Just beyond the Beltway in McLean, you can find some great, dog-friendly hiking trails in Scott’s Run Nature Preserve. The area encompasses a couple hundred acres along the Potomac River, upstream from the American Legion Memorial Bridge.
Scott’s Run features a variety of trail types, from wide, easy-to-navigate paths, to steep, rocky routes. At each entrance there’s a map showing the specific trails you can choose, but once you’re on the trails they’re not marked. Bring a smartphone with a map app so when you reach a fork in the path, you can figure out which direction you want to head.
Both the River Trail and Woodland Trail are cleared paths, good for strolling or even running with your dog, and wide enough that you can walk side-by-side with another person. Depending on the route you take, you can follow them for a mile or two. Along the River Trail, your dog can wade in shallow parts of the creek.
At the far end of the Woodland Trail, you can even explore the ruins of what was once someone’s home. All that’s left are a huge stone fireplace and a crumbling chimney, but it’s cool to imagine who lived there and what their life must have been like centuries ago.
Another tip: The first parking lot for Scott’s Run (you’ll find it after getting of the Beltway, heading west on Georgetown Pike, and passing the entrance to a neighborhood) only has room for about a dozen cars. If it’s full, keep going, and you’ll find another lot—also on the right—which is much larger.
Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is located at 7400 Georgetown Pike in McLean. For more information, call 703-759-9018.
Gwyn Donohue is the author of the blog Two Dog Tales. Head there to read about more events, activities, and news for Washington dog owners.