Randle Circle, Washington, DC 20019
Dan Fitzgerald, FortDupont@more-mtb.org
Spring 2010 Trailwork Days:
Weekly Ride Thread: http://www.more-mtb.org/forum/showthread.php?t=18151
Fort Dupont Park is part of the Fort Circle Park system in Southeast Washington DC. It is administered by the National Park Service, and it is one of the very few national parks where mountain biking is permitted. It is also the only legal mountain bike trail in the city.
The combined hiker/biker trail is comprised of a series of trails totaling about 8 miles in parks throughout Southeast DC. It is a combination of dirt singletrack and partially graveled paths with a few roots and a number of semi-exposed waterbars on many of the hills. The terrain is hilly throughout, with some sections beginner-friendly and others fairly challenging. There are no maintained technical features, though one may find a half-dozen rideable deadfalls at any given time. A round-trip tour of all trails in the system will take from 1 to 2 hours and will include up and back some sections for total distances around 13 miles.
Notes from other riders:
This trail takes you into an urban environment that is somewhat different from the bucolic charms of places like Rosaryville and Patapsco. At times you’ll be amazed you’re in the middle of the city, and then you’ll suddenly be reminded that, hey, you’re in the middle of a city! There may be trash in spots, as one cannot control all the city’s denizens. There are several roads to cross, and if you are riding during peak traffic times you’ll have to be patient, as DC drivers are not always the most attentive to your cycling needs. Though I’ve never had any whiff of a problem in my 50+ rides in the park, the trail does go near some areas that may have slightly higher incidences of criminality than, say, Reston. So don’t ride alone, and don’t ride near dark, and bring your cell phone. Oh, and if you’re deathly allergic to poison ivy, don’t go to Fort Dupont. I sometimes get little spots of it here and there because this plant is quite prevalent in the park system.
The main parking lot for the trail system is located on Fort Dupont Drive off Randle Circle, near the intersection of Minnesota Ave and Massachusetts Ave Southeast
From Northwest DC or Capitol Hill:
Take Pennsylvania Ave. east over the Anacostia and take a left at Minnesota (maybe half a mile). Take Minnesota to Randle Circle (less than a mile) and take a right into the circle. You will see a National Park Service sign reading “Fort Dupont Park” and a small picnic area; take a right onto Fort Dupont Drive. The parking lot/rec center are a short way in on the left.
Take the Southeast/Southwest Freeway (which is what 395 turns into when it enters DC) towards 295; exit Pennsylvania Avenue Westbound. Cross over the Anacostia and take a left at Minnesota (maybe half a mile). Take Minnesota to Randle Circle (less than a mile) and take a right into the circle. You will see a National Park Service sign reading “Fort Dupont Park” and a small picnic area; take a right onto Fort Dupont Drive. The parking lot/rec center are a short way in on the left.
Map to Trailhead
Combination of dirt singletrack and partially graveled paths with a few roots and a number of semi-exposed waterbars
Number of Trails:
Website: National Park Service-Fort Dupont
8 a.m. to Sunset
- From the parking lot, look for a concrete path beginning a little ways down the hill off into the park. Take the path into the woods, where it will become more or less graveled. Follow it until it becomes concrete again and goes up a hill, then comes to a T with another concrete path.
- Go right and you will be at the intersection of Ridge Road and Fort Davis Drive (@.2/3 of a mile). Across Fort Davis Drive is the main trail entrance, though the sign can be a little hard to see. Take this trail, which is part dirt, part gravel, as it winds around through the hills. At one point you will be riding alongside a creek, then you will ride up a small hill and come to a T (@ ¾ mile).
- To your left will be a road and a rec center. Take a right at the T, and immediately take a right at the foot of a large hill (the hill trail is a “shortcut” that takes you up to Stanton Park; if you’re tough enough to deal with the loose ground conditions and steep incline, crank up this hill and take a right at the top down to a trail that will meet up with the trail below). Follow this winding trail until it hits Massachusetts Avenue, near the intersection with Fort Davis Drive (@3/4 mile).
- Cross the road carefully, following the trail through a tiny wooded area, then cross Fort Davis Drive carefully, picking up the trail, which is concrete for a moment before heading up into the woods, where it quickly becomes gravel/dirt. Follow the trail until it empties onto Pennsylvania Avenue next to Fort Davis Drive (@2/3 mile). You will see the next trail segment across Pennsylvania.
- Take the sidewalk up the hill to next the crosswalk (38th Street) and cross carefully with the light, then roll back down to the trail entrance. Ride the trail until it hits Branch Avenue (@1/2 mile). If you’re getting sick of the road crossings, persevere: the best part is yet to come.
- Carefully cross Branch and go a very short way on Park Drive until you see a trail entrance on the right. Roll down the hill, enjoying the dicey trail surface and waterbars, then roll down the next hill and repeat the process until you come out on 28th street (@1/2 mile).
- Take a left on 28th for 50 yards until you see the trail entrance on your right. Take this trail down and up until you hit Naylor Road (@1/4 mile).
- WARNING: People driving from your left will be exiting on your right at occasionally unwise speeds. STAY LEFT ON THE GRASS OFF THE ROAD.
- Take the sidewalk on the left for a few feet until you can see traffic well enough to cross, then do so. Take this trail until it becomes concrete down a fairly steep hill (CAREFUL not to go too fast down this hill or end up like Frogger) then dead-ends into Good Hope Road (@1/3 mile).
- If you are feeling especially adventurous, cross Good Hope and follow the trail across several little bridges and a patch of foul-looking mud and another bridge, then climb a short, tough water-bar-laden hill into a weedy trail that will actually take you to the Anacostia Museum if it’s not too overgrown (@1/2 mile).
- Turn around and repeat the above process until you get to the intersection with Ridge Road and Fort Davis.
- If you want a few more miles, cross caddy-corner to the trail entrance (marked with a Nat’l Park sign) and follow the trail down and to the left until you hit C Street (@1/2 mile).
- Cross C and follow the trial until it hits East Capitol (@ ½ mile).
- Cross and go left up a grassy hill and take a short trail down to Flint Place (@1/4 mile). Take Flint until it hits Benning Road.
- CROSS CAREFULLY, as this is a major road, and take the concrete path to the left. It will quickly become gravel, then take a right up a hill (less than ¼ mile) and follow the loop around until you return to Benning Road (@ ½ mile). Then return to Ridge and Fort Davis and return via the original route.
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