Explore the most popular Views 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.

walking
1 day ago

Don’t get me wrong, Georgetown is gorgeous and a great place to shop and eat. A little further out and it’s a quiet place full of beautiful old homes, hills, elegant embassies, etc. It’s a nice walk for sure - though I’m embarrassed to say I once just decided to wander around there for a while because I was bored and wanted to get out of the house and got pretty turned around... ended up at the edge of a wooded area on an empty road with no sidewalk that looked like the back of someone’s property. This was before Lyft took off. So keep an eye on your map because wealthy neighborhoods like Georgetown outside the shopping district, Foxhall, etc. usually aren’t catered to people who don’t live there (hence the irritating lack of transit). If you do, you’ll be treated to a very pleasant stroll, especially if you’re into the architecture of residential homes.

It’s one of those things you have to do at some point - and I recommend doing it either early or late to avoid as many tourists as possible. Keep in mind, if you’re visiting in summer, it is HOT and HUMID and there’s not a ton of shade when you’re out in the middle of the Mall. It’s also a much longer walk than it looks like it is on the map (at least, it can feel that way). If you want to do the whole walk in one go, the Smithsonian museums afford a break from the heat, opportunities to use the restroom, and places to grab a quick bite and drink (and, you know, culture and interesting exhibits but I’m focusing on the walk). The larger monuments like the Lincoln, Jefferson, and FDR also have small exhibit spaces, gift shops, and bathrooms but can sometimes be hard for tourists to find - generally look for alcoves and old copper doors. They’re usually unassuming off-season and are closed but as far as I know are open late (I see joggers stop for a quick bathroom break in them after dark frequently). Easily the highlights of this walk are the memorials around the Tidal Basin, which is a beautiful place to be - especially when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, of course! EDIT: Oh, I didn’t even realize the trail went all the way to the Capitol! Also has a visitors center if you need to use the restroom (and a cafeteria - no, not the cafeteria your representatives eat in, unfortunately, unless you’re a very special guest, heh). Not worth the lines and security unless you’re going to enjoy a tour - and see if you can get a House or Senate viewing gallery pass from your representative or senators (you get to pick it up directly from their office and might catch a glimpse of some people you see on the news in the elevator) and even if it’s a slow day (or a slooooooow day) it’s still civically interesting to see your legislature in action... or at least, what congress considers action, haha).

This is one of my favorite underrated places to relax and explore - there are trails winding around the centerpiece of the island (a small plaza and statue dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt) but its small size allows for enjoyable little treks off trail into the “wilderness” without any fear of getting lost. One side affords a close up view of the Watergate and DC waterfront, and the Key Bridge is also a nice sight to enjoy. There are no fences stopping you from going right up and wading into the Potomac (as I recall) if you somehow want to. There’s a parking lot on the Arlington side of the island where the one bridge entrance is which makes this super convenient, although it’s also very accessible by Metro (I took the Orange Line to Rosslyn and walked - and given how many times I was nearly run over it’s also a popular place to cycle to, I suppose). The only major downside is that park facilities are closed in the off-season - and that includes any bathrooms. The off-season is of course nicer due to the fewer people and there’s a certain sparse beauty in the rows of stick thin trees that haven’t yet come back to life for the spring.

I take my dog here for a nice walk all the time. I live in the city so it’s a nice little trail to walk on the weekend. Easy walk and cool views looking back into DC from the island.

I take my dog here for a nice walk all the time. I live in the city so it’s a nice little trail to walk on the weekend. Easy walk and cool views looking back into DC from the island.

Ran inner & outer loops. Partial dirt and wooden trails, good on the knees.

Very pretty, relaxing, easy walk. But very busy. Walkers, bikers, dogs, families.

hiking
off trail
18 days ago

road biking
off trail
19 days ago

ParkRun 5K this morning

hiking
over grown
20 days ago

There is broken glass everywhere on Heritage Island. The path disappears halfway around.

The trail has some high and low points. It was not easy to follow. We started by crossing the Francis Scott Key Bridge and walking the north part of the loop on the towpath, Not sure if there was a different path we were supposed to be on, but this seemed right. Very flat and paved, lots of bikes. We crossed the Chain Bridge, which was not at all marked on the towpath but we found a small path to get us there. From that point we were on more of a trail with lots of fun rock scrambles. However, again it was not well marked and we lost our way a couple times. This side it is very poorly maintained and overgrown. We even had to walk along the GW Parkway for a little bit, very strange. At the end there was a sign the path was closed, but never saw a sign indicating that from the other direction. Was and adventure, of sorts. I will not be doing this one again.

Trails not marked so confusing when not on streets

Sat morning free Park Run. Come and join us

hiking
1 month ago

Did this with the family. It was busy, as is to be expected. It was cloudy and there was a cooling breeze. Got off course a couple of times to check things out and play the tourist.

road biking
1 month ago

After all the great reviews, I was disappointed in this one for road biking. This trail is in lackluster and rough condition. There are numerous areas where tree roots have buckled the asphalt, and there is one deep depression that would wreak havoc on a road bike tire. I would recommend at least 32 mm wide tires. That puts you in hybrid territory, and one could make the argument a mountain bike would be even better. The trail is one-bike wide in several spots, and there are a few tunnels, bridges and other segments for which one needs to dismount to navigate safely. This is especially true since the trail was heavily trafficked on this Saturday. Compared to trails farther outside the city, pedestrians walk two or three wide here, and some seem to hesitate--or simply refuse--to yield. FYI, parking at the trailhead is about $2.50/hr.--if you can find a space. I guess this is a nice escape for some who live in the city, but it's not worth the trip from elsewhere.

ParkRun 5K. Big group running this weekend

mountain biking
blowdown
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

It was in the 90’s throughout the walk, but very enjoyable with a nice breeze and great scenery. Fun walk!

Great trail. At times a touch hard to follow maps and definitely more moderate than easy in places. Will add this to the regular rotation. Loved it!

Haven’t been out here in over ten years, still an awesome spot to enjoy the outdoors. Plenty of history, wildlife and trees. I saw lots of paw paw trees some fruiting should be ready to pick around October. While I was out there a thunderstorm swept through the area and turned most of the trail into streams, I had an umbrella and still had a great time.

hiking
2 months ago

What a surprise at times you forget how close to DC you are. We started in Georgetown going up Rock Creek. we had the map downloaded and linked to GPS. It helps at times. very good trail.

hiking
2 months ago

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