Exploring Virginia's Northern Neck

The Northern Neck of Virginia is a region with many options for bike overnights, from camping to cabins to inns and bed and breakfasts. Great bicycling can be complemented by hiking, kayaking, wine tasting, and other activities. The following is based on my 15 years or so of occasional visits.

It helps a great deal to see a map; contact the Northern Neck Tourism Commission and request their brochure/map of Northern Neck bicycling routes. Online, check out the Northern Neck Heritage Trail Bicycling Route Network. The routes are components of the greater Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail network.

From the South

Option 1) Begin in White Stone, Irvington, or Kilmarnock and ride the meandering route shown on the brochure to Reedville or to the vicinity of Smith Point (approximately 36 miles from White Stone); both have guest houses and bed & breakfasts, and camping is available at Chesapeake Bay Camp-Resort. For the return trip the next day, take the free Sunnybank Ferry.

Then ride out to sandy Vir-Mar Beach for a view of the wide Potomac before heading back.

White Stone, Irvington, and Kilmarnock together have plenty of lodging options and restaurants for a second night, and you will likely want to plan some time to visit the Steamboat Era Museum and Historic Christ Church.

Option 2) Park at the Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library in Lancaster and ride the route that follows Virginia 600 to Montross.  Stay at The Inn at Montross; or, for a camping or cabin option, continue on to Westmoreland State Park for a total distance of about 34 miles. (Note that sections of Route 3 in the vicinity of Montross and the state park and George Washington Birthplace National Monument -- between routes 205 and 214 -- lack adequate shoulders.)

In addition to the superb food at the inn, you can fuel up at a coffee shop, at a seafood/pizza pub, or at Yesterday’s restaurant; the gas station near the entrance to the park also has a deli counter and the restaurant at Stratford Hall, birthplace of Robert E. Lee, serves lunch and dinner on some days.

From the North

Option 1) Begin in Colonial Beach and ride to the campground in Westmoreland State Park, approximately 20 miles via the “Leedstown Loop” and Ingleside Vineyards. This route avoids riding on Route 3 (see map). You can also stay in a cabin with modern amenities, originally constructed by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The park includes a visitor center, hiking trails, kayak rentals, a pool, and a beach. (For a longer ride, begin at Caledon State Park, adding approximately 12 miles via Colonial Beach.)

Option 2) With lodging options in both Colonial Beach and Montross, you can put together an inn-to-inn tour that includes the winery, the state park, kayaking, hiking, and the historic Stratford Hall complex.

Get more information about bike overnights.

Tip for this adventure:  Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard at Westmoreland State Park and paddle along the Westmoreland Cliffs; or, to see the Popes Creek shoreline as Washington's father, Augustine, did, paddle to the George Washington Birthplace. Note the hours of the Sunnybank Ferry (i.e., it does not operate on Sundays and ends service on Saturdays at noon).

Favorite local bike shop: Shops in the vicinity of the rides include Pete’s Bike and Skate Shop in Weems, Virginia, and Bikeworks in Fredericksburg.

6 responses so far ↓

Marcus - Jun 15, 2014 at 7:04 AM


Are there dedicated paths, trails, or is it mostly riding on the road? What is the condition of the route, is it OK for a road bike or would we need a hybrid?

thanks for some nice pics and descriptions!

Don - Jun 15, 2014 at 11:56 AM

All on road so road bike is fine.

Audra - Oct 27, 2014 at 1:06 PM

Just found this website a few weeks ago and even though we live just a few hours north in Baltimore, I was completely unfamiliar with the Northern Neck. the boyfriend and I decided to head down this past weekend and had a really nice time. Biked from Westmoreland to Belle Isle State Park on Saturday and back on Sunday with stops at Stratford Hall, Hague Winery, Lancaster Tavern and Hughlett's Tavern. The scenery was beautiful and the drivers were very respectful and gave us wide clearance when passing. Roads were nice and smooth too; I don't remember hitting a single pothole. Camping facilities at both state parks were fantastic. Thanks for sharing this! Looking forward to heading back to see the parts of the Peninsula we missed.

Lisa - Nov 6, 2014 at 8:25 AM

So glad that Audra had a good time! I have Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail maps with points of interest available for the Northern Neck. Northern Neck Tourism email is: nntc@northernneck.org

Susan - Mar 30, 2015 at 7:14 AM

This post has inspired plans for a spring bike trip! I am planning a modified itinerary for Option 2, extending it into a 3-day trip. Will there be any problem with parking for 2 nights at the Mary Ball Washington Museum in Lancaster?

MBW Museum - Apr 24, 2015 at 11:18 AM

Hello riders - just a note that the parking area at the Mary Ball Washington Museum in Lancaster is actually a public county-owned lot and not managed by the Museum. There are only occasional parking restrictions when big events are happening at the museum. There are additional public lots across the street by the courthouse and sheriff's office. Enjoy your visit to the Northern Neck of Virginia!

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