The 10 Best Hiking Trails Near Washington, DC

Hiking | © US Department of the Interior/Flickr
Hiking | © US Department of the Interior/Flickr

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.

Harpers Ferry

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

Great Falls – Billy Goat

The Billy Goat Trail Hike in Great Falls National Park on the Maryland side is just outside the city, and has three sections of varying difficulty. Parts of the hike require rock scrambling, and a climb up a rock wall, but other sections are significantly easier. The “A” section of the trail offers scenic river views and takes a couple of hours to complete.

Great Falls National Park (MD), 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac, MD, USA

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

Rock Creek Park

Map View
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.

Catoctin Trail

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

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