West Side Trail

After a spell of brutally cold weather when I was not motivated to go outside, a warm but windy day was a good chance to get outside and explore. Since the pandemic started, I’ve been reluctant to stray far from home so the National Arboretum, which I hadn’t visited in years, felt like just the right adventure for the day.

I strolled along the West Side Trail (2.6 miles) late in the afternoon. From the New York Avenue entrance, I drove around the first big parking lot to the National Capitol Columns where there was plenty of parking. After taking a very short walk by the columns, which was crowded and hard to social distance, I headed to the trailhead. The hike is on a paved road and begins with slight and gradual uphill.

The trail is paved so its an accessible hike and it’s also pet-friendly. I do let Sophie, my little dog, run around in the woods if the trail is empty, but she had to enjoy the Arboretum on her leash because this is a sensitive plant area and I didn’t want her to accidentally destroy any special plant species.

National Capitol Columns

Although the wild flowers that line this path in the summer had long turned in for their winter snooze, the fallen leaves and trees still made this a picturesque walk. I only crossed paths with a few people and everyone was wearing masks. The Arboretum offers an array of small and big spaces to explore – before the hike I stopped at the herb garden and after the hike I strolled along the field of state trees.

If you’re looking for a short adventure that makes you feel like you’ve escaped the city, the West Side Trail should be right up your alley!

Herb Garden

Was this trail post helpful as you explored the Arboretum? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

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