Want to get outside in DC? Luckily, there are plenty of parks and trails near the city for your nature fix. DC is one of the best cities if you love to stay active. There are 30 parks in the city that are managed by the National Park Service and plenty of biking and walking trails around the city. On a nice day, you’ll see lots of people jogging, walking, and biking throughout DC.
I grew up in the DC area and spent four years living in the heart of DC. I loved exploring the various trails on nice weekend days. There are so many great hikes to add to your bucket list! You can read my guide on the best day hikes below.
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Table of Contents
Amazing Hikes Near DC
#1. Billy Goat Trail (Great Falls, MD)
If you were to ask me what are the best hikes near DC, I would say that there is none better than this one. I grew up going on this trail multiple times a year. It’s only half an hour from DC so it’s easy to get to.
The trail itself has three parts: A, B, and C. I usually do Part A, which is the most difficult part. The three parts travel along the Potomac River and there are various rock scrambles and viewpoints along the way. You’ll be blown away by the powerful falls and all of the scenery that is right outside of DC.
Length: 7.2 miles (various mileage depending on which part you do)
Distance from DC: 13 miles, 30 minutes
#2. Sugarloaf Mountain (Cumberland, MD)
You can get to the highest peak in Montgomery County, Maryland, Sugarloaf Mountain. It’s not a very high mountain, but it does provide wonderful sweeping views of the area.
There are 16 different trails to choose from in the Sugarloaf Mountain vicinity. I usually choose to do the hardest ones up to the top and make them into loop trails. You’ll love exploring the gorgeous area.
Length: Various Mileage
Difficulty: Varying difficulties
Distance from DC: 32 miles, hour drive
#3 Theodore Roosevelt Island (DC)
I love living in DC because it has plenty of wonderful parks and outdoor spaces. None is quite like Theodore Roosevelt Island. There are three trails around the island, but my favorite is the Swamp Trail. You’ll see plenty of wildlife and beautiful greenery along the path and you’ll see the statue dedicated to Roosevelt.
Once you’ve finished going around the island, you can extend it to bike, hike, or jog along the Potomac River. Make sure to show up early if you want to go there, the island is incredibly popular, so you’ll find the parking lot full on nice days.
Length: 1.5 miles (Swamp Trail)
Distance from DC: 1 mile
#4 Old Rag (Shenandoah, VA)
This is my favorite hike of all time and I had to include it even though it’s a little farther. I have a book titled “America’s Best Day Hikes” and this one is in it! Shenandoah National Park is 90 minutes from DC and it has plenty of stunning hikes with amazing views, but none compare to Old Rag.
This hike is incredibly strenuous, but has unparalleled views of Shenandoah Valley. You’ll have to make your way up rock scrambles and switchbacks to get to the top of the mountain. Once you’re there, you can spend some time resting and enjoying the scenery.
Length: 9.5 Miles
Distance from DC: 70 miles, 90 minutes
#5 Capital Crescent Trail (MD to DC)
Growing up, I loved going on the Capital Crescent Trail and seeing how far I could go. In college, I even used it to train for a Half Marathon. The trail runs from Bethesda, Maryland to DC and is great for runners, bikers, and walkers.
I grew up in Bethesda, so I used to bike the trail from there to Georgetown for the day. You’ll see various scenes along the way including suburban neighborhoods, quiet woods, the C&O canal, and bustling cityscapes. It’s a quintessential DC experience and I highly recommend it.
Length: 7 Miles
Distance from DC: 0 or 7 depending where you start!
Was this guide to the best hikes near DC? Let me know in the comments!