One of the things I enjoy most about running is the excuse it gives me to check out new and different areas on foot. One place I never would have gone had it not been for running is the Woodrow Wilson Bridge south of D.C. Nearly every work day I drive over this monstrosity, but the other day I noticed for the first time that the bridge has a pedestrian lane built into it. When I saw this, I knew I had to run it!
The Wilson Bridge can be seen on the left. National Harbor is on the right, about 3 miles away.
The best area to start a run over the Wilson Bridge, in my opinion, is from a parking area established along the side of the Mount Vernon Parkway just south of Old Town Alexandria. This spot is scenic to drive to and gives direct access to the Mount Vernon Bike Trail, one of the best paved trails in the area.
This is where you begin... and end too, unless something goes REALLY wrong
The Mount Vernon Bike Trail...
is pretty busy. There's bikers, walkers, strollers, runners...
and even fishers!
The city of Alexandria is about a mile north of the parking area
The city even added markings to the trail, in case you're really lost!
I chose to head toward Maryland and began the path over the bridge...
I'm not going to lie, there were some bad omens on the left to start the crossing...
There was also a city garden carved into a spare lot!
Once on the bridge, interstate traffic zoomed by just a few feet to the right...
and the Potomac River went by underneath my feet
The control booth to open and close the drawbridge
One of three observation areas along the bridge
About halfway across the bridge I saw someone coming up behind me out of the corner of my eye. They were approaching so fast I thought it was someone on a bike, but it was actually just the world's fastest runner (give or take).
I tried to keep up, but then breathing became more important than pride!
The bridge marker on the Maryland side. My run took me across three borders!
National Harbor, much closer now than when I began
These tunnels lead to National Harbor, but I used them as my turn-around marker
I saw a lot of planes like this one in the middle of the picture. National Airport is five miles north.
A very cool walkway was built above the water
This bridge led back from National Harbor to the Wilson Bridge
The engineers outdid themselves making this urban area pedestrian friendly
The trail corkscrewed to make the ascents less steep
Crossing back over 495, looking up the Wilson Bridge
Scenic flower gardens are planted on top of the interstate walk-over!
The gradual descent to the bridge on the opposite side of the crossing
A great view of the bridge
Heading home as the sun sets over Alexandria!
One final note on this run, one which may be of interest to Dan Brown fans and conspiracy nuts. The tall building in the middle of my last photo is the George Washington Masonic Memorial, the tallest building to be seen for miles around. The Washington Monument, another famous Masonic landmark, is the most noticeable building in all of D.C. and can be seen when looking at D.C. from the middle of the bridge. So the two tallest, and arguably most dramatic, buildings to be seen from the bridge when looking back at the most powerful city on Earth are both Masonic symbols.