EcoTherapy: No Car Hikes in the Washington D.C. Area


No-Car Hikes in the DMV

You don’t have a car, but that won’t stop you from escaping the sounds and stress of urban sprawl. Within the Metro system are several easy-to-access hikes (and there’s always Uber and Lyft). Every autumn, Washington puts on its second prettiest face (second only to cherry blossom season), so get out on the trail, and see why we’re called “The City of Trees.”

Did you know that walking in nature is proven to increase your creativity and improve your mood? NIH studies have proven it.

Here are three of these hikes are National Parks located in the DMV, and you don’t need a car to access them. These wild places will reboot your brain, and leave a smile on your face for hours later. Try to get in a hike after work, while it stays light until 7 pm.

Rock Creek Boulder Bridge Trail

Not far from the Friendship Heights and Van Ness UDC Metro Stations you’ll find the third National Park in the park system. Luckily, this park doesn’t have any entrance fees. You can access Rock Creek Park from dozens of places including the National Zoo but to hike the Boulder Bridge Trail start at Rock Creek Nature Center. The trailhead is behind the stables. This 3.7 mile loop will challenge you in places. There are several creek crossings and a road or two, but mostly you’re in the woods. It’s truly a great escape. Pack a picnic and water.

Closest Metro Station: Van Ness UDC

Address: Rock Creek Visitor Center 5200 Glover Rd NW, Washington, DC 20015

Glover Archbold Park and the Potomac Heritage Trail

Start the Glover Archbold Park hike on Massachusetts Avenue north of Tenleytown-AU Metro Station. The urban oasis is popular with dog walkers and runners because it’s a straight out and back trail. There are a few road crossings, but mostly you’ll be deep in woods, with a creek that runs through the middle of the park. This whole area was saved from becoming a road, and you’ll love hiking the easy 4.8 miles of trail as it makes its way toward the Potomac River.

Closest Metro Station: American University/Tenleytown

Address: 1900 37th Street, NW Washington DC 20007

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Island

Many people pass by this little treasure on their way north on the George Washington Parkway. You can also get to Theodore Roosevelt Island by walking on the Mount Vernon Trail near the Rossyln Metro Station. This scenic island in the Potomac River is dedicated to our 26th President who loved the great outdoors and started our National Park system. As you traverse the perimeter of this park, you’re treated to views of parts of Washington DC including Georgetown. The 3.2 mile hike is flat and a large portion is on a boardwalk over wetlands. The park can be busy on weekends, but it’s still worth a visit anytime. Don’t miss the Teddy monuments in the center of the island.

Closest Metro Station: Rosslyn

Address: George Washington Memorial Parkway at Mount Vernon Trail


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Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.

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