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.
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.
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.
The famous overhang of McAfee Knob is the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail. The short length of the trail, just under 4 miles, also makes it an extremely popular day hike! It’s also easy to make this a picturesque backpacking trip by starting at Dragon’s Tooth and ending at Tinker Cliffs.