Fresh-Air Fun

With the weather warming up, we’ve rounded up seven fun activities to do outdoors

By: Taylor St. John

The season of wonderful weather is upon us! If you’re pining for some outdoor time, take a look at this list of activities you can do in Washington and within a few hours’ drive. Put away that gym-membership card and go burn some calories in the sunshine.

Fly and Ride
If the idea of ziplining conjures images of flying through a Costa Rican rainforest, think again. Terrapin Adventures’ (8600 Foundry St., Savage; 301-725-1313) so-called chief adventure officer, Matt Baker—whose enthusiasm for the outdoors has taken him to the glaciers of New Zealand, the Serengeti, and beyond—has brought the zipline to the outskirts of Baltimore. The ride ($15) hoists you 30 feet high for a 330-foot-long flight through the trees. Looking for more of that heart-in-your-throat thrill? Terrapin runs everything from high ropes courses to geocaching to mountain biking.

Get lost without leaving the city limits with a trail ride through Rock Creek Park. The Rock Creek Park Horse Center (5100 Glover Rd., NW; 202-362-0117) is located deep in the woods and offers weekend rides throughout the day from April to October and mid-week rides at 6 pm June through August. Rides are $40 a person. Participants must be at least 12 to saddle up, and reservations should be made six to eight weeks in advance.

Get Wet
Paddle into some rapids with River Riders (408 Alstadts Hill Rd., Harpers Ferry; 800-326-7238) located on the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers in West Virginia. The experienced staff will guide you down Class I-III rapids that are perfect for beginner and intermediate rafters. The 3½-hour trips run daily at 10 and 2 March through November and range from $55 to $85 a person. Up for an added challenge? Try the two-day Paddle & Peddle Package ($84 to $94), which includes a half-day bike tour on the C&O Canal followed by a guided raft down the Shenandoah. River Riders also offers canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and mountain-biking trips.

One of the fastest-growing activities in the world of water sports, stand-up paddleboarding—or SUP—has taken hold of DC’s waterways. Valley Mill Kayak School (15101 Seneca Rd., Germantown; 301-840-7388), the first kayak school in the area to offer SUP, runs trips every Saturday and Sunday (conditions permitting) May through September. A three-hour introductory lesson ($139) takes you from learning the on-land basics to walking to the nose of your board out on the water. Hang ten! Lessons are held at three locations, all within 25 miles of DC. Call ahead for reservations.

Walk in the Woods
For those who like to get their thrills with two feet still firmly planted on solid ground, there’s always the good old-fashioned hike. Two spots only 1½ hours from DC offer both challenging terrain and spectacular views. On the Buck Hollow/Mary’s Rock trail in the Shenandoah Valley, trekkers traverse streams while ascending towards Mary’s Rock Vista to revel in sweeping valley views. At Maryland Heights in Harpers Ferry, the heart-pumping climb starts straight away, but those who persevere are rewarded early in the hike with a lookout onto the tiny town and the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.

Closer to home, Theodore Roosevelt Island offers a more relaxed loop trail accessible via the northbound lanes of George Washington Parkway. Take your time strolling over the 88.5-acre island in the Potomac or pick up the pace and run the loop. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for the occasional eagle, fox, or turkey.

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