The hike to Mary's Rock follows the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park. It's just over three-miles round trip yet manages to get the heart pumping, offers expansive views, and is pet-friendly. Mary's Rock is an extremely popular hike, especially on a beautiful day.
Located right outside of DC on the G.W. Parkway and two-miles of flat wooded path and boardwalk over swamps, Roosevelt Island is a good option for a quick after work hike on a weekday or leisurely stroll on the weekend. Glimpses of iconic buildings are a bonus!
The Mountain Loop trail on Sugarloaf Mountain (only 40 minutes outside of D.C.) is a great close-to-home hike. The uphills are only short bursts across six miles with a spectacular view of the valley at White Rocks. And you can stop for a post-hike drink at the Sugarloaf Mountain vineyard.
West Side Trail
The West Side Trail at the National Arboretum might not jump out by name but you’ll know it by the National Capitol Columns, one of the most photographed places in D.C.! Fret not if you’re not into crowds, the trail quickly veers away from this spot and becomes a serene and peaceful walk.
Little Schloss in the George Washington National Forest is the sister hike to the more famous Big Schloss. Probably with reason… unlike Big Schloss, this one is a climb all the way to the top. On a fall day with foliage colors popping, all that work to a nearly empty summit is beyond worthwhile!
Within reasonable driving distance from D.C., the hike to Annapolis Rocks on the Appalachian Trail is a popular hike. My legs and my lungs usually feel the first two miles of uphill and then enjoy the level trail. The viewpoint, especially when there are bear sightings, is totally worth the early huffing and puffing.
#OptOutside in grief and gratitude
My adventures were close to home in 2020. I cherished every moment I spent outside and fell more in love with nature. I spent the year discovering all the local outdoor gems, taking walks in my neighborhood parks, hiking in state parks, and simply appreciating slow movements all these close to home places offer.
Arches National Park
The naturally forming rocks at Arches National Park makes this a memorable place to visit. Because the trails in Arches are short, I was able to combine several hikes into a day, experience much of the park in two days, still not feel exhausted, and visit the three other National Parks nearby.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park gives new meaning to wilderness and was the place I most anticipated experiencing on my road trip. Unfortunately, the wildfires of 2018 interrupted my plans for a three-day adventure. I still managed to see some of the beauty of this magical place - Grinnell Glacier, Going-to-the-Sun Road, Logan Pass, and countless wildlife!