Best Hikes with Kids Washington, DC, the Beltway and Beyond  by Jennifer Chambers

Best Hikes with Kids: Washington, DC, the Beltway & Beyond Guide Book

by Jennifer Chambers (The Mountaineers Books)
Best Hikes with Kids Washington, DC, the Beltway and Beyond  by Jennifer Chambers
Washington, DC, is known as the political capital of the world, a city inhabited by powerful people. But beyond politics, residents from all walks of life, including the first family, have incredible opportunities to participate in the metropolitan area’s rich cultural, historical, artistic, and outdoor adventures. Families can choose from a plethora of outdoor adventures, whether they drive a short distance from their home to an accessible trailhead for a hike or venture farther afield. The DC region offers outdoor enthusiasts many options: backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, whitewater rafting on the Shenandoah River, kayaking and canoeing on the Patuxent River, spelunking in the limestone caves of the Blue Ridge, rock climbing on the metamorphic walls of the Mather Gorge on the Potomac River, fishing in Chesapeake Bay, and hiking on more than a thousand miles of trails. This book is not all-inclusive but describes a potpourri of the best hikes for families in the DC region.

© 2014 Jennifer Chambers /The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Hikes with Kids: Washington, DC, the Beltway & Beyond" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 69.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 69.

This out-and-back hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT) is one of a few that provide families with spectacular views from atop a ridgeline. Your hiking destination is a large rock outcropping that hangs on the western ridge—a perfect place to bask in the warm afternoon sun. The stacked metamorphic boulders boast climbing routes with various degrees of challenge and multiple flat spots to sit on and enjoy a picnic while taking in the excellent views of the valley below, including Greenbrier Lake. The trailhead is at the western edge of the parking lot on the highway.
Myersville, MD - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 5.4
Like most parks along the Potomac River in Virginia, Balls Bluff Battlefield Park sits on a bluff overlooking the Potomac in Loudoun County. Besides being a scenic and fun place to hike, this park is full of Civil War history.
Leesburg, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
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Nestled in the rolling meadows and forests just south of the town of Leesburg, quiet and unknown Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve has 725 acres and offers 20 miles of hiker-only trails. The hike passes through sunny meadows and shady hardwood forests. The preserve is open to visitors only on weekends and offers a primitive campground available with special permission for groups.
Leesburg, VA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3.2
Mason Neck State Park covers 1825 acres of land on a Virginia peninsula into the Potomac River with Belmont Bay to the south and Gunston Cove to the north.
Lorton, VA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 1.0
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The Bearfence Trail loop offers a challenging and engaging hike with a rock scramble to 360-degree views on its ridge. On a clear day, you can see the Shenandoah peaks from north to south and east to west, in addition to the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Piedmont Plateau to the east.
Stanardsville, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
The 1.5-mile loop traverses the sidehill and ridgeline, goes around the cabin and lodge, and passes through the campground. The loop consists of at least portions of the Interpretive Maintenance, Nature, Historic, and Blue Blaze trails.
Bluemont, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
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Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge was created in 1979 by Fort Belvoir to protect the land surrounding Accotink Bay on the Potomac River. The 1360-acre refuge has 12 miles of trails and is home to Accotink Creek, marshes, ponds, and forests. It is well known for excellent birding for migratory birds and shorebirds; both bald eagles and peregrine falcons may also be observed. Beyond birds, hikers may see beavers, snakes, turtles, and frogs in the refuge.
Fort Belvoir, VA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 1.5
Berma Road and the towpath are part of the 184-mile trail system in Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. Both are located in the Great Falls region of the park. An old trolley rail bed, the Berma Road was used in the early 1900s by residents in Washington, DC, who wanted to escape to the country for respite and recreation. Today, it is a multiuse trail connecting the Cropley parking lot to three compact soil trails and the towpath along the C&O Canal via the stop gate. Berma Road is a wide, shady, and level 1.4-mile trail made of crushed stone.
Potomac, MD - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3.0
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Section A of the Billy Goat Trail is the most popular and well-known hike in Washington, DC, for good reasons. Its location on the high rocky cliffs above the Potomac River makes it very scenic. Furthermore, the landscape on both sides of the Potomac River between Great Falls and Carderock is a playscape for adults and big kids, with hiking and scrambling on the Billy Goat Trails, mountain biking on the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal Towpath, kayaking on the Potomac River, and rock climbing on the cliffs of the Mather Gorge.
Potomac, MD - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3.7
Section B of the Billy Goat Trail is one of three trails with that name that follow the Potomac River from mile marker 14 along the canal to mile 10 in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. Each of the Billy Goat Trails is accessible via the towpath; they follow the river and then loop back to the towpath. All three trails traverse the metamorphic rock that dominates this area of the riverbank as the river crosses the fall line and the land transitions from the Piedmont Plateau to the Atlantic Coastal Plain.
Potomac, MD - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.6
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Section C of the Billy Goat Trail sits in the shadows of its sister trails up the Potomac River. While Section A on Bear Island is the most popular hike in Washington, DC, Section C at Carderock offers captivating scenery in forested slopes along the river. It provides kids younger than eight an opportunity to hike and play among the metamorphic rock outcrops along the trail. You may also see rock climbers using the rock faces as a playground. The trailhead is adjacent to the large sign and restroom.
Potomac, MD - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.5
Blockhouse Point Conservation Park is 630 acres of rich upland forest along the Potomac River. This park is designated by Montgomery Parks as a “best natural area” because of the rare and threatened species it supports, the diversity of plant and animal life in the undisturbed forest, and the schist bluffs that tower over the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal.
Darnestown, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.0
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The Blue Mash Trail is located on 545 acres at the closed Oaks Land?ll in northern Montgomery County. This hiking-only trail and a separate shared-use trail surround the capped land?ll in its buffer zone. Opened in 1982, the landfill stopped receiving waste in 1997 and was capped in 2001. Because of an agreement with area residents, the Department of Public Works and Transportation and Montgomery Parks constructed a network of compact soil trails to create a green space for local residents. The easy Blue Mash Trail is best enjoyed on a blue sky day during spring when you will likely see flowers, birds, and butterflies. This hike is on a wide, mostly grass-covered loop surrounding beautiful meadows and a large bioretention pond. The trail is not blazed but is marked at the intersections and turns with signs, making for easy navigation.
Olney, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.0
The Bluebell Trail looped with the Bull Run Occoquan Trail is by far the best way to see huge patches of bluebells in the floodplains along Cub and Bull runs.
Manassas, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.0
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Bucklodge Forest Conservation Park in upper Montgomery County provides families with a quiet and peaceful hike during which you can observe forest succession and will have a chance to see deer, hawks, box turtles, wood frogs, and many species of woodpeckers.
Poolesville, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
Hemlock Overlook Regional Park is one of five regional parks along Bull Run from Interstate 66 to the Potomac River. The other four are Bull Run Regional Park (Hike 52), Bull Run Marina (not described in this book), Fountainhead (which primarily offers mountain biking, fishing, and boating), and Sandy Run (which does not have trails).
Clifton, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
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The entire Cabin John Trail, starting at the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal and ending at Goya Drive, is 9 miles. Major roads such as Democracy Boulevard bisect the trail.
Bethesda, MD - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.4
The 9-mile Cabin John Trail stretches from the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal in Cabin John Stream Valley Park to Goya Boulevard in Rockville.
Bethesda, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
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Calvert Cliffs State Park is a unique place in southern Maryland, known for its shoreline cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay where you and your kids can pretend to be archaeologists and search for fossils.
Lusby, MD - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3.6
Patapsco Valley State Park is just outside the Baltimore beltway of Interstate 695. Maryland’s oldest park, it was established in 1907 by a newly created State Board of Forestry that received a gift of 43 acres of land from a wealthy Catonsville businessman.
Elkridge, MD - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.2
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