Arlington, Virginia was voted 2018’s “Fittest City in America” by the American Fitness Index – and D.C. remains on the top of that list. In fact, we’re willing to bet that if you’re a Washingtonian reading this right now, you probably have a FitBit on your wrist. It’s really no wonder when you consider all the city and its surroundings have to offer. D.C. is both home to, and surrounded by, hundreds of miles of mountainous glory for hiking and outdoor adventures. From well known trails in Rock Creek Park, to the hills of Great Falls, there are some amazing hikes that will invite you to become one with nature and forget all about your Monday deadline.
Scroll down for our list of top trails that will have you lacing up your hiking boots and heading for the hills in no time. Believe it or not, there’s more greenery out there than you’ll find at your neighborhood dog park.
Spanning 16 miles and 6,000 acres from Gaithersburg to the Potomac River, this natural surface trail offers phenomenal views of Great Seneca Creek, and even includes a natural rock bridge. Pack a picnic and bring your dog for a great afternoon of wandering.
The island is home to a memorial statue of our nation’s 26th president and plenty of deer, eagles, and squirrels. Let’s be honest, the hikes really aren’t that difficult. So head here if you don’t want to break a bad sweat. You can conquer the three short Swamp, Woods, and Upland trails in an afternoon.
Connecting the Potomac and upper Ohio river basins, the Potomac Heritage Trail follows the same paths George Washington explored! Bike, Run, gallop, or paddle along the picturesque landscapes that will leave you wanting more.
Located smack dab in the center of D.C. is heavenly Rock Creek Park. It boasts 32 miles of looping trails, one favorite being the 4.3-mile Western Ridge Trail. The park offers fun for all ages and skill levels too. Kids can even enjoy free, ranger-led astronomy programs in the on-site planetarium.
Hit up “Old Rag” for a weekend hike that will test your limits. It’s one of Shenandoah’s premier destinations, and also one of its most dangerous due to the steep climbs along a beautiful granite boulders and shimmy-ing you’ll be doing through crevices. The most popular hiking circuit takes you up the Ridge Trail, across the rock scramble to the summit, and down the Saddle Trail. From the top, you can Instagram nearly 200,000 protected acres of national park land.
The 11-mile Capital Crescent Trail is one of the most popular excursions the District has to offer. It is a shared-use off-road trail that runs from Silver Spring, MD to the heart of historic Georgetown, D.C. It’s not uncommon to see bikers, joggers, walkers, roller-bladers, and awkward segway riders on this trail. If your finish line is the Georgetown entrance, be sure to grab a cupcake to go.
Fairfax Station, VA
If you’re looking for a stunning hike as the backdrop of your romantic outing, this trail comes highly recommended. Spanning 2,000 acres of rugged vistas, this destination is great for people of all skill levels. Shared-use hiking and equestrian trails crawl across the landscape, and you can spend an entire afternoon making your way through the scenic 8.6-mile Fountainhead Regional Park Trail.
It’s difficult to fathom how beautiful waterfalls and river rapids can be found just a short drive away from D.C. The park includes 15 miles of hiking trails, including the popular 7.8 mile Billy Goat Trail on the Maryland side, which starts and finishes in the C&O Canal.
Just a 45-minute drive from D.C., and you’ll feel transported into the wilderness. The seven-mile Yellow Trail loops around the base of the mountain, and is surrounded by forest on all sides. Sugarloaf has been designated as a Registered Natural Landmark due to its geological interest and striking beauty.
Harpers Ferry, WV
History buffs love this place! One final must-see hike is Maryland Heights, a five-mile circuit with spectacular views of the town of Harpers Ferry. The location is steeped in Civil War history and the main ride still has the ruins of Union Civil War forts, trenches, and infantry encampments.