Best places to go camping and hiking in the DMV area this fall
Put your hiking shoes on and enjoy scenic routes and stunning sights in and around the D.C. area
The Cherry Blossom Festival is a D.C. staple for spring, but where can you find equally or even more stunning nature in the fall? Treat yourself to a city escape in nature this autumn with the DMV’s wide range of hiking and campground locations — some even in Tenleytown’s backyard.
At the intersection of spectacular views, skyscraper trees and hours-long hikes is Shenandoah National Park. Rewarding hikes include Hawksbill Summit and Whiteoak Trailhead. Each trail and overlook has their own spectacular set of views ranging from mountain ranges to waterfalls. If you’re looking for early morning drives, Skyline Drive at sunrise is unlike any other.
- Virginia, roughly two hours from D.C., campsites available. This destination is only accessible by car. Limited universally accessible trails. If you’re interested in visiting this site regularly, we recommend purchasing a yearly pass.
Arguably one of the closest natural beauties to the nation’s capital, the walk along the C&O is an exquisite place to enjoy a picture perfect moment. Pedestrians and bicyclists alike can enjoy ground level views along the canal, while also enjoying the unique stone faced cliffs parallel to the trail. If you’re also looking for a more urban hike, the trail conveniently leads into Georgetown.
- Maryland, roughly 15 minutes from D.C. Accessible via gravel paths or by car — however, parking is limited. Gravel trail provides quick access to “off the beaten path” foot trails alongside the water.
The breathtaking views make up for the lack of goats along this trail. Much of the gravel trail looks down on the river, with steep footpaths by the river. While the river view is nice, the gravel path offers a more scenic and worthwhile route. The views looking down on the river are truly better from above. This trail is most frequented by pedestrians, cyclists and dogs alike, so the early morning hours are better for trail hikers.
- Maryland, roughly 20 minutes from D.C. The main trail, accessible from multiple parking lots, is a mostly straight and flat path. This site is beginner level and lets those who are comfortable with steeper walks access the water.
If Washington, D.C. housed the eighth wonder of the world, Rock Creek Park would be it. It’s one of the largest urban parks in the city, with over 2,000 acres, and does not disappoint. Its various trails lead into different corners of the city — each with its own unique green views. Areas of the trail also include scenic fields, vegetable gardens and wooden picnic tables.
- Inside D.C., no campground but various picnic areas and trails. Most footpaths are accessible from multiple locations, but parking may be limited depending on entry points.
Great Falls is one of the most famous hiking trails in the DMV due to its outstanding water views. The gushing sounds of the waterfall will draw you to the main focal point: the stunning rock side views of roaring waves. With overlooks along many of the routes, it’s hard to miss the gorgeous, white foam ridges Great Falls has to offer.
- Roughly 25 minutes from D.C. Main entrance leads to abundant parking and accessible footpaths.
The DMV is home to a wide range of paths, trails and campsites that are suitable for any nature lover — new or experienced!