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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