9 best hiking trails near DC

Get outdoors for an experience near Washington DC like no other

Editorial Team

By Editorial Team

shenandoah national park elderly couple walking through trail

There are many benefits to living in the city. For example, being close to your job and having an array of leisure options available at any time. However, for the sake of your health, make sure that you take some time to get out into nature and get some fresh air. That’s when finding a trail and hiking near DC becomes important. Whether you’re looking for a trail that is close by or something that is further out and more advanced, you can find it. Below are some of the best hiking trails near DC. 

Easy hikes

If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll down some amazing paths, here are some trails in and around the DC you might consider exploring.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

Within the city, there is the opportunity to hike on Theodore Roosevelt Island. This 1.6-mile trail is an easy walk. It offers amazing views of the Potomac River, as well as quiet forest trails. There are boardwalks over some waterways and various wildlife. This trail is also dog-friendly.

Rock Creek Park

This park offers a variety of different paths, from easy to more challenging. The distance you can walk will vary based on which trail you choose. These include the Valley Trail, Pierce Mill, and Pulpit Rock. There are some historic sites within the park, including war fortifications, a working mill, and colonial houses, as well as forested trails and quiet spaces to enjoy nature.

National Arboretum

Located within the city, the National Arboretum has a variety of different paths to choose from. You can see the Capitol Columns or experience the Asian Collections. In the spring, you have the opportunity to check out the famous cherry blossoms, which is an awe-inspiring sight.

columns at national arboretum

The total length of the path is 8.2 miles, but if you’re looking for something a bit shorter, you can take the west side trail, which is only 2.6 miles long. With something different to see on each path, this is a hike that can be done on more than one occasion by hikers of any ability.

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve

Located in McLean, Virginia, this trail offers the chance to go on a tranquil waterfall hike. This path is both family and dog-friendly. At close to 2.2 miles long with only a few gradual hills and a stream crossing, it can be done by all skill levels. It’s a great way to enjoy the fresh air and take in the soothing sounds of falling water.

Moderate hikes

In addition to the easy hikes and the challenging hikes, there are also some options that exist in the middle. If you’re looking for something that’s a bit more exhilarating than an easy hike but not extremely challenging that you’re contemplating turning around, consider checking out some of these trails.

Maryland Heights Trail

sunset view of harpers ferry from maryland heights

Located in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, this path offers a great view of the area. From the lookout, you can see a Civil War fortress, as well as a view of the convergence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Three states also come together in this area – Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. The hike can either be 4.5 or 6.5 miles long, depending on which one you choose.

Sugarloaf Mountain

This mountaintop hike is located in Dickerson, Maryland. It is 5.9 miles to the summit and back. In the spring and summer, it offers amazing views of the wildflowers. Year-round, you have the opportunity to take in the mountaintops, rolling hills, and valleys. There are numerous paths to choose from on Sugarloaf, so you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy. Whether you are looking for an easy stroll or heart-pumping exercise, you can find it on one of the many hiking trails in and near D.C. There are also so many other amazing things to do in this wonderful city, you shouldn’t find yourself bored. If you’re looking for an apartment for a stay in the D.C. area, you’re in luck! Through Blueground, you’ll be able to find a fully furnished, equipped, and move-in-ready space. After a long day of exercising outdoors, and soaking up the sun, come home to recharge and refresh in your ideal apartment.

Challenging hikes

If you’re looking for something more challenging to get your heart rate pumping, then consider some of these unforgettable hiking trails below.

Old Rag

This is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Shenandoah National Park, which is in Virginia. It’s not located in the city, so getting here may require renting a car. Since this hike is incredibly popular, it can sometimes get crowded during the summer. However, it’s still well worth the trip. This path offers the most spectacular views of the park. The trail is 8.6 miles long and mostly uphill. Before heading out, make sure to have enough water and snacks.

Little Devil’s Stairs

While you’re in the Shenandoah National Park, spend time on this hiking trail. It is both fun and challenging. The path goes by streams, waterfalls, and some rocky passes. It is an incredibly difficult path at 5.3 miles long. This one is only recommended for experienced hikers.

Billy Goat Trail

There are several different paths you can take for this hike. Located in Great Falls, Maryland, at the C&O National Historical Park, the paths only range in length from 1.5 to 2 miles long, but they can be challenging. They offer great views of the Potomac River and Great Falls. There are also rock scrambles that you’ll have to navigate.

Editorial Team

Editorial Team

The Blueground editorial team covers the best things to see, do, and experience in our cities around the world.