November 20, 2017

6 Family-Friendly Hiking Trails In & Near Washington, DC

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The weather has been great here so I’ve been thinking a lot about hiking. Now that my oldest two daughters are seven and eight years old this is the perfect time to get them out on the trails. Just a few more weeks until soccer season is over and we’ll have a lot more flexibility on the weekends to get out and discover all that our trails have to offer.

If you live in the Washington, DC area or if you’re planning a visit this summer, here are six trails that are ideal for young children. Even better, they’re not too long and are easy to reach by car or by public transportation.

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens (DC): This 2.5 mile hiking trail takes you through 75 acres of freshwater tidal marshes and 45 ponds teeming with water lilies and lotuses. The best time of year to view these blooming water plants is late-May through mid-September, and early mornings are ideal. While you’re there, be sure to fill out the Junior Ranger Activity Book.

Theodore Roosevelt Island (DC): Plan to spend two to two and half hours here walking along several gentle nature trails and boardwalk, and then hiking down the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Be sure to stop for a while to check out the 17-foot-tall memorial to our 26th President that stands amongst the trees. The park is a beautiful respite beneath the tall buildings of the city.

Cosca Regional Park (Clinton, MD): This easy hike is just 1.4 miles, but be sure to build in extra time to stop by Clearwater Nature Center before you head out on the trail. It’s just off the path and it’s got hands-on exhibits, live animal displays and a butterfly garden that your kids will love. On your hike, keep your eyes open for deer, turtles and blue herons. Rent a paddleboat in the summer for extra time in the park.

Patuxent Research Refuge (Laurel, MD): There are a variety of short and simple trails that range from 0.2 miles to 1.9 miles and offer many opportunities to view wildlife and waterfowl. Before you set out on your hike, stop in the National Wildlife Visitor Center to watch an eight-minute video and check out hands-on interactive exhibits on how wildlife research has led to important discoveries.

Watkins Regional Park (Largo, MD): Here you’ll find an easy trail that’s perfect for families. It’s just 2.2 miles but you’ll want to build in some time for stops at the Watkins Nature Center and the Old Maryland Farm. Both are lots of fun with interactive exhibits and interpretive programs ideal for learning. Also, look out for the playground, a mini golf course, the Chesapeake Carousel and a miniature train.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (Tysons Corner, VA): Start your 3.8 mile hike at the visitor’s center to walk through seasonal plantings and herb gardens. You’ll find beautiful bridges, lakes and overlooks here, and keep your eyes open for a Korean Bell Garden, some funky ancestral totem poles, carved volcanic stone statues and a sculpted turtle fountain.

For more fantastic family day hikes in the Washington, DC area, be sure to check out AMC’s Best Day Hikes Near Washington, DC. Do you have any favorite hikes in DC or in your own area? Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: brooksba

Disclaimer: This post contains a link to an affiliate. However, the views and opinions expressed in this blog post are purely mine. 

Comments

  1. Busybride says:

    That’s for this list! I live nearby to most of them, and I’m going to check out the Teddy Roosevelt island tomorrow. Great post!

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