride, terrain (mostly hilly or mostly flat, or somewhere in-between), and cancellations due to weather conditions, so it’s wise to check in before you go.
Every Tuesday and Friday there’s a ride leaving from Buddy Attick Park – Greenbelt Lake. Potomac Pedalers, which started the ride but no longer lists it, promoted it thusly: “Join us on this rolling ride with a few nice climbs for your trouble. There are 2 rest stops but only vending machine food. You can take shortcuts for a shorter ride or add a couple of miles for a longer one. Park in Buddy Attick Park, not at Ivy Lane. Lunch afterward, alfresco, at Greenbelt Center with several food options.” Though the ride is no longer posted online anywhere, you can just show up in the Buddy Attick parking lot at 10 a.m. on Tuesday or Friday unless it’s too cold/rainy, etc. We’re told that after you’ve attended a ride or two, you can be put on the informal organizers’ email list to stay informed.
Closest to home, GHI has a Bike Committee made up of bicyclist enthusiasts within GHI encouraging all levels of bicycle riding, from children to adults. Its agenda includes: getting bike racks into the GHI courts, creating community bike rides, providing education on safe bike riding, teaching basic bike repair, getting bike sheds, making GHI/Greenbelt streets safer for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers, creating liaisons with entities that can support these efforts. All GHI members (bike riders and their allies) are encouraged to join the committee as members or visitors. They meet on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7 PM in the GHI office building. Have questions or ideas? Contact Aileen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Greenbelters who don’t own bikes (yet) can try the local trails by renting.
As of June 2021, Old Greenbelt finally has bike-sharing company – Capital Bikeshare! Here’s how it works.
The cities of College Park, University Park and Riverdale Park now offer bike rental through VeoRide. According to Hyattsville Wire, “The new system will include 150 e-bikes, 75 regular bikes and 70 scooters. Instead of racks with locks, VeoRide uses geofencing to ensure that users leave their distinctive turquoise bikes and scooters within designated areas…Regular bikes cost $1 to unlock and five cents a minute; e-bikes and scooters 15 cents a minute. You can also sign up for a regular bike membership at $100 a year which does not include e-bikes and scooters.”
In DC, bike-renters have many choices, including Capital Bikeshare. Also in DC there’s Bike and Roll and Bikes to Borrow.
Photo credits: BARC. Cycling in Greenbelt Park – by Trish Newberg. Lake Artemesia by the author.