Hiking in the Great Outdoors is one of the simplest pleasures anyone can enjoy. A hike doesn’t need to be a strenuous activity; there’s just as many leisurely paths as there are challenging climbs. Whether you’d like to amble along the banks of the Potomac on the Billy Goat Trail, or hike up the steep sides of Old Rag, there are plenty of options in the D.C. area to go for a hike.
However, getting out to the hike can be a strenuous activity in and of itself. After covering some hikes with picturesque views of the Great Outdoors, we feel it’s important to also bring up some spots that might be a little easier to get to. All of the following hiking locations are close to public transportation, which means they are all accessible without a car.
#UnitedOutside content has been done in collaboration with our friends at REI
Capital Crescent Trail
Circulator to Georgetown, Wisconsin Avenue and K Street stop
Years ago, the plan was to build a canal that would connect the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River, and allowing trade to move faster on the East coast of the United States. However, due to a number of setbacks, the canal only got as far North as Cumberland, Maryland. What we’re left with, about 200 years later, is a beautiful hiking trail, running along the same path mules would use to pull canal boats. With the canal on one side, and the Potomac on the other, the Capital Crescent Trail is a one of the prettiest, and most easily accessed hiking spots in town. From the Georgetown entrance, keep an eye out for the patch of woods between the trail and the river. There’s deer down there.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
Blue/Orange Line to Rosslyn Metro, 0.6-mile walk from Metro
Lincoln gets a Greek temple, Washington gets an Egyptian obelisk, and Teddy Roosevelt gets his own island. On the Potomac, just West of Georgetown, is an 88-acre National Park, dedicated to America’s first conservationist President, Theodore Roosevelt. There are some clearly defined trails and gravel paths through the untouched woods, an elevated walkway through a marsh, and a couple back-paths in the woods, just behind the monument. Keep an eye out for deer, snakes, herons, and turtles while you hike.
Rock Creek Park
Multiple entry points, all over NW DC
Beach Drive is closed off to traffic for the next several months, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Rock Creek Park is accessible from as far North as 16th Street Heights, as far South as the National Zoo, with about a hundred entry points on either side. The park features miles of trails, picnic areas, historical sites, and even the stones pulled from the eastern portico of the renovated United States Capitol Building.
Burnt Mills Reservoir and Northwest Branch Trail
Red Line to Silver Spring Metro, Z2 or Z8 Metrobus 17 stops to Colesville Road and WSSC Dam
Silver Spring began as a relatively quiet suburb of Washington DC, and continued to grow and develop into the burgeoning cadre of neighborhoods it is today. There are, however, some spots that haven’t been bought up and razed by developers. The Burnt Mills Reservoir is one such lucky spot. The Northwest Branch Trail, which passes through the Burnt Mills Reservoir, is a series of paths and trails that go alongside the tributary of the Anacostia River. It’s an easy hike to do alone, but much better with friends.
Green Line to Deanwood Metro, R12 Metrobus 10 stops to Edmonston Road & Breezewood Drive
Would it surprise you at all to know that camping can be done with little more than a hop, skip, and jump away from DC’s center? Greenbelt Park, maintained by the National Park Service, features a full-service campground, along with a couple trails and picnic areas. While the terrain isn’t terribly exciting, and it’s not far enough away from the city to go stargazing, Greenbelt Park is the perfect spot to go camping without a car. The next morning, you could roll up your tent, put out the campfire, head back to the bus, back to DC, and make it to Roosevelt’s old haunt, Old Ebbitt Grill for brunch. Teddy would be proud. You’ve earned those oysters.