When you think of our nation's capital, you probably think more of an urban metropolis than of forest trails and nature preserves. The District of Columbia area is home to several lush nature trails that provide stark contrast to the city. Some trails are popular and enjoyed by hundreds of people daily, while others are more secluded. These trails are visited by both exercise-seekers and people who just want a break from city life.
Capital Crescent Trail
The Capital Crescent Trail runs from Georgetown in the District to Bethesda, Maryland. Dubbed as a "rail-trail," the Capital Crescent Trail is built on an abandoned rail bed on the 11-mile stretch of the Georgetown branch of the B&O; Railroad. The CCT encompasses four bridges and two tunnels with gradients and grade-separated roadway crossings. This trail runs the gamut of activity, used by bikers, joggers, power-walkers and parents on an afternoon stroll with their kids.
Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park features over 25 miles of walking trails. The main section of the park is approximately 2.75 square miles along the Rock Creek Valley. The park is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service and is one of America's oldest national parks. Its equestrian trails run next to the creek as well as past the National Zoo, and the park district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Nine miles of paved pathways and dirt trails make up the bulk of the Glover-Archibold Trail, making it an idea trail for serene nature walks and intense jogging sessions. The trail goes north to Friendship Heights, east to Rock Creek Park and south to Georgetown. It is usually not as busy as other trails, giving it an isolated feel that welcomes long walks. Also, the trail's location and abundance of shade make it a source of cool air on especially humid summer days.
Mount Vernon Trail
Many of the Washington area's famous landmarks, such as the Washington Monument, are in prominent view from the Mount Vernon Trail, located across the Potomac River from downtown D.C. The Mount Vernon Trail stretches for nearly 18 miles as it follows the Potomac's Virginia shoreline all the way from Theodore Roosevelt Island to Mount Vernon. Visitors on the trail also encounter landmarks such as George Washington's home at Mount Vernon.
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