Whether you’re hiking for exercise, walking the dog, or simply to get out into nature, here are 10 great trails in the Washington, DC
metro area to explore.
This is a great option for those looking for a stroll or an easy hike outdoors, while also doing a bit of touristy exploration. The 88.5 acre island in the Potomac river has a number of walking trails and is easily accessible from DC by foot or car. You can see a number of DC monuments and sights from the trails.
Roosevelt Island, Washington, DC, USA
Harpers Ferry boasts some gorgeous vistas any time of year, with Blue Ridge Mountain landscapes, river views, and a dose of history. It has over 20 miles of trails ranging from the flat C&O Canal towpath to the more strenuous Maryland Heights trail which has challenging climbs that take you past stone forts, trenches, and other Civil War relics.
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, USA
Harpers Ferry | Courtesy of National Park Service
Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge
This wildlife refuge offers a four-mile hike along the park’s estuaries and bay beaches, and the chance to see bald eagles during the summer! Portions of the trail are subject to closure from December through June to protect nesting bald eagles, but the summer is a great time to visit to see the plant life in the area.
Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge, High Point, Lorton, VA, USA
Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge | Courtesy of Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge
This moderate 7.4-mile loop hike is a popular one due to its proximity from DC. In addition to nice views, it offers a fairly challenging, tree covered hike that will have you doing a lot of uphill. Sugarloaf is a privately owned park, but is open to the public.
Sugarloaf Mountain, Urbana, MD, USA
Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park
Another chance to get immersed in life while in the city, Rock Creek Park is a sprawling park situated inside DC and has a number of trails of varying difficulty. There are a mix of natural surfaces for hikers, runners and equestrians and paved paths for cyclists and other users. Hiking through this park’s natural setting, visitors will come across a lot of historic sites, picnic areas, creeks, rock scrambling, and peace. The Western Ridge Trail and the Valley trails are popular options.
Rock Creek Park Visitor Center, 5200 Glover Rd NW, Washington, DC, USA
Rock Creek Park | Courtesy of Rock Creek Park
Shenandoah – Old Rag
The Old Rag Mountain hike in Shenandoah National Park is one of the most popular hikes in the area and a favorite of hikers for its challenging rock scrambles. While it is over an hour’s drive from the city, the spectacular views make it absolutely worth the effort. It’s best to get here early as this hike can get extremely popular.
Old Rag Mountain, 3577 Nethers Rd, Etlan, VA, USA
This Maryland Park is home the Presidential retreat Camp David, but also features over 25 miles of hiking trails through acres of hardwood forest. The moderately strenuous Falls Nature Trail takes you to Cunningham Falls, the tallest waterfall in Maryland, and the easier Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail takes you to the site where a large commercial moonshine operation stood until a raid in 1929.
Catoctin Trail, 6602 Foxville Rd, Thurmont, MD, USA