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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ten Great Places to Hike Around DC by Public Transportation (and counting)

Two of the things we love best about living in the DC metro area are the public transportation system, and the parks. And so, one of our main topics on the Natural Capital has been combining the two: how to get to our favorite parks in the DC area without a car. Turns out there are a lot of options.The links in this post go to our write-ups of each park and how to get there.
  1. The National Arboretum: a riot of azaleas in the spring, fields of wildflowers in the summer, and the lovely Fern Valley are our favorite spots. You'll also find a bonsai collection, a youth garden where local kids have their own plots, a grove consisting of the official trees of every state, waterfront along the Anacostia River…all by taking the B2 bus from Stadium Armory.
  2. Rock Creek Park is another treasure in the heart of DC, especially when Beach drive is closed on the weekend. Our post includes 10 points of entry by public transportation, from the Potomac waterfront all the way up to the DC/Maryland border.
  3. The Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River is followed by a trail through Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, with something for everyone: the northern part is rocky and hilly, but further south it's an easy, paved trail. There are several ways to get there by bus and Metro.
  4. The C&O Canal is a 184.5 mile-long canal that was built to transport goods from Georgetown to Cumberland, MD. The towpath – and green space on both sides of the canal – make it a great place to explore. You can get to a few places in the first 4 miles of the trail by public transportation; after that, you'll have to bike if you want to stay car-free.
  5. Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is at its peak in July and August, when the water lilies and water lotuses are blooming. But it also has a lovely stretch of marsh on the Anacostia River that you can visit year-round. The park is less than a mile from Deanwood Metro.
  6. Greenbelt Park offers a chance not just to hike and bike (with over 8 miles of trails), but you can also  camp there. And it's less than a mile from the College Park Metro.
  7. Roosevelt Island, in the middle of the Potomac, is a surprisingly diverse oasis not far from the intensely urban settings of Rosslyn and Georgetown: the island includes woods and a tidal freshwater marsh. The entrance is less than a mile from Rosslyn Metro.
  8. Lake Artemesia is 38-acre lake that was created during construction of Metro, appropriately enough. You'll find a 2 mile trail around the lake, connecting to the trails that follow the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia. It's not far from College Park Metro.
  9. Glover-Archbold Park is another green oasis in the middle of the city -- a long, narrow park that follows Foundry Branch from Van Ness Street in Tenleytown to Canal Road, just west of Georgetown University. Buses cross the park at several points, giving several different options for getting there.
  10. Huntley Meadows is 1,425 acre park of wetlands, meadows, and forest just south of the Beltway in Fairfax County. You can get there by bus from Huntington Avenue Metro.
  11. Wheaton Regional Park is one of the largest parks in Montgomery County, and probably the most diverse in recreational opportunities with playgrounds, an ice skating rink, stables, and the beautiful Brookside Gardens. In the middle of it all are wooded hiking trails and a great little nature center. It's about a mile from Glenmont Metro, and buses can get you even closer.
We'll continue adding links to this post as we cover more car-free hiking spots in the DC area -- there are more to come. If you know of a place we should write about, please drop us a line in the comments. Thanks!

Like the photos in this post? Mouse over for credits; a click takes you to the photographer on Flickr.