7 Fall Hikes Near DC


Fall is a great time of year to get out for a hike.  Relishing the cooler air, moving through crisp leaves, and finding time to realign life are just a few of the many reasons to get moving outdoors.  Here are 7 of our favorite fall hikes in the DC area.  Hope to see you on the trail!

1. Burke Lake

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4.7 miles on a relatively flat trail, complete with fitness equipment.  The trail is about 90% is shaded and wide enough for bikers, hikers, and trail runners to all share space.  Easy enough for kids to join you – plus, you can enjoy the kids’ playground at the end or beginning of your hike.  Burke Lake park also offers mini golf, miniature train, carousel, and a disc golf course.  Free to Fairfax County residents; $10/car on weekends and holidays for non-residents.

2. Great Falls/Billy Goat Trail (Section A)

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Great views, fun rock scrambling, and the challenge of a 50 foot rock wall (left photo).  This is the perfect post-Thanksgiving hike to burn off calories.  As you can see from the rock wall, it’s a popular trail (photo taken day after Thanksgiving).

3. Maryland Heights Trail

Make this an out and back trip to the lookout, or add a longer loop through Civil War era fields.  Steep for much of the hike.  The 1,600 feet of elevation gain over a short distance makes this a great trail to take a heavy pack when training for a big mountain.

4.  Melvin Hazen Trail

Melvin Hazen is a blissful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, complete with several fun stream crossings.  A great trail when you’re looking to commune with nature while staying within walking distance of public transportation.  You can access the trail right off Connecticut Avenue in Northwest Washington between the Cleveland Park and Van Ness metro stations.  At the end, is an open park area with plenty of space to have a picnic, toss a frisbee, or kick around a soccer ball.  This trail is popular among trail runners and dog owners, accompanied by their canine companion.  Connect this trail with the Soapstone trail to add miles onto your hike and continue the stream crossing fun.


5. Old Rag

Want to play on rocks?  Old Rag’s 2,510 feet of elevation gain and 1 mile rock scramble (out of a 9 mile RT loop) is a definite highlight – – a favorite local hike, for sure.  Allow about 5 hours, including a stop at the summit for lunch.steven


6. Spruce Knob/Huckleberry Trail

Great trails and friendly people make a day trip to West Virginia’s highpoint worthwhile. Read our full summit report here.


7. Western Maryland Rail Trail

This flat 23 mile trail is great for kids who like to run ahead of you while hiking. You can make it as long, or as short as you want, but save time for a trip to Fort Frederick (1/2 mile east of Big Pool Station.)


Hope we see you on the trail!

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