Roundup: The best places to hike in the DC area
A guide to escaping the city
D.C., Maryland and Virginia provide many opportunities to escape the museums, monuments and politics of downtown, and instead appreciate the nature of the region; especially as the seasons change.
Here are some of the best places to hike in the D.C. area that are just a stone’s throw from American University main campus.
This 5.7 mile long trail runs from the south edge of Tenleytown to the Potomac River shoreline in Georgetown. The trail takes approximately two hours to complete and is moderately difficult, according to AllTrails. The Glover-Archbold Trail provides lush scenery and the rare opportunity to spot some wildlife in the middle of the city.
The north crest of the trail is just a 5 minute walk from campus.
This 1,754 acre oasis spans across the District and over the Maryland border into Silver Spring. In 1890, it became the third national park. Rock Creek Park is a hub of history, with picturesque colonial homes and structures dating back to the Civil War, according to the National Park Service. It also contains a planetarium, golf course and borders the Smithsonian National Zoo.
The park has over 32 miles of hiking trails, which mainly consist of the Western Ridge Trail and the Valley Trail running from north to south. Other connecting paths run from east to west, like rungs on a ladder, to amass a total of 16 trails.
Some popular hikes are the Milkhouse Ford Hike, Rapids Bridge Hike, Rolling Meadows Bridge Hike, Boulder Bridge Hike, Jusserand Memorial Loop and Bridge Loop Trail, which all vary in length from two to eight miles. The park’s best aspect is its variety and flexibility. Hikers are free to design their own hike through distance and level of difficulty.
Rock Creek Park is a quick walk from the Metro Red Line stations of Van Ness, Cleveland Park and Woodley Park.
This car and bicycle free island sits in the middle of the Potomac between Foggy Bottom and Arlington, Virginia. This neglected farmland was reforested in the 1930s to honor Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation efforts. He is memorialized there with a 17-foot national monument on the island.
The island is a popular location for bird watching and consists of three main trails. The Swamp Trail has a boardwalk, while the Upland and Woods Trails are graveled.
Theodore Roosevelt Island is accessible by a pedestrian bridge that is a quick walk from the Metro Orange Line station in Rosslyn.
This Maryland park is a popular camping and hiking location. The Perimeter Trail is the longest, at approximately five miles. Others include the Azalea Trail, Dogwood Trail and Blueberry Trail. The National Park Service describes it as “A Hidden Jewel” just 10 miles from the Washington Monument.
Greenbelt Park is accessible by the Metro Green Line station in Greenbelt and then either the G14 or R12 bus lines.
Great Falls Park is located just 15 miles outside of D.C. on the border of Maryland and Virginia. This beautiful 800-acre oasis offers hiking paths as well as breathtaking waterfall views. Most of Great Falls Park is forested, yet the most popular attraction is the waterfall at the center of the park. This picturesque sight is created as the Potomac River falls over the jagged rocks of the Mather Gorge.
Aside from the natural beauty that Great Falls Park provides, hikers can also immerse themselves in the history of the park. For thousands of years, Great Falls has been a popular location for trade, fishing and was even once home to an amusement park, according to the National Park Service.
Great Falls Park is approximately a 30 minute drive from campus.
This article was edited by Maria Tedesco, Patricia McGee and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Charlie Mennuti.