National Arboretum

Washington, DC 20022

National Arboretum

National Arboretum Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"The National Arboretum offers an ever changing hike of constant discovery because its fifteen special collections contain flora and fauna from around the world."

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Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Easy Day Hikes: Washington, D.C. (Falcon Guides)
Louise S. Baxter
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"The eastern side of the National Arboretum features an Asian collection, conifers, and dogwoods. In summer, pink and white crape myrtles are in full flower, and winter brings the bright red berries of holly plants. The National Arboretum has many gardens and walking paths. All are well-signed and easily followed. For this hike, start with a nice wooded walk from the visitor center past several of the arboretum’s research fields. After that, the Gotelli Dwarf and Slow-Growing Conifer Collection is a fascinating place to visit. There is no specific path, but you may wander through the trees as long as you wish. Most of these trees are about fifty years old, but because they are slow growing, they are very small. Look for the Hinoki false cypress, which is less than a foot tall. The collection contains other kinds of conifers as well—tall, thin junipers, weeping cedars, and pine trees. In summer, the crape myrtles add a touch of pink and white to the landscape."
Best Easy Day Hikes: Washington, D.C. (Falcon Guides)
Louise S. Baxter
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"This walk through the western side of the National Arboretum is especially vibrant during spring when the azaleas and daffodils are in bloom. Walk through the visitor center to the large patio that leads out to the gardens, all of which are well-marked. Visit the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum on your left. On display here are bonsai trees and plants placed in four peaceful courtyards. This is a nice quiet place to begin or end your hike. From here, head out onto Meadow Road and into the Herb Garden."
60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Washington, DC (Menasha Ridge Press)
Renee Sklarew and Rachel Cooper
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"Tucked away in northeastern Washington, the United States National Arboretum ranks among the city’s finest outdoor treasures and is this book’s most botanically diverse hiking venue. Wedged between New York Avenue and the Anacostia River, the 446-acre arboretum serves primarily as a United States Department of Agriculture horticultural research center of global renown. However, for those of us who know, it’s also a spacious and exotic recreational area that can dazzle the senses, intrigue the mind, restore the spirit, and exercise the body. Visitors can explore the mostly paved site on foot, by bike, and by car. There is also a 48-passenger open-air tram that offers a 35-minute public tour for a fee of $4 per adult and $2 for children ages 4–16 (free for children under 4). Tram rides run at noon, 1, 2, and 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays only."
Best Hikes with Kids: Washington, DC, the Beltway & Beyond (The Mountaineers Books)
Jennifer Chambers
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"The mission of the US National Arboretum, a 446-acre park operated by the US Department of Agriculture, is to research, educate, and create garden displays with a large variety of plant species to enhance the environment. The visitor center has bonsai and aquatic plant life displays that host koi. The arboretum’s azaleas, ferns, and Asian plant collections have walking paths to help visitors enjoy the plant life. Most of these paths are compact soil but some are paved. This hike visits parts of the Dogwood and Asian Gardens, both of which sit on the ridge above the Anacostia River. The Asian Garden displays plant collections from China, Japan, and Korea."

National Arboretum Trip Reports

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Trail Information

Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
4.5 to 5.0 hours
Spring to Fall
USGS: Washington East
Local Maps