Great Falls National Park. Courtesy of

By Kat Kaderabek 

As Fall begins to set in and the leaves start their short, but brilliant, change from green to reds, golds, browns, and yellows, now is the perfect time to be outside. 

1. Rock Creek Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations solely due to the closeness within D.C. With 32 miles of hiking trails, Rock Creek National Park is the third national park to be commissioned by the federal government. Aside from hiking, the park also features a Nature Center and Planetarium. While on a hike, one has the chance to see several colonial houses, remnants of Civil War fortifications, and working mills fed by several streams that span the park. Whether it’s hiking a set path, paving an individual course, or attending a Ranger-led program, there will always be something to do in this 1,754 acre piece of land.

2. Great Falls Park is located along the Potomac River and contains fifteen miles of hiking trails. Specifically, the Old Carriage trail allows for hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. Roughly 1.6 miles, the National Park Service classifies this trail is an easy-to-moderate path to travel. In contrast is the frankly names, Difficult Run Trail, which the park warns, “a section of this trail has washed out and is less than six inches wide in some places. There is a steep drop off down to the stream itself. Use caution while hiking.” For adventure seekers out there, this short but daring 0.7 mile trail is for you.

3. Called a “Living Memorial” by the National Parks Service, Theodore Roosevelt Island is another popular hike spot with trails spanning “wooded uplands and swampy bottomlands.” The park is open year-round from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. While the park looks all natural, it is actually a designed system. The architects of the park wants to simulate a “real forrest” and planted trees in particular spots to bring about this effect. As a result, the three park trails are entitled after the terrain architects attempted to reconstruct; the swamp trail, woods trail, and upland trail are all planned spaces that feel natural. 

4. Glover Archbold Park can be found in Northwest D.C. This rather small 183 acre park is found at the edge of Georgetown University and a subunit of Rock Creek Park. However, it is important to mention due to its harsh contrast between the city and the park. Planted directly in the middle of the city, when walking into the park one is immediately surrounded by undeveloped nature. This park is great for working men and women who enjoy running outdoors but do not enjoy commuting anywhere. 

5. Resting a few miles outside the city limits in Arlington, VA, Potomac Overlook Regional Park contains sixty-seven acres of tamed and untamed land to explore. The park even possesses an organic vegetable garden which hosts school trips and summer camps during the summer season. The park itself is very kid-friendly, hosting a variety of programs throughout the year. The trails are majority novice trails, making Potomac Overlook Regional Park a family destination. 

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