Take a hike: Local trails and area excursions

WASHINGTON – Busy sidewalks, crammed Metro cars and constant traffic jams.

Dealing with the day-to-day grind in the greater D.C. area can leave Washingtonians feeling a bit claustrophobic.

If you need a bit of fresh air, venture out to one of the area’s walking and hiking spots. The views and serene environment at these location will make it hard to believe you are just miles away from the nation’s capital.

Maryland Heights

Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

This shorter hike appeals to both nature lovers and history buffs. Take the Overlook Cliff Trail for unparalleled views of Harpers Ferry, and be sure to check out the Civil War forts and camps. Maryland Heights is located approximately 90 minutes from D.C.

Mount Vernon Trail

George Washington Memorial Parkway

This paved trail is great for hikers and bikers. It runs from George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in Virginia to the District’s Theodore Roosevelt Island. It is 18 miles long, but it also connects with other regional trails, like the Potomac Heritage Trail and Rock Creek Park. Access to the trail is in the heart of the DMV area, approximately 30 minutes from D.C.


Great Falls Park is known for its stunning views and rocky terrain. Hikers instantly forget they are only 15 minutes from the nation’s capital. (Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Blockhouse Point Conservation Park

Darnestown, Md.

The Blockhouse Point trail guide claims you’ll “walk in the steps of Union soldiers,” hiking the old Civil War military roads to sentry posts. The 630-acre park also happens to have great views of the Potomac River. This Montgomery County trail is approximately 45 minutes from D.C.

The C&O Canal

Washington, D.C.

The C&O Canal offers a flat path for walkers, bikers, runners and hikers along the Potomac River. It starts in Georgetown and winds all the way up to Cumberland, Md. Stop along the hike and enjoy the views of the river and the towns through which the trail winds.

Annapolis Rock

Black Rock Cliff, Md.

This hike is part of the Appalachian Trail. It overlooks Greenbrier Lake and Black Rock Cliff. Annapolis Rock also has a popular free campsite, but it’s run a first-come-first-serve basis. The park is approximately one hour from D.C.


Bull Run Park has more than battlefields. It also has miles of scenic trails for hikers and horseback riders. (Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Potomac Overlook Regional Park

Arlington, Va.

The North Arlington spot offers trails, gardens and a nature center for a more leisurely hiking experience. If you plan on completing a Friday afternoon hike, stick around for the park’s summer music series.

Old Rag Mountain

Shenandoah, Va.

Old Rag Mountain is one of the most popular hikes the Shenandoah National Park has to offer. But the 9-mile circuit hike is also one of the area’s most challenging. According to the park website, visitors can see 200,000 protected acres of Shenandoah National Park from the summit, some of which is federally designated wilderness. The view is stunning, but this trail is not for beginners. Old Rag is approximately two and a half hours from D.C.

Great Falls Park

Great Falls Park, Va.

Nature lovers and hikers flock to Great Falls for its stunning views and rocky terrain. The 800-acre park is located along the Potomac River and is 15 minutes from D.C.

Bull Run Park

Centreville, Va.

Bull Run Regional Park has three main trails for hikers and horse riders. The Bull Run-Occoquan Trail offers 17 miles of path, hills and streams for visitors. Those looking for shorter hikes can try the Bluebell Trail and White Trail, which are both under 3 miles. The park is approximately 40 minutes from D.C.

WTOP’s Dana Gooley and Rachel Nania contributed to this report.

Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

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