Beautiful Walking Trails in Washington DC
Recently, around the district and all over the world, the Corona Virus Pandemic has been keeping everyone inside and at home. With the warmer weather, getting outside for some fresh air is a welcome change to our living rooms and home offices. We personally have found that nothing raises our spirits more than a nice walk out in the sunshine with our families. Grab a lunch, grab a friend (stay 6 feet apart!) and get outside! Who knew that there were so many beautiful walking trail options near and in Washington DC? From trails rich in history, to water views and wildlife galore, there is sure to be something to please everyone. Tag along as we quickly describe some of the gorgeous walking trails to enjoy in Washington DC (while practicing social distancing of course!). Which trails have you visited recently? Let us know in the comments, we are always looking for new suggestions and activities we can try with our family and friends!
C&O Canal Towpath (Chesapeake & Ohio Canal)
Georgetown Visitor Center Address:
1057 Thomas Jefferson Street NW
Washington, DC 20007
Running parallel to the Potomac River and easily accessible from Georgetown in Washington DC, this 184.5-mile-long trail is definitely a fan favorite. Perfect for bike riding, jogging or a quick walk there is plenty of nature and sights to see. Operating for nearly 100 years, you will also find a good amount of history along your towpath journey. Because this trail is so expansive (It runs all the way to Cumberland, MD!) you can visit one of the many visitor centers located along the trail to learn everything you can do during your visit here and to plan your trip. There is no main entrance but in Washington DC, the trail can be accessed in Georgetown on 29th Street NW. This trail is maintained by the National Park Service
, so be sure to check their website before you visit for any closures, detours or construction information.
Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
Anacostia Park, 1900 Anacostia Dr, Washington, DC 20020
Used by bikers, walkers and commuters alike, the Anacostia Riverwalk
is a 20-mile continuous trail along the Anacostia riverfront. Those who have visited the trail describe wide walkways, lots of sunshine and beautiful sunrises. The Anacostia Riverwalk trail can be accessed by the Navy Yard and near the Washington Nationals Ballpark. There is access to public parking lots as well as nearby metro stations. There are multiple sites of interest and dining locations close to the trail if you are looking to make a quick stop during your visit! If interested in viewing the local wildlife and nature views, be sure to stop by the Kingman and Heritage Islands
located along the Benning Road section of this trail. The Kingman and Heritage Islands are a state conservation area “providing a beautiful natural backdrop against the bustling capitol” (Kingmanisland.org). Here you can bird watch, fish, hike and have picnics with family and friends. With over a mile of trails on this island you will have plenty to explore and enjoy. This island is also host to plenty of outdoor educational programs. Visit their website for more information on offerings and schedules (*COVID-19 may have an effect on this schedule and/or offerings).
The National Mall
“Located in the Heart of the Nation’s Capital” (National Park Service)
The National Mall Spans from the steps of the U.S. Capitol to the banks of the Potomac River. Considered “America’s Front Yard” by the National Park Service, there is plenty to see and do during your visit. Depending on your speed and how many stops you make, you can usually walk from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol in under an hour. Some will argue that daytime is the best time to visit, but others describe this walk being just as gorgeous in the evening when everything seems to be aglow with light. Lounge and relax on warm sunny days or explore all of the history surrounding you with all of the free monuments and memorials located throughout the mall. A popular stop for tourists and residents is the Washington Monument. According to the national park service website, the Washington Monument was built to “honor and memorialize George Washington at the center of the Nation’s Capital.” Spring is a popular time to take this walk as you can experience the cherry blossoms along the tidal basin in all their bloom and glory. During cherry blossom season there is also a variety of parades and events throughout the district for all to enjoy. Popular for photos, the array of pink is certainly a sight to see and is definitely recommended if you are in the area during peak bloom. CLICK HERE
for information on parking and transportation options.
Rock Creek Park
5200 Glover Road, NW, Washington, D.C.
Near the intersection of Military Road and Glover Road
You can access Rock Creek Park from the Nature Center and Planetarium located on Glover Road in Washington DC. The National Park Service
describes this park as “…the opportunity to escape the bustle of the city and find a peaceful refuge, recreation, fresh air, majestic trees, wild animals and thousands of years of human history.” This park is HUGE! With over 32 miles of trails, it is great for runners, walkers, hikers, cycling- you name it! It is a gorgeous nature walk with easy paths for all to enjoy. For the horse enthusiast, there are 13 miles of dirt/gravel path that you can ride your horses on and they also offer lessons and trail rides. Do you like to Golf? There is a public course with a clubhouse (can be accessed from 16th street and Rittenhouse Street NW). Playgrounds, picnic areas…the list really could go on. You can spend the entire day in Rock Creek Park and never get bored!
Mount Vernon Trail
Along the George Washington Memorial Parkway
The Mount Vernon Trail is 18 miles of gorgeous Potomac River views from George Washington’s Mount Vernon to Theodore Roosevelt Island. Anyone who loves a good water view is going to love this trail. Frequented by bikers, runners and walkers alike, this trail has been described by visitors as clean and well maintained with scenic views. If you find yourself on the stretch of the trail that passes through the Alexandria Waterfront, you will find an array of dining, shopping and activity options. Interested in riding a bike along the trail? You can find bike rental options at the waterfront as well. This beautiful tree-lined path is one of the best walking trails near Washington DC and is sure to excite the nature lovers in all of us. You can find parking lots at several points along the trail on the George Washington Parkway. It is also accessible from the Metro’s Blue and Orange lines. Some other local trails that can be accessed from the Mount Vernon Trail are: Rock Creek, Four Mile Run, and the Woodrow Wilson Trail. CLICK HERE
to read about “the top 10 things to see along the mount Vernon trail”
Photo by Humphrey Muleba from Pexels
As with any hiking and walking trail safety is super important! Be sure to research the park or trail that you will be visiting and check the local weather reports to make sure that you will be dressed appropriately. Be sure to pack lots of water to stay hydrated and snacks to keep your energy up. If possible, try to visit with a family member or friend. If this is not possible make sure someone is aware, knows where you are and when to expect your home! CLICK HERE to read some great safety tips from the National Park Service
We hope you find some time to get out and enjoy the sunshine with those you love sometime soon! Our team members love to visit the trails and spend afternoons exploring all that they have to offer! Whether it is a quick stroll or an entire day, there are so many opportunities to learn, play, relax and enjoy all that nature has to offer. As always be kind to our trails, pick up after yourself and enjoy the wildlife from a respectful distance. Have any reviews of the above walking trails? Share them with us in the comments along with any tips or general insights about each location!