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Potomac Heritage Trail is a 19.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Arlington County, Virginia that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 19.2 miles Elevation Gain: 1,673 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

hiking
muddy
over grown
22 days ago

Giving this a 4 stars because I love the Potomac River. The trail itself is not bad but nothing spectacular. It is a good trail for beginner hikers that want to be close to a residential neighborhood, highway or city while still getting a bit of nature. Still, if you love the Potomac River and enjoy seeing people in their own world fishing or kayaking as you hike on by then the Potomac Heritage Trail is worth the hike.

hiking
3 months ago

Finished hiking the complete length of this trail today-have done it in pieces over the last week or so. While it does have some nice bits and pieces, it has some really unfortunate sections, including multiple stretches that require walking on the curbside of the GW Parkway, and some views of the DMV’s finest underage drinking spots. Watch out for copperheads when you are down by the riverside! If you don’t want to leave the area, your time is better spent in Rock Creek Park.

hiking
over grown
5 months ago

We hiked this trail from key bridge to chain bridge road. It's not very scenic, you're next to GW Parkway for a good bit, it's not very well maintained and the last quarter mile or so before chain bridge is unmarked. There are some scenic spots, and some nice water falls, but for the most part this was underwhelming. The best part of this trail is that for a trail connected to a city it was not heavily trafficked. So if you ignore the car noise, it is peaceful. We're probably not going to do this trail again.

hiking
muddy
over grown
6 months ago

I visited this trail in late spring. I parked at Roosevelt Island and walked to Chain Bridge. I do not recommend walking this trail between Spring and Summer as their is an infestation of Copperhead Snakes. While walking this trail the snakes were hatching from their eggs and I may have seen up to 50 snakes on my short walk. It was an obstacle course just trying to avoid stepping on them. Aside from the snakes the trail is not that scenic. It basically hugs the Potomac River and is filled with foliage. After I arrived at Chain Bridge I crossed the bridge and walked back to Georgetown via the C&O Canal path. I then crossed the Georgetown bridge and walked back to my car.

hiking
closed
over grown
rocky
scramble
washed out
7 months ago

There is a trail closed sign at the trail head on Rosevelt Island, what this means is really questionable, but maybe the trail is really closed?? Maybe it should be. Anyway my party and I went to the next trail accessible spot at the Potomac Overlook Regional Park and went down the Donaldson Run. Much of this trail crosses back and forth across a steam which would make this very difficult during high water, there were several trees down and the trail blazes were hard to follow. Once we got to the Potomac Heritage Trail we found much of the same, trees down, rock slides, areas where if the water was high would be impossible. There is one spot where a tree has fallen and taken out an important section of railing. It was fun and challenging but certainly not the urban hike I was envisioning. We laughed at our circumstances many times. Boots, hiking stick, water, and a downloaded map are a must.

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
snow
Sat Jan 19 2019

Did this trail after a big snow storm. Hiked from Cherrydale area, through Potomac Overlook Park, and from there to Roosevelt Island. A nice remote hike in the middle of the city.

hiking
Mon Oct 15 2018

Fun trail between Key Bridge and Chain Bridge. It is overgrown and as you approach Chain Bridge it is very poorly marked. Does remind me of the Billy Goat Trail at times. Lots of rocks and creeks to cross. Beautiful views. We walked back to Key Bridge on the tow path.

hiking
Tue Sep 11 2018

The trail is not maintained, overgrown vegetation in most of the trail areas where you can barely walk through it. The trail ends short about 3 miles due to fallen tree and now way to get to the other side unless you kayak through the waters. At the end I returned to my vehicle door crow barred at the top/failed attempt to break in my vehicle in the main parking lot. A lot of runners, kayaking, bikers. Seemed safe, just never know

walking
Tue Jan 02 2018

hiking
Thu Nov 09 2017

Great trail. Just be warned that between Key Bridge and Chain Bridge up river a couple of miles there are some very challenging sections climbing over rocks on an extremely narrow trail. Almost as challenging as the steepest section of Billy Goat Trail. This is just before the waterfall. There is also about half a mile of walking along the GW Parkway, a quarter mile of which is literally on the shoulder. Good views even there. Great views elsewhere. One last warning. Do not fall into the river! People drown every year falling in near this trail.

hiking
Mon Feb 06 2017

great trail, plenty of traditional climbing potential about 2 -3 miles in

Tue Aug 30 2016

My first time using the app and what a great find!! Such a great trail!

Sun Aug 14 2016

Best in the fall

Tue Jun 07 2016

trail was beautiful by the river and not too many people. but the noise pollution...all you could hear was cars, boats or airplanes.

hiking
Wed May 18 2016

Trails are sometime narrow, but there is a nice stream that runs along some of the trails- many off shoots and little nooks. Sat around 30th St N and had lunch.

hiking
Sun Dec 13 2015

Great hike, close to home! Waterfall at Windy Run was pretty cool!

Sun Oct 04 2015

Surprisingly woodsy and quiet for a trail so close to the city. Love this one!

hiking
Fri Jul 03 2015

Parts were beautiful. Terrain is not boring. Lots of intermittent litter.

hiking
Sat Jan 18 2014

Great trail. We do this with adults and kids. Particularly like entering at Potomac Overlook park in Arlington and hiking up to the Chain Bridge. Watch out for the tidal fluctuations in the Potomac. We have seen the trail swamped very quickly.

running
Mon Nov 18 2013

I had an amazing time on this loop. I'm training for a trail run in a couple months so I thought this might be good practice. I started at Theodore Roosevelt Island, followed the river up to Chain Bridge, crossed the river, and came down the C&O Canal towpath. Aside from a couple places on Potomac Heritage where I didn't pay close enough attention to the blazes, the trail is well-marked and easy to follow. I got off-path a few times at creek crossings. On the bright side, there were enough people out (sporadically) that I never actually got lost. Potomac Heritage can be a bit technical at times--w/ rock scrambling and ducking trees--but I felt that added fun to the trail. I would stress caution on the creek crossings and rock scrambling though; it rained the night before so the rocks were fairly slick. The towpath, on the other hand, was a flat, gravel path; it was a nice change of pace after the previous workout. It's also very easy to get back to Roosevelt Island once you cross over the Key Bridge (cross on the left side of the bridge--so traffic is on your right--and you can follow the sidewalk to the bike path. Roosevelt Island is a quarter mile down the bike path). I really can't wait to run this loop again. I might even take the time to stop for pictures b/c the scenery is fantastic.

hiking
Sun Oct 23 2011

It is lovely to experience nature in the city! This hike provides the best of both worlds to city and suburbanite dwellers!

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