While Washington, DC is a fantastic city to visit, there are also many hidden nature sights and interesting trails to visit in the surrounding area.
Fortunately, DC is close to some fantastic parks and hiking paths, many of which are even within the city limits! We had a hard time narrowing down this list because there are so many fantastic hiking opportunities near DC.
To assist you in planning your next outdoor excursion, we’ve put together a list of 15 of the best hikes near DC, so you can get started.
If you enjoy nature as much as I do, or simply want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, we’ll show you some fantastic places to go trekking, see gorgeous wildlife, and witness spectacular falls. Near DC, you’ll find the best summer hikes, uncrowded treks, and hikes with waterfalls.
You may take a weekend trip to spend more time exploring, breathing fresh air, and connecting with nature.
Hiking is beneficial for both the body and the soul, so get out there and explore some of the best hikes near DC.
Best Hikes Near DC
1. Theodore Roosevelt Island
Theodore Roosevelt Island is located in the Potomac River in Washington, DC. With a 1.6-mile loop track for walkers of all levels, this small island provides a natural respite from the city.
This accessible trail features boardwalks over marsh regions, clean wooded forest roads, and an opportunity to escape Washington DC while remaining within its city borders.
Theodore Roosevelt Island is easily accessible by public transit because it is located in the heart of the city. A lovely footbridge across the river connects to the island from the main parking area. After arriving on the island, get on the route and enjoy this great, scenic DC trek.
The park was created by landscape architects and environmentalists who did an outstanding job transforming the neglected Masons Island into a serene haven. The forest they made from overgrown fields was supposed to resemble the natural forest that formerly existed there.
There are three paths in the park. Each route passes through a different type of ecosystem and is named after it. So you have the option of choosing between the Woods, the Marsh, or the Upland Trail. The Swamp Trail is the longest at 1.5 miles, although it’s a short walk because it’s partially boardwalk and partly pea gravel.
Because the island is located in the city, you will need to take a bus to get there. It is easily accessible by a bridge that spans the Potomac River on the Virginia side. Parking is available on the island or in a garage near the pedestrian entrance. Dogs must be on a leash. This is the best option for hiking especially if you are looking for the best hikes near DC.
2. Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park, one of Washington DC’s largest parks, is more of a network of routes through natural and historic attractions than a trail. When you get in the park, you may choose from a range of trails and walks, some easy and some more difficult, for a perfect day of exploring what is, in our opinion, one of the city’s most quiet green places.
Visit Valley Trail in Rock Creek Park for beautiful vistas and woodland paths. Don’t miss the Pierce Mill gristmill, the Rolling Meadow Footbridge, and Miller Cabin, all of which are historic sights inside the park. Try a rock scramble at Pulpit Rock if you’re looking for some high-intensity sports.
The Park features two main trails and several connecting paths, allowing you to design a circle that suits your fitness level and mood. It’s important to remember that signage isn’t always accurate, and it’s possible to get off track.
Keep an eye out for wildlife. Deer, foxes, and a variety of birds live in the park. Some of the roads are closed throughout the weekend to allow park visitors to cycle and inline skate. Your dogs are welcome to accompany you, but they must be kept on a leash. Along the road, there are plenty of parking sites.
Park’s Opening hours: Sunrise to sunset. The Park is closed on public holidays.
Entrance fee: Free of charge
Official Website: Click here to access the official website
3. National Arboretum
The National Arboretum is a lesser-known jewel of a park located within DC’s city borders that offers some of the best hiking in the city. The trails in this urban park are lovely and well-kept, ideal for hikers of all abilities or those who simply wish to go for a walk.
On one of the park’s numerous gardens and walks, you may learn about the various trees and plants that grow natively in the DC area. A tourist centre with extra information and events is also available throughout the year.
While the park is best renowned for its ancient Capitol columns, it also has a number of hiking paths that are worth exploring on foot. Starting at the Capitol columns and following the park’s paths into other parts and sections of the grounds will help you avoid the throng.
Our favourite place is the Asian Collections, which has wonderful sprawling trees and shady benches where you can sit and enjoy nature or perhaps try forest bathing.