Washington D.C. Local Life

Great Hikes in and Around D.C.

The weather has finally become consistently warm, and now is a great time to dust off your best walking shoes. The D.C. area is home to great hiking trails, from the famous Appalachian trail to smaller trails in local neighborhoods. The best part is many of the hikes we’re recommending can be done in a few hours, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy a nice lunch out and make it home in time for some Netflix on the couch. Check out our recommendations for great hikes in D.C. and the surrounding area.

Appalachian Trail - Maryland / Virginia

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is a classic. It snakes through parts of Maryland and Virginia with many easy and moderate portions for casual hikers to enjoy. Since these trails are a distance away, think ahead and research some places to eat near where you’ll be hiking.

Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine Trail - Triangle

Nature trail

This trail is located in Prince William Forest in Triangle, Virginia, just a short 35 miles south of D.C. Coming in at only 0.3 miles worth of hiking, this is perfect for a casual stroll with the family. If you want to make more of it, continue on the North Valley Trail, which you can take either north or south for a moderately difficult—but still not too long—hike. 

Catoctin Mountain Park - Thurmont

Catoctin Mountain Park

The trails of Catoctin Mountain Park in Thurmont, Maryland, are great if you’re looking for some variety in your hike, as well as stunning views along the way. Hikes range from easy to strenuous along the east side trails, while the west side trails tend to be quieter and feature more wildlife, according to the National Parks Service website. 

Sugarloaf Mountain - Dickerson

Photo courtesy of Sugarloaf Mountain

Known as the location of the Strong Mansion, Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, Maryland, offers a rather expansive trail system for day hikes. Try out the blue trail for excellent scenery over a distance of five miles.

Billy Goat Trail - McLean

Billy Goat Trail

The Billy Goat Trail is one of D.C.’s more popular hikes. Just shy of eight miles, this trail begins and ends at Great Falls Park in McLean, Virginia. The trails are broken down into sections A, B, and C. If you don’t want to do the entire eight mile loop, but you’re up for some fun, section A offers some challenging but enjoyable rock-hopping.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal - Georgetown

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

The C&O Canal is one of the best options for hiking in D.C. The full canal and towpath runs over 180 miles and offers interpretive trails and many of the aforementioned trails are nearby. However, the towpath through Georgetown is one of the best, easiest, and most family-friendly trails in the area. With many completely flat sections, fun historic markers along the way, and the option to ride bikes, this hike is a spur-of-the-moment option for those who don’t want to have to plan out too much.

Theodore Roosevelt Island - Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge / Arlington Memorial Bridge

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, on Roosevelt Island photo by Shutterstock

Formerly Mason’s Island until (according to the National Parks Service) it was transformed by landscape architects in the 1930s,

Theodore Roosevelt Island is a fun island west of D.C. It sits in the Potomac River, between Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge (which connects Georgetown to Rosslyn) and Arlington Memorial Bridge (which connects the National Mall with Arlington). This island offers three short trails, ranging from one-third of a mile up to one and a half.

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