Main Content

Where to go hiking in and around Washington D.C.

Destinations for hiking in and around Washington, DC

If you are a lover of the Great Outdoors with plans of moving to an area in the periphery of Washington D.C., you’ll be surprised at the vast array of trails and nature spots that surround the nation’s capital. Hiking in these mountains and parks in and around Washington D.C. is sure to satisfy your thirst for exploration, adventure, and more.

Here are some recommended places to bring out the explorer in you:

Easy hikes

National Arboretum
Total trail length: 8.2 miles
Location: Within city limits

The way to this iconic landmark is through New York Avenue. Established in 1927 as an agricultural research facility of the Department of Agriculture, it has turned into an urban park with a number of well-maintained trails where residents and visitors can take a leisurely stroll. One distinct feature of this park is the National Capitol Columns – a series of massive Corinthian columns that used to be part of the U.S. Capitol Building before the structure’s dome was installed. These columns are now found on a knoll in the Ellipse Meadow of the Arboretum.

Other recommended trails:

Moderate hikes

Whiteoak Canyon
Total trail length: 9.5 miles
Location: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

This popular section of Shenandoah National Park is best visited during autumn when the trails here are blanketed with leaves in a blaze of colors. Moreover, you get the opportunity of seeing as many as eight waterfalls throughout your hike. The trail gets steeper on the approach to the waterfalls, though. This is why hiking here is described as moderately strenuous.

Canine companions are allowed on some sections of the trail like in Whiteoak Crossing, for as long as they’re leashed. They’re not allowed on the Limberlost Trail section.

Other recommended trails:

Difficult hikes

Old Rag Mountain
Total trail length: 9.5 miles
Location: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Another trail within Shenandoah National Park that sees a huge volume of foot traffic is Old Rag Mountain. The journey to the top of Old Rag is peppered with several scrambles along steep rock faces, as well as many false summits. Once you finally reach the real summit (marked by a sign near the top that says, “Old Rag Mountain”), you’ll be rewarded with amazing 360-degree views of the entire park.

Make sure you travel light for this trip and pay the park’s entrance fee in advance. Your mobile phone’s GPS might not work here so it’s best to bring a copy of the Old Rag trail map with you.

Other recommended trails:

Loudoun Heights Trail
Billy Goat Trail
Little Devils Stairs

Venues for outdoor recreation are easily accessible when you’re living in Bethesda, MD or in other wonderful communities near our nation’s capital. Make sure to get in touch with Heller Coley Reed of Long & Foster Real Estate at 240.800.5155 or to email hellercoleyreed(at)gmail(dotted)com if you want to find out about your real estate options here.