The impending arrival of fall brings the promise of cooler temperatures and radiant foliage on the trees. Plus, fewer mosquitoes!
All of which makes it a perfect time to lace up those hiking boots and head out to explore the beautiful natural areas throughout D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Although we have plenty of urban excitement to enjoy in the DMV, you’re never far away from great opportunities to explore the sights that nature has provided us in this gorgeous region.
If you’re looking for fun destinations for a fall hike, you’ll have seemingly endless options. To get you started, here are a few of our favorite local spots.
Yes, there are amazing hiking opportunities within Washington, D.C., city limits. When you explore Rock Creek Park, you’ll feel like you’re in another world, although in reality you’re only within minutes of all the action in the nation’s most powerful city. The interconnected trail system at Rock Creek Park offers the opportunity for hours and hours (and miles and miles) of great hiking through wooded areas, bustling with wildlife. Try the Rapids Bridge and be sure to grab photos of the water pouring over the rocks that gave the park its name.
Great Falls, Virginia
Speaking of rapids, you’ll find incredible views of the Potomac River running over the rocks at Great Falls Park. You’ll find 15 miles of hiking trails running throughout the park, with plenty of options for short but memorable hikes that are perfect for any experience level. Several of the trails are also suitable for biking or horseback riding. No matter which trail you choose, you’ll get plenty of exercise, fresh air, nature and fun.
Bull Run Occuquan Trail
Fairfax Station, Virginia
The Bull Run Occuquan Trail touts itself as Northern Virginia’s longest natural surface trail. It winds through 5,000 acres of scenic woodlands with frequent waterfront views, and it’ll take you through areas that shaped our nation’s history from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. Along the way, you’ll admire centuries-old trees and have the chance to spot the full range of mid-Atlantic wildlife on the ground and in the air.
The cliffs that give Calvert Cliffs State Park its name were formed 10 to 20 million years ago along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Today, they hold the fossilized remains of prehistoric creatures, including sharks, whales and rays. As you explore the 13 miles of hiking trails throughout the park, you’ll want to make your way to the beach, where you can admire the water views and sift the sand for shark’s teeth and more. It’s a great hike for kids, and the park also offers a recycled tire playground and opportunities for fishing.
Great Falls, Maryland
On the Maryland side of Great Falls, the Billy Goat Trail offers epic views and trails that fit everyone from beginners to advanced hikers and rock climbers. It’s one of the area’s most popular — and potentially busy — trails, but if you get there early, you can still find solitude and quiet moments as you enjoy the sights at the many Potomac River overlooks. You’ll hike over the rocks and through the trees, and you’ll enjoy a perfect fall adventure.