WILD WALKS

You can reach wild places in the Washington area by Metro. Hike (or bike) without needing a car.
Here is one a month, suggested by the Audubon Naturalist Society:


1
Foggy Bottom-GWU
DC Blue Line/ DC Orange Line
To reach the Potomac River and Thompson Boat Center, go west (right) 1 block on I St. plaza and left 2 blocks on New Hampshire Ave. Cross Virginia Ave., turn right (NW), and walk 1 block along Virginia Ave. to Rock Creek Parkway. Rent a boat here to see Canada geese and other wildlife along the river and around Roosevelt Island, or take 30th St. north from Thompson's (by the big sundial) to the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal. The towpath leads through the heart of Georgetown and into riverside forest habitat after 0.5 mi. (The trail ends 184 miles upstream at Cumberland, Md., somewhat more than a day's hike.)

2
College Park-U of Maryland
MD Green Line
Exit the station left up escalator. Cross lot to Paint Branch Parkway. Turn right, go 0.4 mi. to Paint Branch, a tributary of the Anacostia River. Watch for eastern bluebirds, and look under logs for red-backed salamanders at the edge of the woods. Follow the paved path upstream (left) 0.5 mi. to Lake Artemesia, whose 38 acres are home to water lilies, herons, ducks, frogs, dragonflies, and some catchable fish. Downstream (right) it's about 2 miles to the colonial port of Bladensburg and the broad, tidal Anacostia River.

3
West Hyattsville
MD Green Line
Travel southeast 0.2 mi. along Jamestown Rd. to the paved trail at the intersection with Queens Chapel Rd. (Rte. 500). Turn right and follow the trail west through flower-filled meadows as the trail winds along the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River. Watch for monarch butterflies feeding and flying here on warm sunny days. Continue 0.3 mi. along the trail into a forest whose brushy edges include blackberries and other fruits favored by birds and hikers alike. A bit farther is the junction with Sligo Creek. Trails continue along both branches through fields and forests for many miles.

4
Dunn Loring -- Washington & Old Dominion Regional Park
VA Orange Line
Walk from the station 3/4 mi north to reach the W & OD trail. The former railroad bed is now a park, with a paved trail. You can make this a loop by hiking 4-1/2 mi west (left) to the East Falls Church Metro station and returning from that station. Watch for woodchucks and bluebirds, but the park is urban. Another 5 miles west will put you in pleasant patches of forest and meadow where wildflowers and butterflies abound.

5
Forest Glen
MD Red Line
Go to the end of the pedestrian tunnel and take the stairs outside the station entrance. Go east across Georgia Ave. and cross to the south side of Forest Glen Rd. Proceed 0.5 mi. down to the paved Sligo Creek Trail, which leads past a mixture of meadows, forests, and wetlands. Watch for a variety of butterflies visiting the meadow flowers and for white-tailed deer at the edge of the woods. Follow the path about 3 miles upstream (left and north) to reach Wheaton Regional Park, which features a small lake, extensive hardwood forests, Brookside Nature Center, and Brookside Gardens. Downstream it's about 6 miles to the West Hyattsville Station (MD Green line).

6
Glenmont -- Brookside Gardens
MD Red Line
The Metro station is just north of the Glenmont Center (shopping mall), making the first part of the trip an unpleasant hike. Get your orientation upon leaving the station by locating a tall water tower on the other side of Georgia Ave. That tower is to the west. Walk west, to Georgia then walk south (left) down Georgia Ave. For safety's sake, walk around (not through) the broad parking lots using the sidewalk in front of the shops. At the southeast corner of the lots, use the crosswalk and traffic signals to cross Randolph Road. To enter Wheaton Regional Park, you still must walk south and east away from the traffic, several blocks through residential neighborhoods.

Brookside Gardens, at the north edge of the Park, offers ponds, fields, and formal gardens. Nearby, see ducks, woodpeckers, deer, or wait until dusk to watch for bats and flying squirrels. After dark in the holiday season, visit the Garden's elaborate display of lights.

7
Arlington Cemetery
VA Blue Line
Exit the station toward the Lincoln Memorial. Cross the street and go east (left) 0.3 mi. (use GW Parkway crosswalks) to the paved Mount Vernon Trail, which follows the Potomac River north to Roosevelt Island and south 0.7 mi. to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove, an attractive patch of white pine, willow oak, and cottonwood trees. Visit the quiet river channel behind the grove to watch great blue herons hunting fish and painted turtles basking on the logs. This popular trail continues past the National Airport Station (VA Blue and Yellow lines) (about 3 mi. south), goes through Old Town Alexandria, then continues to Dyke Marsh, one of the areas most beautiful and vibrant wetlands.

8
Waterfront
DC Green Line
Go west (right) one block on M St., turn south (left) 0.2 mi. on 6th St. and follow the paved walkway to the Washington Channel of the Potomac River. Once polluted and lifeless, the Potomac is now a vibrant living river. Watch the fish jump, and search the skies for bald eagle, osprey, and peregrine falcon. Walk down Water St. 0.5 mi. to 9th St. Turn right and cross Maine Ave. Follow the footpath to the pedestrian walkway along the high bridge over the Channel. Or reach the walkway from the L'Enfant Plaza station (DC Green, Orange, Blue, and Yellow lines). At the far side is East Potomac Park, whose southern tip is Hains Point, 1.5 mi. from the bridge. Scan the meeting point of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers during the colder months to see a variety of gulls and waterfowl.

9
East Falls Church -- Four Mile Run Park
VA Orange Line
Head south (right) one block on Tuckahoe St. Continue on the paved path to Four Mile Run Park. Bear right at the fork just beyond the bridge crossing Van Buren St. to the interpretive trail. Tall maple and ash trees shade the creek, where cardinals and goldfinches sing from the shrubs. The paved Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail (W&OD) runs adjacent to the station's western edge.

10
Cleveland Park
DC Red Line

Exit on east side of Connecticut Ave. Travel 0.2 mi. north (right) to Melvin Hazen Park, and follow the foot trail down a wooded ravine beneath beech and oak trees more than 100 feet tall. Watch for wildflowers in spring and for the wood thrush, D.C.'s official "state" bird, throughout warmer months. Woodpeckers are common year round. This 0.5 mi. trail connects to trails in Rock Creek Park. To see exotic animals, go 0.4 mi. south on Connecticut Ave. to reach the National Zoo. The Zoo connects to Rock Creek Park, making a loop hike of about 3 miles.

11
Shady Grove
MD Red Line

Exit east from the station. Go past the parking garage to Redland Rd. Go left (NE) on Redland to the Crabb's Branch Way intersection. Two ponds are visible from the roadside. Check here for water birds, frogs, turtles, and dragonflies. Diagonally across the Redland/Crabb's Branch Way junction lies an open mix of woods and fields where white-tailed deer and foxes roam. Listen for warblers here in the spring. Go 0.3 mi. east on Redland Rd. and then right 1.5 mi. on Needwood Rd. to reach Lake Needwood and Rock Creek Regional Park, where ducks patrol the lake, woodchucks frequent the meadows, and chipmunks abound in the forest.

12
Rosslyn
VA Blue Line/VA Orange Line
Exit to Moore St. and head north (right) 1 block to 19th St., then east (right) 1 block to N. Lynn St. Follow signs north (left) 2 blocks to paved Hiker/Biker trail that leads 0.3 mi. to Theodore Roosevelt Island. Most of this 88-acre island is protected natural habitat, a tribute to the great conservationist President. Foot trails (bicycles prohibited) around the island lead through a mature floodplain forest where wildflowers and songbirds abound in spring. Island swamps and marshes are home to frogs, muskrats, and more. The Potomac Heritage Trail begins at the Roosevelt Island parking area. This foot path follows the Potomac upriver 10 mi. to the Scott's Run Nature Preserve.

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