White’s Ferry Loop


The White’s Ferry is a classic loop ride in the D.C. area. At least I’m calling it a classic. It was a beautiful morning and I was “wheels down” before 7:30 a.m. in Reston. I took the W&OD trail to the Custis Trail and stopped at the Marriott Key Bridge in Rosslyn.

Early morning on W&OD, Vienna. Va.
Early morning on W&OD, Vienna. Va.

I joined up with Laura Drake, a 26 year-old ultra marathoner (think 100 mile runs) for the loop ride. Her boss at Revolution Cycles was supposed to join us but apparently treasured sleep more than miles. However, Laura said he might try to catch up to us.

We headed across the Key Bridge into Georgetown then up McArthur Boulevard and River Road through northwest D.C. into Potomac, Md. River Road wasn’t bad but it’s a moderately to heavily traveled road. There is a bike lane which comes and goes and the traffic was a bit angry. Damn cyclists for being in their exclusive neighborhood.

Bridge on McArthur Boulevard
Bridge on McArthur Boulevard

Out past Seneca traffic thins out a bit eventually becoming a back county road. Hard to believe this was still Montgomery Co. We followed Edwards Ferry Road to Whites Ferry Road to Whites Ferry. My mind wondered if Edwards and White were major competitors back in the day and hated each other. In any case, White won because his is the only ferry still standing.

C&O Canal at White's Ferry
C&O Canal at White’s Ferry

We stopped at White’s Ferry for a quick lunch in their cafe. We met a guy on a hybrid just getting back into riding. I know we were both thinking he probably needs to upgrade his bike but were just glad he’s reconnecting. We had a nice conversation before he headed down the towpath and we crossed the river.

White's Ferry, Maryland side
White’s Ferry, Maryland side

This was Laura’s first time crossing, her first look actually, at the Ferry. I couldn’t tell if she was overly excited or not. Two dollars for cyclists. We got to Leesburg and she suggested we ride to Purcellville for ice cream. With a dog at home, I did not budget time for a 100 mile ride and so we passed on the Purcellville extension.

White's Ferry, Maryland side, looking at Virginia
White’s Ferry, Maryland side, looking at Virginia

We picked up the W&OD and it was like meeting an old friend. We knew it well and rode it back to Reston. I bailed here, content with my 80 miles, and Laura went back to Arlington, and probably rode hill repeats later in the day.

Virginia side of the Potomac River
Virginia side of the Potomac River

It’s a nice loop. On a weekday (this was) I would be careful about ending up on the street portion (D.C. / Potomac) during rush hour. But, other than an angry driver or two jealous they had to work, this was a very good ride.


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