Before the coronavirus crisis made social distancing a priority, local hiking trails were already go-to spots for respite from city crowds. Conveniently, Washingtonian has previously explored the area’s peaks and panoramas. We can’t guarantee these spots will be empty, so be prepared to adapt if trails begin to fill. Here are some hiking options in DC.
Created by an act of Congress in 1890—and just the fourth national park at the time, after Yellowstone, Mackinac, and Sequoia—this District playland has 32 miles of hiking paths, including our favorite: the 3.5-mile Boulder Bridge loop, which starts at the Nature Center and runs through the woods and along the creek.
Bring binoculars and amble along the River Trail or the boardwalk, where you may see such birds as great blue herons, Canada geese, kingfishers, woodpeckers, and bluebirds. Look up to spot red-shouldered hawks soaring overhead. As you walk, you might also spot foxes, minks, or white-tailed deer.
The wooded oasis on the Potomac River offers three intersecting trails for walkers, ranging from 0.4 to 1.3 miles. The Swamp Trail ambles near the shore through placid marshes. The Upland and Woods trails cut through the middle and lead to a 21-foot statue of Theodore Roosevelt.
Over 100 species of birds call these isles home over the course of the year. Choose between the .7-mile Kingman Island Trail and the half-mile-long Heritage Island Trail; both have great river views and ring with the cheery sound of birdsong.