15 Best Hikes Near DC

best hikes near dc

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

best hikes near dc

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

best hikes near dc

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

best hikes near dc

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.

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4. Mount Vernon Trail

best hikes near dc

This 18-mile walking, hiking, and biking trail connects Mount Vernon (yes, George Washington’s birthplace) to Theodore Roosevelt Island. It’s a great place for families, runners, bikers, and history fans to go trekking near DC in a historic and gorgeous location.


You can get great views of the Washington, DC skyline from various areas of the trail. The Mount Vernon Trail, which is accessible without a car, is ideal for a day excursion from DC to Mount Vernon or as a short adventure starting in the capital.

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5. Scott’s Run Nature Preserve

best hikes near dc

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is the ideal trail for those who wish to experience the tranquillity of a waterfall trek without having to go a big distance. It’s a short and simple journey through the forest to this riverbank waterfall perspective, and it’s one of the closest waterfall hikes to DC. However, if you want to hike around Scott’s Run, you’ll need a car to get here.


Scott’s Run Trail is a 2.2-mile circle through the woods that includes a stream crossing and some gentle slopes. The trail is dog-friendly and a good length for a morning walk. This family-friendly trail, which is suitable for children of all ages, is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable and doable treks around Washington.


The waterfall is without a doubt the highlight of Scott’s Nature Preserve. The Potomac Gorge Nature Preserve is located in the Potomac Gorge. In its floodplains, valleys, and cliff walls, the Preserve protects a unique environment. Wildflowers bloom on the hillsides and cover the forest floor with beautiful colours in the spring. Plants cling precariously over rock faces.


Oaks, cherry trees, and beech trees can all be found in the woodland. Visitors are reminded that the area was formerly frozen by ancient hemlock trees.


The waterfall is easily reached via forest pathways and is only a short stroll away. Head to Stubblefield’s Overlook for a lengthier hike. Scott’s Run is a 3.2-mile trail that winds through the woods, crosses a brook, and ascends into the hills. Some of the trails are especially difficult and should only be attempted by those who are up to the task.


The waterfall is easily reached via forest pathways and is only a short stroll away. Head to Stubblefield’s Overlook for a lengthier hike. Scott’s Run is a 3.2-mile trail that winds through the woods, crosses a brook, and ascends into the hills. Some of the trails are especially difficult and should only be attempted by those who are up to the task.

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