The Arlington Triangle is exactly what its name suggests: a triangular-shaped route that connects together a slice of northeast Arlington, Virginia. Completed as a circuit, the route runs just over 16.5 miles in total, combining segments of the Custis, Mount Vernon, Four Mile Run, and W&OD trails. The Triangle route is entirely paved and is well-maintained. The route is also mostly flat, with the exception of the section of the Custis Trail that runs from Rosslyn, VA to its natural intersection with the W&OD trail just southwest of Westover Park. The Custis Trail is hilly in both directions, and in the summer months, it can be quite exposed. Runners should plan—and time—their circuit loops accordingly.
One of the great advantages of the Arlington Triangle is that the majority of it is entirely separated from highway and neighborhood traffic. Runners should be prepared for at-grade street crossings when switching from the Four Mile Run Trail to the W&OD just outside of Shirlington, VA (there is also a major at-grade intersection where the W&OD crosses Columbia Pike). Similarly, runners should proceed with caution though the Rosslyn segment of the Custis Trail, which runs on the sidewalk for Route 29/Lee Highway and contains a cluster of at-grade intersections with neighborhood cross streets. Otherwise, the trail offers runners a prime opportunity to practice pacing and to enjoy some quieter and more wooded parts of Arlington County.
Access and Extension Points
Scattered along the trail, but exercise good caution. Perhaps the most convenient location to access the Arlington Triangle is from the parking lot at Theodore Roosevelt Island, where runners can park, or secure their bikes, and can start on the Mount Vernon Trail heading in either direction (Gravelly Point, just north of National Airport is a similarly good option). Since the Four Mile Run Trail and the portion of the W&OD that is east of Columbia Pike make their way through a variety of local neighborhoods, runners can easily access the Triangle loop simply by walking onto these trails at any point (the same is the case in Rosslyn). The remaining portions of the loop are fairly isolated either by wooded areas or by the traffic of The George Washington Memorial Parkway. Runners are never advised to trailblaze or to sprint across busy highways.
Runners can easily extend their workouts by adding out-and-back segments on either the Mount Vernon or W&OD trails. Runners can also easily and safely cross the 14th Street Bridge heading north to add in extra distance in East Potomac Park or to connect to the Rock Creek Trail (to the northwest) or the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (to the northeast). With the standard Triangle loop already running close to 17 miles, runners should plan and prepare accordingly when adding any significant distance to an already long route. Hydrate, carry nutrition and personal identification, and always bring some cab fare.