Explore the most popular trail running trails near Washington with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Great hike, but it is more moderate than easy. The trail was also had to follow since it was comprised of a couple of other trails.

has some nice swamp areas and birding but the traffic noise is a bit of a distraction

Definately worth the trip. Much more crowded than I would prefer, but what I expected.

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.

Nice oasis in the city with actual trails to run. Wasn’t too busy for a weekday evening.

Really great and less frequently traveled trail. Going over the bridge gives you a great view of the Potomac and there is a statute of Teddy Roosevelt on the island. Very easy hike, gets muddy after rain however. You can go swimming at certain points but take caution; it's swim at your own risk.

1 month 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.

Good urban escape

Good for a day's workout. Trail has good tree cover and stays cooler.

I thought this place was cool! Some people were playing in the fountains that weren’t running... so that was freaking weird- but overall a really good place to take my dog on a walk and let her swim a bit. Super easy place to walk around. Probably one of the lesser known places to go in the area, there’s a huge statue of Teddy Roosevelt people liked to take pictures with. I’ll definitely head back soon.

Nice hike. Great for a nice morning hike.

Airplanes frequent overhead creating a lot of noise. It’s very slippery and muddy after big rains.
Great for bird watching. Lots of Redwings and mallards.

Teddy Roosevelt Island houses one of the lesser-known monuments and is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life without ever leaving the city. This is an extremely easy, flat, paved path with a few through-trails in-between the major loop. Experienced hikers who are looking for a challenge would find this trail boring, whereas tourists looking for some relief or those looking for a leisurely stroll would love this area. It is fairly deserted during regular business hours, but can get busy on the weekend.

hiking
2 months ago

Every time I visit DC, I always find something new while walking around the National Mall.

It's most beautiful when the cherry blossoms are out, but the crowds are intense.

Walked about the Theodore Roosevelt Island bridge entrance, my first time really exploring this area. The bridge over to the Island was closed today as a public safety precaution due to recent flooding in this area. My plan was to run around the island before running Martha Custis, but since I couldn't I just walked about taking pictures.

This is a pretty cool spot, and is also the location where you park for the Martha Custis Trail. The place was already swarming with people on a Sunday at about 10:30, so I advise doing things early, like 5-6 am on weekend visits. I will be returning.

Great way to respect a president who loved the outdoors! nice and quiet island, hike it to escape the craziness of DC, plus lots of wildlife

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.

Awesome!! Went with the kids and had tons of fun. Beautiful trail!

4 months ago

Easy walk through the cherry blossoms and fishermen trying for catfish.

hiking
4 months ago

This is a great hike right in the downtown DC area. You can combine it with the eastern side to make it a nice loop vice an out and back. Interesting bits of history at signs and markers along the way.

Great hike this time of year. When I do this hike again, I will try to hike it when there are fewer people.

Love the hill at the end. Great hike! Beautiful walk by the creek.

Not well marked at all, with lots of smaller branching trails. Overall, a good trail but poorly marked.

hiking
5 months ago

My HQ for 30 years was pretty close to the Washington Monument... Glad i'm retired!

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