Explore the most popular dog friendly trails in District of Columbia with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Did this trail the other day and it was fun. Very cool, a stream valley trail type hike. I followed the recommendation of another review to do the trail backwards, I agree with this because the mid to end of the trail you end up in the city and it's nice to get lunch there. Just make sure you are walking on the west side of the 66 (walking with traffic) to get back otherwise you will end up stranded and having to loop back if you walk against the traffic going East. This adds on another 2 miles or so lol. But it was so fun and you get to scramble a bit and see multiple waterfalls. Be careful because you dont see blue marks for a while around the time you end up seriously rock scrambling before hitting the final waterfall (assuming you do the trail in reverse, otherwise this will be your first waterfall. Oh and you might get a little wet, just a little though.

9-22-2018 Beautiful day for a hike. The four of us started out in the parking lot on Canal street(the down the ramp) We crossed the little foot bridge by the bathroom and took a left onto the upper gravel trail deciding the lower paved trail is for road bikes. following this trail for about 3.5 miles we wound up in Georgetown Waterfront Park. We continued along the water front (which was our first mistake) we should have stayed up, so when we got to the bridge we were standing Under it, so had to figure out how to get UP to bridge. When we got to top, we walked across only to figure out we were on the wrong side, so had to do U turn back under and across the parkway. Back on the trail we walked another 7.5 miles along the Potomac through the weeds and over some pretty good rock scrambles. Thank goodness the river wasn't any higher or not sure what we would have done. As is was we had to get wet crossing in a few places. All of our devices said total miles were closer to 11.

Very pretty, but would not advise on bike. Very overgrown in some places, and occasionally narrow and dangerous

This trail was....interesting with two dogs haha. It’s listed as dog-friendly and for most of the hike it totally is! But once you get to the Potomac Heritage Trail portion it gets a little (and by a little I mean a lot lol) confusing. The blue markers totally disappear for the most confusing part (right when it splits off into this incredibly rocky area). I was very doubtful because I thought it was supposed to be a more standard trail, so I was walking in circles retracing my steps trying to find more of those blue markers! But alas, I just trusted my instincts which told me to stay parallel to the river and I eventually saw some more of those beautiful markers. The “rock climbing” aspect of the hike was very unexpected but soooo fun. And luckily my dogs freaking loved it! I thought I’d have to turn around at first because those boulders were tough to manage with the two of them, but we all did it and I’m so glad we did :) by far one of the most interesting and fun hikes I’ve been on. Just be prepared for the rocky section and the occasional lack of trail markers. Trust yourself that you’re going the right way (as long as you’re following the river) and have fun!!

Edit: oh also! There’s a part where you’re walking directly parallel to this major highway directly in the hot sun. Just be prepared for this if you have dogs!! We had to take a ton of water breaks on this stretch and I had to make sure I was holding their leashes extra tight and watching them like hawks.

7 months ago

Don’t take your pup.

The first part of the trail (clockwise) runs along Rock Creek Parkway. If you’re out for a long run, it’s worth it. If you’re out for a hike you should drop this section. This section is also a dangerous place to have a dog on a leash. The width of the path gets down to two people wide with the busy parkway right next to the trail at points - no one walks here, it’s 100% runners and bicyclists...add a dog on a leash and we’re asking for an accident that could end up with a someone in the road. For the last 5 years I’ve lived near, run down and commuted on this section...I’ve rarely seen people walking and I’ve never seen a dog on this section.

Nice hike. Great for a nice morning hike.

So first off, I would recommend doing this hike in reverse. With an easy, scenic start for the first 2 miles on the Virginia side, the next two miles have some intermittent sections of difficulty with some narrow, rugged terrain and rock scrambling/climbing and stream crossings (and waterfall sightings) if the water level is high enough. (FYI - Along this part of the trail the blazes switch between blue and turquoise). At about mile 3.5, you’ll cross the Gulf Branch waterfall, where you’ll start the uphill climb immediately up the right side (markings were a tad difficult to find). There is a steep, rocky incline with some metal handrails put in (for well-needed and greatly appreciated assistance) along the 30-40 foot climb. Then little switchbacks get you the rest of the way up (~150 ft) to GW parkway. You’ll descend under the parkway overpass towards Glebe road and then under the Chain Bridge. Allow ~3 hours for the Virginia side of the hike. Cross the bridge on left side into D.C. and then down the ramp to the tow path on the C&O canal. This section is wide and flat, and full of joggers and people on bikes, and I wouldn’t really consider it a hike, but an easy stroll/cooldown. In about a mile you’ll happen across restrooms, water and a snackbar at Fletcher’s Cove. Which can provide a well needed leg rest before pushing on to finish the loop or ending there (parking lot is large). Should allow at least 2 hours for the DC side of the walk.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Fairly busy on the tow path. At times shoulder to shoulder with someone. On the trails off of the tow path there is not a soul in sight. I would recommend the mining trail.

on Georgetown Loop

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Friday, November 03, 2017

I’ve lived in DC for ten years and never knew about quite a bit of this loop. What a wonderful little adventure I had! I walked out my front door and up to the Calvert bridge to start the loop. There are a couple very urban spots where you transition from trail to trail but otherwise it’s naturesque and just lovely. If you know Rock Creek Parkway, a good portion is beside it so you will see and hear some cars, but the more idyllic portions outweigh this. Recommend if you don’t feel like driving out of town to get to a trailhead.

Beautiful day, and the trail is in great shape, though sometimes hard to follow. TRUST YOUR AllTrails app! I didn't the first time and it cost me. Took about 3 hours of walk time, most of that on the Virginia side. Be aware that parking at Roosevelt Island is limited to 2 hours, so you might want to pick a more time-appropriate spot to start. (I wasn't ticketed , however) Coming back I took the Key Bridge instead of the Roosevelt Bridge, which shaved a few miles off. The VA side is moderately challenging, the DC side is quite easy, and even has a new-looking and very clean restroom. :)

trail running
Sunday, July 16, 2017

Nice trail with a fair amount of shade which helps on a summer day when it hits 90!

Nice trail with a few technical spots. The weeds were starting to grow around the single track portion of the trail but the trail itself was packed and runnable. Few rocks but no hand over foot. Great little scenic trail near the city. Ran it before work.

trail running
Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Good for running, but views aren't anything special (there are better trails in the park) and crowded.

mountain biking
Monday, January 16, 2017

More vertical and more bike and foot traffic than I would have liked.

mountain biking
Monday, January 16, 2017

Nice, but a lot of people. Even in the winter.

trail running
Thursday, January 05, 2017

While I never completed this exact loop all at once, I walked/hiked/jogged/biked the different sections (Rock Creek Parkway south from the National Zoo, the C&O Canal, and the Georgetown University and Dumbarton Oaks areas) many times during my previous life in DC and Northern Virginia. I love Georgetown. It was a wonderful place to spend time both exploring and exercising!

mountain biking
Sunday, November 20, 2016

The amount of elevation gain may surprise you if you are expecting level all the way. But it was a nice ride.

mountain biking
Sunday, November 20, 2016

Beautiful rail trail. There were several others on bikes.

mountain biking
Monday, September 05, 2016

The wife and I biked 15 miles North from Great Falls, which made the whole ride 30 miles. Pretty flat trail which didn't provide any time to coast. This intensified the workout because we were initially only going to ride 10 miles North, but because it was so flat we pushed it an additional 5 miles. The scenery was nice; trees, river, creek. Your typical hiking environment. But, I would prefer more visual stimulation. We'll try the section starting from Cumberland next time.

Starts off nice from Roosevelt Island. Getting closer to Chain Bridge, the trail markings disappear and it gets very rocky. Stick near the water line and you'll make it to Chain Bridge. The way back down the C&O canal tow path is flat and easy but very little shade. Nice little boat house with snacks and drinks about half way down towards Georgetown. Definitely will do this again but not on the hottest day of the year.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Solid dog walking trail, but pretty practical in terms of scenery. Would go to have a walk and talk

This was our first visit to the Turkey Run portion of the Potomac Heritage trail area. While not a longer trek, seeing the area in the late winter time frame was well worth the time. The high water levels--and the obviously powerful current therein, was impressive. So to was the abundance of quartzite formations littering the place. The trails are rugged, well marked and diverse. The proximity to the ranger station and bathrooms (closed due to the season) are pluses. The little picnic area by the parking lot could use some gussying up, but that's just a style point. All in all, my son and I loved it. We'll do it again!

Friday, September 04, 2015

A beautiful place for walking, biking, or just relaxing.

On May 14, 2015, my son and I hiked on this great 10-mile Metro-accessible trail. Starting from Rosslyn, we hiked west along the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail between the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Potomac River. This is a very rugged but well marked trail that offers great views of both the River and numerous waterfalls created by the many small streams. Lots of wildlife too! We then crossed the Chain Bridge, hiked east along the C&O Canal Towpath, and stopped for lunch at Fletcher's Boat House. We finished our journey by crossing the Key Bridge back to where we started in Rosslyn less than six hours ago. A fantastic day!

mountain biking
Monday, November 10, 2014

Hard to beat all the dedicated biking trails in the area.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I loved the trail...walking and running..I would do it again.

road biking
Sunday, November 06, 2011

Even though I selected road biking related to the paved portion of the main trail, this area is also great for mountain bikers as well as hikers. There are plenty of side dirt trails that wind their way through the wooded park. You will see plenty of wild life like deer and beaver, even though the trail runs through neighborhoods from DC to northern Montgomery county Maryland. That being said, a word of caution. As with any outdoor activity that involves traversing secluded areas, you should never go alone. Take a friend with you. Take your phone and carry something to defend yourself because it it better to be safe than sorry. There have been reports of lone runners and hikers being attacked and abducted on the trail so, stay alert.

We started the trail going south from the parking lot, hiking the C&O tow path toward Virginia, once we crossed the potomac into Virginia there was no sign of a trail, and we couldn't find the blue blazes anywhere. We started working along the water line for about a mile or so until we have reached a dead end and had to turn around and walk back.

The trail is nice, but it's not marked at all on the Virginia side.

road biking
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's great for biking! But it's a bit hilly, so many bikers choose to use the road along it instead, which makes driving on that road difficult sometimes.

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