Editor’s note: We’re making every effort to provide you with the most up-to-date information. However, there are widespread closures to help flatten the curve and slow the spread of Covid-19. We’re doing our best to keep all of our stories and calendar up to date. Please note that most park facilities are closed including parking lots, restrooms, visitor centers playgrounds, athletic fields and historic sites. Before visiting any park, be sure to check the park’s website for the latest closures and conditions. Stay safe!
The next time you want to tell your kids to take a hike, remember that they can! The DC area has plenty of trails still open where you can enjoy nature while social-distancing.The following places offer stroller-friendly ways for you to log some steps on the ol’ Fitbit while escaping the confines of your home.
photo: Catdonmit via Flickr
Mount Vernon Trail
This 18 mile trail stretches from George Washington’s home to Theodore Roosevelt Island. Skip the trail nearest to the island; it’s paved in dirt, mud and rocks and isn’t suitable for strollers. Instead, opt for he section of the trail that winds through Old Town Alexandria by way of the waterfront; it’s a low-impact walk with scenic views. You’ll find a more rigorous walk as you near Mount Vernon, where you will encounter some hills.
Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
This path runs along both sides of the river with over 15 miles of trails to explore (most follow the water). There are plenty of places to explore along this route, but the newest section of the path — which traverses Kenilworth Gardens – might be one of the prettiest sections. Not far from the gardens, you’ll find the three miles running through Anacostia Park, This area is well paved and easy to explore.
On the southern tip of East Potomac Park, a man-made island in the Potomac, you will find a 4 mile trek along the waterfront. This is a flat, easy paved trail. You can find a trail map here for points of interest.
Bethesda Trolley Trail
This paved pathway was originally used by the Rockville Railway streetcar line. It’s a 4 mile quite, wooded path that has some inclines and elevation; perfect for those looking to challenge themselves on a strenuous walk or jog. The trail starts between Woodglen Drive and Edson Lane in North Bethesda and ends on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
Escape the traffic and noise of the city while in the city. This 88.5-acre island dedicated to the 26th U.S. president has easy trails you can follow to the paved Memorial Plaza, where an enormous statue of the president greets visitors. For a more ambitious undertaking, hop onto the 18-mile, paved Mount Vernon Trail, which stretches from the island to Mount Vernon, President George Washington’s home.
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
This National Historical Park covers 184.5 miles, some of which passes through some pretty picturesque parts of DC. The Georgetown towpath is flat and great for an easy walk or jog with a stroller.
OK, so this is still the C&O Canal, but the views are drastically different, so we are counting it twice. For strollers, stick to the wide gravel paths, but for anyone with a hankering for something more adventurous, the Billy Goat Trail has challenging rock climbs and breathtaking waterfall views.
Potomac Heritage Trail
If Great Falls feels like too much, head a few miles away to this 2.5-mile stroller-friendly trail at Riverbend Park. It’s a nationally recognized scenic trail that follows the Potomac, so keep those cameras ready.
Burke Lake Park
This park in Fairfax County was almost an airport, but neighbors fought that plan. Today, the park is home to a 4.7-mile flat trail that can be bumpy at times but easily accommodates a stroller.
Locust Grove Nature Center
The 1.4-mile trail is jogging stroller-friendly and passes the Cabin John Creek, a meadow and an 80-year-old sycamore tree. Watch for butterflies in the summer, box turtles in the early morning and bats in the late afternoon. The trail begins and ends at the nature center (please note: the nature center is currently closed).
Woodend Nature Sanctuary
This 40-acre outdoor wonderland is the Audubon Naturalist Society’s headquarters. Currently you can only visit the 1.1-mile trail loop, but when historic sites reopen this one is worth a visit; the Woodend Mansion was designed by the same architect who did the Jefferson Memorial and National Gallery of Art.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
Stroll the paved trails that wind through this park’s 95 acres. Stop to check out the koi pond and the Korean Bell Garden, a handmade structure that houses a bell made in South Korea. The path is hilly, which will keep it interesting for the little ones and a workout for the grown-ups.
—Meghan Meyers and Stephanie Kanowitz