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Posted by Gregory Maassen on January 23, 2021 - Latest revision March 1, 2021  Reading time: minutes remaining

Trail 2 – VA + MD: E-Biking from Washington Marina to National Harbor, Fort Foote and Old Town Alexandria

Old town Alexandria seen from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge with the National Monument in the background

Old Town Alexandria seen from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge with the Washington Monument in the background.

E-bike into the History of Alexandria

E-bike back into history with a visit to Jones Point Lighthouse, Old Town Alexandria Waterfront, and Fort Foote at the Potomac River with impressive views from the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge.

This trail has six viewpoints. Use Google Maps or other app to navigate to each viewpoint. Click on Send to Device in the left top corner of the map (see below) to upload the trail to a smartphone.

Viewpoint 1: Washington Sailing Marina

Marina Drive, Alexandria

Located just south of the airport, the Washington Sailing Marina is the starting point of the trail. The marina is known as the center for one-design and small sailboat racing in the Greater Washington metropolitan area.

Boats at the Washington Marina in Arlington

The marina is on the 106-acres Dangerfield Island. The "island" is a peninsula managed by the National Park Service and named after Henry Daingerfield (1800-1866), a wealthy shipping tycoon.

The island was home to native Americans and held cavalry horses during the Civil War. Plans to build an enormous planetarium and space center on the peninsula were scrapped in 1962.

Viewpoint 2: Jones Point Lighthouse

From the marina, follow the Mount Vernon Trail to Jones Point. The lighthouse was built in 1855 and is the only remaining inland lighthouse in the Chesapeake Bay area.

The lighthouse operated from 1856-1926, and its light beam could be seen from nine miles away. The beacon was initially powered by whale oil.

Point Jones Lighthouse

Benjamin Greenwood, with forty years of service, was the longest-serving keeper. He lived in the small lighthouse with his second wife and 11 of his 14 children (from two marriages).

A boundary marker in Point Jones
A map of the the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge with boundaries of Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia

A map of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge Trail with boundaries of Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia. It is the only bridge in the United States built within three state-level jurisdictions (DC, Maryland, and Virginia). Map courtesy of Prince George's County.

From the lighthouse, the trail leads to Maryland over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, with splendid views of the area.

Viewpoint 3: Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge

As you cross the Potomac River on the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Trail, you are on the world's largest drawbridge (or bascule bridge).

Built at a price tag of $2.35 billion and $86 million below the original budget, the 12-lane interstate bridge services over 250,000 vehicles daily. Fully opened in 2009, it took 15 years from design to construction to complete the colossal bridge.

The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge seen from the water. The bridge's characteristic concrete V-shaped support piers were constructed on-site. The drawbridge sections were manufactured in Florida and transported 700 miles on barges.

The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge seen from the water. The bridge's characteristic concrete V-shaped support piers were constructed on-site. The drawbridge sections were manufactured in Florida and transported 700 miles on barges.

An environmental mitigation program protected bald eagles that nested within the construction zone. A pair of eagles successfully hatched and fledged 13 eaglets in close vicinity of the bridge during construction in Maryland.

A view of the woodrow wilson memorial bridge multipurpose trail

Viewpoint 4: National Harbor and the Capital Wheel

After crossing the Potomac on the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, take a moment to visit the Waterfront District at National Harbor and its boutique shops, restaurants, and wheel at the river promenade.

With more than 1.6 million colored LED lights, the capital wheel soars 180 feet above the Potomac River, and has 42 climate-controlled gondolas.

The wheel at National Harbor seen from the promenade. The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge is in the background.

Viewpoint 5: Fort Foote Park

Return to the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Trail through the underpass and bike uphill (with the MGM casino on the left) and ride to Fort Foote Park. At the park’s parking area, proceed past the barrier for views of the Potomac River and the fort.

Two Rodman 15-inch cannons, cast at Cyrus Alger Company in Boston in 1863 and 1864, are still on display at Fort Foote.

Two Rodman 15-inch cannons, cast at Cyrus Alger Company in Boston in 1863 and 1864, are still on display at Fort Foote.

Named after Rear Admiral Andrew H. Foote, the fort was constructed in 1863 atop Rozier's Bluff to strengthen the fortifications that encircled Washington DC. The fort was known as a remote military post unpopular with soldiers as malaria and other living conditions made life miserable.

From the park, return to Alexandria via the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge.

Viewpoint 6: Old Town Alexandria Waterfront

The city of Alexandria was founded in 1749 and started as a tobacco trading post. The city was in the top ten of busiest ports, part of the District of Columbia, home to George Washington, and sadly, the headquarters of the largest slave-trading firm in the country. Native Americans' presence in the area can be traced back to some 13,000 years ago.

A view of the marina at Old Town Alexandria with the Cherry Blossom sternwheeler in the background.

Nowadays, the city is famous for its marina, historic buildings, bars, and restaurants. A sizeable colorful information panel is on display at the marina in the Old Town Alexandria Waterfront, depicting the city's history.

From Old Town Alexandria Waterfront, return to the Washington Sailing Marina via the Mount Vernon Trail to complete the trail.

The Cherry Blossom in the harbor of Old Town Alexandria. Built in Palatka, Florida in 1984, the vessel is an "authentic split sternwheeler and re-creation of a 19th century Victorian riverboat. Features include ornate iron rails and a plush interior of brass and mahogany."
Elegant townhouses in Harbor Side in Alexandria.

Trail Characteristics

A summary of trail characteristics

0%
Gravel Paths
95%
Flat Terrain
100%
Asphalt Roads
5%
Hills
Comfort Station Score 100%

Comfort stations are available at Washington Marina in the beginning and Fort Foote Park halfway along the trail.

Which E-bikes Are Allowed on this Route?*

trail

class I e-bike

CLASS II E-BIKE

CLASS III E-BIKE

Mount Vernon Trail 

Woodrow Wilson Memorial Trail*

Other Roads - Asphalt

What Members Say About this Trail

Below is a summary of the pros and sometimes cons of this trail

Pros of the Trail

  • Many viewpoints along the trail
  • Magnificent views of the river from the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge
  • Good food options in Old Town Alexandria
  • Plenty of parking at the Washington Marina
  • Accessible by Metro at the National Airport 
  • Picnic tables and restrooms are available at Fort Foote

Cons of the Trail

  • Exposure to strong winds on the bridge (on colder days)

Conclusion

E-Biking from the Marina to Fort Foote on the majestic Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge is a journey back into the rich history of the City of Alexandria and the Civil War. Enjoy excellent biking infrastructure and marvelous views of the Potomac River along the route. 

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Elizabeth Lichter for her suggestion to bike in this area. 

*Please see the disclaimer before e-biking and using our trails and GPS files. Trail requirements were compiled on 23 Jun 2021, They may be incorrect and may have changed. We could not obtain information related to e-bike permissibility on the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Trail. 

References

Jaybird's Jottings. (2016). Daingerfield Island: Much More than Meets the Eye. [online] Available at: https://jay.typepad.com/william_jay/2016/02/daingerfield-island-much-more-than-meets-the-eye.html#:~:text=It’s%20likely%20Daingerfield%20Island%20got,seaport%2C%20including%20near%20Pearson’s%20Island. [Accessed 18 Jan. 2021].

Washington Post. (1985). Jones Point Restoration Splits Old Town. [online] Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1985/08/12/jones-point-restoration-splits-old-town/ed78e6c2-009d-4bd2-b003-4c60b5661fb6/ [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].

The Story of Ravensworth. (2013). Daingerfield, Henry (1800-1866). [online] Available at: https://ravensworthstory.org/people/owners/daingerfield-henry/ [Accessed 18 Jan. 2021].

Nps.gov. (2016). Jones Point Lighthouse - George Washington Memorial Parkway (U.S. National Park Service). [online] Available at: https://www.nps.gov/gwmp/learn/historyculture/jonespointlighthouse.htm [Accessed 18 Jan. 2021].

LighthouseFriends. (2012). Jones Point Lighthouse. [online] Available at: https://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=439 [Accessed 18 Jan. 2021].

AECOM. (2013). Woodrow Wilson Bridge | AECOM. [online] Available at: https://aecom.com/projects/woodrow-wilson-bridge-project/ [Accessed 18 Jan. 2021].

National Harbor. (2019). ... [online] Available at: https://www.nationalharbor.com/about/ [Accessed 18 Jan. 2021].

Nps.gov. (2016). History & Culture - Fort Foote Park (U.S. National Park Service). [online] Available at: https://www.nps.gov/fofo/learn/historyculture/index.htm [Accessed 18 Jan. 2021].

Pgparks.com. (2021). Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail | MNCPPC, MD. [online] Available at: http://www.pgparks.com/4606/Woodrow-Wilson-Bridge-Trail [Accessed 20 Jan. 2021].

TheWashCycle. (2020). TheWashCycle. [online] Available at: https://www.thewashcycle.com/wilson_bridge/ [Accessed 20 Jan. 2021].

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