Nearby Nature: Where to Hike and Bike DC


I grew up in a small town filled with woods, so coming to the city of DC was a little jarring. Studies have also shown how important it is to be in nature, in order to refresh. I’ve discovered a few little gems of nature to remind of home, and to re-energize. Here they are:


National Botanic Gardens

Located on the National Mall, the Botanic Gardens are a great way to get a quick fix of nature, especially in the wintertime. The Gardens include the Conservatory, the National Garden, and Bartholdi Park. Within these you can find the rose garden, First Ladies Water Garden, regional garden, butterfly garden, and rain garden. The Conservatory consists of the Garden Court, The Tropics, Plant Adaptations, Garden Primeval, Hawaii, World Deserts, Medicinal Plants, Orchids, Mediterranean, Rare and Endangered Species, Southern Exposure, and the Children’s Garden. To get to the Gardens, you can take the Blue, Orange, or Silvers Lines to Federal Center SW and then it's about a nine minute walk. 


Theodore Roosevelt Island

My personal favorite, Roosevelt Island is easily accessible using the metro. From AU you take the Red Line to Metro Center, transfer to the Orange Line, and get off at Rosslyn station. From the station it is about a ten to fifteen minute walk to the bridge onto the island, situated on the Potomac River in between Virginia and DC. Serving as the location of Teddy Roosevelt’s monument, it is as close to pure wilderness as you can get in the city. There are a few trails and a boardwalk, but otherwise it is all nature. I’ve seen snakes, turtles, frogs, and many kinds of birds (including a heron!) while there.


Great Falls

Not as accessible as the others, but still an amazing place to go. The park is huge, with the main attraction being the waterfalls. There are many trails as well, and with varying levels of difficulty. It is possible to use the bus system to get to the park, but it is easiest to take an Uber or Lyft. There is also a $5 walk-in fee, but absolutely worth it.


Walk to Georgetown (Glover-Archbold Park)

The most accessible nature to American University are the trails that loop back into Tenleytown or go all the way to Georgetown. The trails are located just off of Ward Circle, by the Jewish Temple. The Georgetown trail ends right by the Georgetown Hospital and the French Embassy.


National Arboretum

The National Arboretum is an amazing place, located only 2 miles from downtown. It is a huge green field surrounded by gardens, and absolutely gorgeous. It is a little tricky to get to, so again I would recommend taking a Lyft or Uber. It is 100% worth visiting at some point, especially in the springtime.

(all images are my own)