BARCs ‘n’ Parks


Want to pretend you’re not in a major metropolitan area? Head out of DC on the absolutely lovely Anacostia Trail system and wander through the BARC.

When you get to the end of the trail, there are a few miles of suburban blah, then BAM you’re out in USDA research farmland, which is pretty and quiet. Lots of folks like to ride on Powder Mill Road, which boasts very smooth pavement (no trucks allowed) and wide shoulders. Beaver Dam Road is bumpier in places, but quieter and more scenic. Plus, you go by the USDA’s compost research facility. Maybe that is only exciting to me.

The USDA farmland ends when you enter the Patuxent Wildlife Reserve. Most of the roads in here seem to be closed to the public, but the Scarlet Tanager Loop is open 8am-4pm most days. This consists of a few miles of smooth pavement and dead quiet woods, then a parking lot for the Patuxent Wildlife Center (which has bathrooms!) and then a few more miles of quiet woods.

Important Reminder

Metro does not allow bikes during rush hour on weekdays. If you are planning to catch the train home after a non-weekend day of riding, make sure you do so before 4pm or after 7pm. I made this mistake. I wouldn't recommend it.