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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A summary of trail characteristics
Which E-bikes Are Allowed on this Route?*
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
Cons of the Trail
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.
We are grateful to Elizabeth Lichter for her suggestion to bike in this area.
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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].
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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].