• Paddling on the Potomac River

    Potomac Heritage

    National Scenic Trail DC,MD,PA,VA

Northern Virginia Hike 3

Along the Mount Vernon Trail
Mount Vernon to Key Bridge

Beginning at the steps of Mt. Vernon, this hike follows the Potomac River and the George Washington Parkway on the Mount Vernon Trail. More than 20 bridges are crossed, including two more than 1000 feet across vast marshlands. Near the 10-mile mark, the route passes through Old Town Alexandria on sidewalks. The entire trail is paved, but, except for a few segments, bicycle traffic is generally moderate. A number of side trails lead to historic sites along the way. An added bonus is that both ends of the section are served by public transportation and that the National Airport metro stop is right on the trail five miles south of Key Bridge.

 

Trip Planner

Start: Mt. Vernon
End: Key Bridge
Miles: 18.3
Points of Interest: Mt. Vernon, Fort Hunt, Dyke Marsh, Jones Point, Old Town Alexandria, National Airport, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Arlington National Cemetery, Iwo Jima Memorial
Parking: Mt. Vernon (0.0 mi.), Riverside Park (1.2 mi.), Fort Hunt Park (2.8 mi.), Dyke Marsh (7.6 mi.), Daingerfield Island (12.3 mi.), Gravelly Point (15.0 mi.), LBJ Memorial Grove (16.1 mi.), Roosevelt Island (17.9 mi.)
Water, restrooms: Mt. Vernon, mile 1.9, Fort Hunt Park, Belle Haven Marina, Alexandria, Daingerfield Island, LBJ Memorial Grove, Columbia Island, Theodore Roosevelt Island (closed in winter), Rosslyn.
Provisions: Alexandria, Crystal City, Rosslyn
Camping: None
Lodging: Alexandria, Crystal City, Rosslyn

 
Hike Data
Mile Navigation
0 Mount Vernon - follow the parking lot to the trailhead.
0.2 Join Mount Vernon Trail.
1.1 Cross Little Hunting Creek.
1.9 Water fountain.
2.4 Fort Washington visible across the Potomac in Maryland.
2.8 Fort Hunt Park.
3.3 Waynewood Blvd.
4.2 Collingwood Rd.
4.7 Wellington Rd.
5.1 West Boulevard Dr.
5.2 Join Alexandria Avenue, turn left.
5.3 Northdown Rd., turn left.
5.5 Trail resumes.
6.2 Dyke Marsh.
6.8 Bridge across Dyke Marsh.
7.0 Bridge ends.
7.6 Belle Haven Marina - Dyke Marsh entrance road.
7.7 Jones Point - this was the southernmost point of the District of Columbia between 1790 and 1846.
8.6 Enter Alexandria, Virginia.
8.7 South St., turn right and join sidewalk.
8.9 South Royal st., turn left and pass under Woodrow Wilson Bridge then turn right. Note: Watch for detours here during bridge construction.
9.3 Trail resumes, turn left.
9.6 Battery Rodgers.
9.7 South Union St., turn right.
9.8 Cameron Run Trail junction. Railroad tunnel built in 1856 on left.
9.9 Wolfe St.
10.0 Duke St.
10.1 Prince St.
10.2 King St.
10.4 Founders Park.
10.6 Pendleton St., turn left and cross railroad tracks.
10.7 Trail resumes, turn right.
10.8 Madison St.
10.9 Montgomery St.
11.0 First St.
11.4 Bridge at power plant.
11.8 Junction with trail to Northern Alexandria.
12.3 Daingerfield Island.
12.9 Junction - Four Mile Run Trail.
13.1 National Airport.
13.6 Pass under Metro tracks.
15.0 Gravelly Point, cross airport flight path.
15.6 Pass under railroad bridge.
15.8 Pass under 14th St. bridge.
16.1 Navy and Marine Memorial.
16.9 Trail to Arlington Cemetery.
17.0 Pass under Memorial Bridge.
17.6 Pass under US Route 50.
17.9 Footbridge to Roosevelt Island.
18.1 Westbound PHT towards Cabin John Bridge.
18.3 Key Bridge - Rosslyn Metro is two blocks to the left. The connection via Key Bridge to the Maryland PHT is described below.

Connector route to the C&O Canal Towpath in Maryland

Mile Navigation
0 Key Bridge, turn right and cross Potomac.
0.3 Cross on-ramp of Whitehurst Freeway.
0.4 Bridge ends, turn right on path.
0.5 Mule crossover bridge, turn right and cross to C&O Canal National Historical Park.


 

Explore the PHT

Mount Vernon
Tours of the grounds here are given daily—free on February 22, George Washington’s birthday. Souvenir shop and a restaurant make this a great place to spend the entire day. Dyke Marsh. This area features 380 acres of tidal marsh, floodplain and swamp forest. There is a hiking trail here as well as opportunities to fish and paddle. This is the largest remaining tidal wetland in the Washington area.

Jones Point
Beautiful riverside setting complete with a lighthouse built in 1856. One of the original 40 District of Columbia boundary stones is here as well. When the District was a perfect square this was its southernmost point. Access may be limited during construction of the new bridge.

Old Town Alexandria
Wander the streets and enjoy a seemingly endless array of galleries, shops, bars and restaurants, or just walk the waterfront. This was once a bustling port and a center for shipbuilding. There was so much commerce that the Alexandria Canal was built to connect Virginia directly to the C&O Canal.

Theodore Roosevelt Island Park
Wild 91-acre tract purchased and named for Roosevelt in 1932. The island has had many previous owners including the family of George Mason. The trail here is a two-mile loop that includes a half-mile boardwalk section.

Did You Know?

Copperhead snake

Copperheads are the only type of venomous snake found in Great Falls National Park. Never attempt to pick up or disturb a snake.