Dropping Hikes In and Near Washington

15 Jaw-Dropping Hikes In and Near Washington, DC for All Levels | Reviews + Buyer’s Guide (2022)

Washington DC is one of those places where tourists see the monuments and politicians, which is great, but not everyone wants to get a little out of town and see the rest of the sites. If you’re one of those people, and you love getting outdoors, there are plenty of ways to explore Washington DC from the comfort of the metro. From iconic landmarks to serene nature preserves, here are 15 of the best hikes near the Washington, DC area.

1.    National Cemetery of Arlington

The National Cemetery of Arlington is a beautiful site set on 1,500 acres in Arlington County, Virginia. It’s the final resting place of many notable Americans, including President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.

“Among the thousands of graves that bear his name, Kennedy earned a place in the North Parish’s Rural Section, a wooden burial ground lined with headstones. The tranquil setting feels timeless, although the newest graves are dated from about 1650. Soon, Kennedy’s plot will join the others, carved out of local cherry and pine trees, topped with white marble, and facing the rise of the Potomac. The grove will no longer be an oasis but a shared space for all Arlington mourners,” according to the cemetery’s website.

2.    Great Falls

Taken from the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Great Falls is a nice hike that provides a nice view of the Washington Monument. According to the park service, the trail to the falls will take about 40 minutes to hike, and is well-marked. Be sure to bring water and wear sturdy shoes as the path can be slippery at times.

  • Trail of the Lonesome Pine

Another Washington, DC hike, Trail of the Lonesome Pine begins at the Capitol and follows a trail that winds through Rock Creek Park. The trail is about 8 miles and is a bit steep at times, so be sure to wear good walking shoes. The trail is flat for the majority of the hike, and you can spend most of your time admiring the Washington Monument as you make your way along the trail. You’ll also be able to see many of the city’s best views and the Capitol building.

4.    Miller’s Trail

Just a few miles away from the city, Miller’s Trail is located in the George Washington National Forest and is the longest hike in the National Capital Parks system. It’s a tough hike for anyone who is looking for a good challenge, and you’ll need to bring lots of water. It’s around 10 miles in length and includes a lot of steep climbs and falls.

The park service also notes that the trail is sometimes flooded or snowed in, so be sure to visit Miller’s Trail during the spring or summer when you can expect the trails to be in better shape. As you may expect, the trail is not well-marked and can be tough to follow, so be sure to bring a GPS with you.

5.    The Ledges

Often referred to as “The Ledges,” The Ledges is an easy hike for first-time hikers. The trail runs along the Potomac River and ends at the Ledges overlook. It’s only a little over 3 miles long and is flat the majority of the way.

6.    Capital Crescent Trail

The Capital Crescent Trail is an 82-mile trail system that runs from Cumberland, Maryland to Camp David, Maryland. The trail crosses through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country and is well-marked for beginners. It’s a great place to bring the family for a day hike if you don’t mind only taking a short hike.

7.    National Arboretum

Located on the National Mall in Washington, DC, the National Arboretum is the largest of its kind in the country and is a great place to check out if you’re looking for a nice, quiet place to hike. It features more than 50 acres of greenhouses and gardens. The only outdoor areas open to the public are the Frank Lloyd Wright Rose Garden and the Children’s Discovery Garden.

8.    National Mall and Memorial Parks

One of the most famous parks in the nation’s capital, the National Mall and Memorial Parks covers more than 200 acres of land and are known as the best place to spend time in Washington, DC. Each park has a unique look, so you can’t miss out on a visit if you want to take a nice stroll around the different areas of the city. Most visitors prefer to visit the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and leave the rest of the park for a day trip.

9.    Theodore Roosevelt Island

Sometimes referred to as “The Island,” Theodore Roosevelt Island is a good place to hike and explore nature. It’s located in the Anacostia River just a few miles east of the city, so it’s a great spot to visit if you’re looking for a day trip. The Island features spectacular views of the city and the river.

It’s located in the Anacostia River just a few miles east of the city, so it’s a great spot to visit if you’re looking for a day trip. The island has several picnic areas for visitors, but it is also a great place for birdwatching.

10.           Rock Creek Park

At over 600 acres, Rock Creek Park is the largest park in DC. It’s best known for its ferns, but it also has several hiking trails and is popular for biking. Rock Creek is also a favorite for trail running, and there are multiple 5K races held each year. There are also events throughout the year that encourage people to try outdoor activities and learn more about the park.

11.           Capitol Hill

One of the coolest places to visit in the nation’s capital, Capitol Hill is one of the most iconic spots in DC. It’s considered to be the country’s “Citizen Hill,” and every year, thousands of tourists visit the area for tours and to learn more about the political process. The tour guides are all dressed in period costumes and give a unique insight into what life was like on Capitol Hill before the Constitution was signed.

The area is home to many important buildings, and visitors can see some of the Smithsonian Museums and many other historical landmarks while on Capitol Hill. Many people visit Capitol Hill just for the experience of walking among the many monuments that line the streets. This is an easy area to explore on foot.

12.           Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon is one of the most famous historic homes in the world, and one of the most popular spots in DC. It’s also a great place to go for a hike, which visitors often do. The grounds have a large number of trails that visitors can enjoy, so no matter how you’re feeling, Mount Vernon has something to offer.

The home is home to George and Martha Washington and many of the original items that were used at the White House when the President lived there. If you’re looking for an easy place to hike in the city, this is the place to be.

13.           Museum of the American Indian

The Museum of the American Indian is one of the coolest museums in the country and is located in the bustling District of Columbia. The museum features a variety of Native American artifacts, including an amazing tapestry of the “Five Tribes of the Wind.” It’s a great place to explore and learn about Native American culture.

14.           Trail of Death

These next hikes are a bit hard to miss, as they’re one of the main drawcards to nearby Washington National Airport, and are described as “the Trail of Death.” The hike starts in front of the airport, at the most southwesterly of the three runways, and is quite a quick walk from the Airport; in fact, it’s the first hike on the right side of the airport runway when you’re looking toward the Washington Monument on a map.

The hike follows the paved and mostly flat runway before moving onto a less paved and more difficult rocky trail. The trail is very well-maintained, though, and after an hour of the trail, you’ll reach the ruins of the steamship H.M.S. Cerberus and get a great view of the monuments and Capitol Building. The remainder of the trail takes you a short distance past a local park before you’re on level ground once again.

15.           Red Run Trail

Running along the Potomac River between Washington and Georgetown, the Red Run Trail is great for beginners and adventurers alike. The trail is 9 miles long and follows a paved path along the river, though some sections of the trail include stairs and tunnels. Though it may take a little time to get used to the elevation change, the trail passes through woodlands and other open areas, offering a nice change of pace from the city. The Red Run Trail is often used as a running route for the Marine Corps Marathon, though the course takes runners on a slightly different path.

Tips for Choosing a Day Hike

While you might think that Washington, DC is a great place for a hiking trip, not everyone has the luxury of spending all day exploring the city. The area isn’t perfect and isn’t ideal for beginning hikers. Before embarking on any hiking adventure, it’s best to ask a local to help you find the best places to go. It’s also important to be prepared for the conditions that you’ll likely encounter.

If the area you plan to hike in is particularly rugged or difficult, you’ll want to have a higher level of fitness before heading out. In addition, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get to go on a full-day hike. There are many great paths and trails that you can explore for just a few hours. You can always plan a return trip.

There’s no doubt that there are a ton of great hiking trails in Washington, DC and it’s possible that you might not have time to get out and explore all of them. That’s why we went ahead and compiled a list of some of the most iconic trails in the area. Whether you choose to visit a National Park or a city park, you’re sure to find a trail that you like.

Whether you have your sights set on one of the trails or a city park, it’s important to remember that everything is not created equal. Different hiking trails in DC have different degrees of difficulty and might not be great places to go if you’re not a trained hiker. But we do promise that you will never regret a day spent enjoying the outdoors.

The District of Columbia offers more than just great scenery. There are several trails and areas to explore that will keep you busy all day long. It’s an ideal spot to escape the stress of everyday life or to spend an afternoon exploring a new part of the country.

Wrapping – Up!

Whatever type of hiker you are, we hope this post helped you choose a fun trail in Washington, DC. The city has a ton to offer for both seasoned hikers and novices looking for some variety. Whether you plan to take a day trip or find your way out there to explore, these 15 favorite trails and parks are sure to please. If you’re planning a trip to DC, you might also enjoy our list of the most romantic restaurants and bars in the city. Do you have a favorite trail in the city? Do you have a favorite trail in the city? What’s your favorite trail in the area? Let us know in the comments. Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and family.

Happy hiking!

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