Washington DC Area Recreation

Washington, DC is known for politics, history, culture, great restaurants and night life, but did you know is also a great place for outdoor recreation? From the over 180 mile-long Chesapeake & Ohio Canal to the natural beauty of Rock Creek National Park to the flowing Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, the District of Columbia offers a myriad of opportunities to hike, bike, run and paddle. What cheaper, healthier way is there to have fun and de-stress? So grab a friend, get outside and get moving! For additional information on DC-area recreational opportunities and groups visit HHH Resources


 Trails / Hike / Bike / Run / Walk

  • Anacostia Park:  This park spans over 1,200 acres along the Anacostia River from Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge northward to the DC/Maryland border. It includes Langston Golf Course and River Terrace and provides recreational opportunities, natural areas, historic sites, water quality protection.
  • American Discovery Trail: A 6,800-plus mile coast-to-coast trail that runs through DelMarVa and DC on its way to the California Coast. It is not just a trail, it is an adventure.
  • Capital Crescent Trail: An 11-mile multi-use trail from Georgetown, DC to Silver Spring, MD via Bethesda, MD.  The section from Georgetown to Bethesda is paved.  Mix of urban-neighborhood-secluded trail sections, paved and unpaved.
  • Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park: Over 180 miles of level, easy-rated tow-path trail along the Potomac River from Cumberland, MD to Georgetown, DC.  Passes through Harper’s Ferry, WV. Packed, unpaved pathway with areas of loosely consolidated material and mud. (Trail Map)
  • Civil War Defenses of Washington Hiking and Biking Trail: Surrounding the nation’s capital are remnants of a complex system of Civil War fortifications built by Union forces.  Explore the rich history of our region. (Trail Map)
  • Metropolitan Branch Trail:  An urban, eight-mile trail from Silver Spring, MD to Union Station downtown Washington, DC. Great for bike commuters and those looking for a marked urban trails for event training. Paved trail or urban roadway.
  • National Arboretum: A gem in Northeast DC, this 446-acre arboreal oasis boasts 9.5 miles of roadways and trails. Established by Congress in 1927 to serve the public need for research, education, enjoyment, and conservation. Open daily 8:00AM to 5:00PM except December 25.  Free admission and parking. Water and restroom facilities. (Road/Trail Map)
  • National Mall: At the heart of DC, the National Mall and Memorial Parks is home to majestic memorials, awe-inspiring museums, timeless insights of our iconic leaders and the rich, shared history of America’s journey. (Ranger-Led Bike Tours & National Mall Map)
  • Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail: Hike, bike and water trails linking the Potomac and upper Ohio river basins following the paths explored by George Washington. (Map)
  • Rock Creek National Park: An oasis in the city, Rock Creek National Park offers dozens of miles of paved walking, earthen hiking, and bridle trails in a vast, beautiful, natural setting.  Beach Drive closed to vehicles Wise to Broadbranch Roads 7:45AM Saturdays to 7:45PM Sundays and Federal Holidays. Mix of paved and primitive trails and roadway. Water and restroom facilities every 4-6 miles when properly maintained. (Trail Map)


Paddling / Boat Rentals

  • Anacostia Water Trail: This water trail is part of the lower reaches of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail that runs through Washington, DC. (Guide)
  • Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail: To commemorate Captain John Smith’s exploration of the Chesapeake Bay, in 2007 Congress established the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. (Boater’s Guide)
  • Potomac River Water Trails:  The Potomac River is an American Heritage River with 300 miles designated a National Recreation Trail. Paddle any section to experience adventure and reflect on history, nature and health.
Fletcher’s Boathouse
4940 Canal Road, NW
Washington, DC 20007
(btwn Chain & Key bridges)
Jack’s Boathouse
3500 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
(under the Key Bridge)
Thompson Boat Center
2900 Virginia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037
(at Rock Creek Pkwy)
Anacostia Community Boathouse
1900 M Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
(near Pennsylvania Ave SE / Sousa Bridge)


Recreation Groups / Resource Allies

  • Anacostia Watershed Society: The mission of the Anacostia Watershed Society is to protect and restore the Anacostia River and its watershed communities by cleaning the water, recovering the shores, and honoring the heritage.
  • BikeWashington.org: Highlights rides and trails in the DC area; links to and rates trail terrain, traffic and scenery.
  • Canoe Cruisers Association of Greater Washington, DC: Also known as the Canoe and Kayak Club of Greater Washington, DC this organization was founded in 1956 and has over 200 members. The club’s main purpose is to unite persons interested in paddling the Potomac River Basin and adjacent watersheds.
  • C & O Canal Association: A citizens’ association working to conserve the environment and history of the C & O Canal and Potomac River Basin.
  • Potomac Appalachian Trail Club: The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, through volunteer efforts, education and advocacy, maintains and protects the Appalachian Trail and nearby lands and related facilities in the Mid-Atlantic region for the enjoyment of present and future hikers.
  • Rock Creek Conservancy: Rock Creek Conservancy (formerly Friends of Rock Creek’s Environment) is a nonprofit group working to protect and restore Rock Creek and its waters, parks, and lands.
  • Washington Area Bicyclists Association: The largest bicycle association in the DC Metro area. Their website lists area bike routes and resources.