This post contains updated info on how to reach the elusive DC highpoint. Also, we’re working with the National Park Service and the Highpointers Foundation to erect a sign for this highpoint! Things are moving forward.
One of the first long walks we ever took together was an attempt to visit DC’s highpoint. One summer afternoon, we walked to Ft. Reno, stood on what looked to be the highest spot and were happy. We had a lot to learn. A couple of years later we began thinking about things like highpoint lists and USGS markers seriously and went back. We still couldn’t find the marker. Once again we went to what looked like the highest point, and this time, since we were serious highpointers, we took a picture and posted it on Facebook. Still, it bothered us that we couldn’t find that marker.
By our third trip to Ft. Reno, we were serious. We googled the location to death, got directions from the internet, and even asked several strangers. The element of danger arose as one stranger warned us to watch out for some creepy guy lurking around the bushes. Luckily, we never saw the guy, but we were on guard.
Despite all of the local inquiries, including the grounds crew who mow that lawn and should know where it is, we still couldn’t find the USGS marker. We circled the fenced area of Fort Reno twice. No luck. In our defense, the ground was covered with leaves and there’s nothing raised above the ground to draw attention to it. Not to mention, the Fort itself is on higher ground, but evidently, it’s not a natural elevation. We must have spent an hour looking, but we couldn’t find it. We were talking about bringing in the big guns, aka having Raina’s husband program the coordinates into a fancy hiking GPS (18 320094 E / 4313484 N; WGS 84UTM for the record). But he doesn’t appreciate the urgency of being a purist highpointer, so we gave google one last try. The Highpointers Club website gave us one last clue: the marker was 19 paces due north of the old oak. This was starting to feel like a treasure hunt. We set out for one more try.
On a cool day at the end of December, we made our attempt. We walked faster than normal to Ft. Reno, climbed the hill, and counted 19 paces past the old oak. There was no marker. Swears might have been said. We searched the now leaf-free ground for a few minutes, wondering about how previous summiters of our nation’s capitol defined a pace. O’ the joy! We finally found the marker, right there on the ground and we wondered why we had never seen it before.
Thing to Know:
1) Ft. Reno is close to the Tenleytown metro stop on the Red Line.
2) To get to the highpoint, climb the hill at the corner of Chesapeake and Nebraska. Look for the biggest oak tree in the open field near the school. Do not be confused by the higher land in the background that’s fenced in. This is man-made and, therefore, NOT the highest natural point. From the oak tree, take 19 paces past the tree (for the record – a pace is a giant step).
3) The marker is much easier to find in Spring or Summer, when there are no leaves, tall grass, or snow to cover it. Even knowing where it is, snow cover makes it nearly impossible to find.
4) If you drive, metered parking is available on Chesapeake, adjacent to Fort Reno Park. However, we recommend taking metro as parking in DC can be scarce.
5) Summit Chicks is currently working with the National Park Service and the Highpointers Foundation to erect a sign and maybe a register. Stay tuned for details in 2016!
DIRECTIONS FROM METRO:
Fort Reno is a 5-10 minute walk from the metro, depending on your pace.
For a few extra steps and a view of quaint original houses, you can also take a side trip down Historic Grant Street (accessible when you turn onto NE) and pop back out near the park (take a left at the end of the road).
- From Tenleytown metro, take the East exit (Left).
- Continue straight on Albemarle (Sears and Whole Foods will be on your left) toward 40th street.
- Turn left onto Nebraska.
- The Fort Reno Park will be on your left a few blocks down at the intersection of Chesapeake and Nebraska.
- The orientation of the diagonal “Fort Reno Park” sign is how you want to proceed into the park. Look for the tall oak tree, heading toward the fenced tower.
- Walk 19 paces (giant steps) from the tree toward Nebraska in the direction of the school (see pictures below).
Happy Treasure Hunting!