Visit the 1754-acre Rock Creek Park to explore numerous trails for running, hiking, bicycling and birding. Founded in 1890, the park is one of the first federal established parks and features a wide array of wildlife such as migrant birds, owls, deer, coyotes, raccoons and more. The park provides an oasis within the District of Columbia for all outdoor enthusiasts including avid trail runners. Lace up your trail running shoes and prepare to hit scenic trails surrounded by steam valleys, forrested hills, historical structures and Civil War forts.
Trails Near the Nature Center:
Explore the park with these three trails that begin from the Rock Creek Park Nature Center:
- Boulder Bridge Hike: This three-mile loop features views of water rapids, Boulder Bridge, Mountail Laurel groves and a glimpse of the National Cathedral. From the Nature Center, access the marked trail by heading south toward the Horse Center. Turn left into the parking lot and walk to the wooden fences straight ahead.The trail head is located to the left of the fences. Follow trail signs blazed in blue paint slashes on the trees.
- Milkhouse Ford Hike: Tackle this easy 1.75-mile loop trail and pass by Fort DeRussy, a Civil War fort used in the Battle of Fort Stevens to defend the nation’s capital. Other sights include Miller Cabin, dedicated to a Californian poet. Access the trail by walking down the paved bike path from the Nature Center. Cross Military Road then walk east. Follow the blue blaze to guide you out and back to the Nature Center.
- Rapide Bridge Hike: This 2-mile loop trail parallels one of the most scenic portion of Rock Creek. Trailhead access is located at the left of the Horse Center’s parking lot, by the wooden fence. Trail features include hardwood trees, water rapids and granite outcroppings. The trail meanders through the Rapids Brigde that crosses Rock Creek and also along the Ross Drive Bridge. Take a breather while on the Rapids Bridge and enjoy the vantage point that showcases the creek’s beauty.
Aside from the trails above, an extensive network of trails for hiking, cycling and birding are located throughout Rock Creek Park. Explore on your own and enjoy facilties such as the Planetarium, Carter Barron Amphitheatre, picnic grounds or participate in various ranger-led programs and cell phone tours to learn more about the history and nature of Rock Creek. Admission to Rock Creek Park is free.
Rock Creek Park
5200 Glover Road NW Washington DC 20015
Directions to the Nature Center:
From Dupont Circle:
Proceed Northeast on New Hampshire Avenue for approximately half a mile when it will intersect 16th Street. Head north on 16th Street, towards the Maryland border. About 3 1/4 miles up the road, it will intersect Military Road, after Madison and Nicholson Streets. Take the right hand exit onto Military Road west (cloverleaf ramp). Cross Military Bridge and then it will turn into a small parkway. Get in the left-hand lane. Make a left at the first light that you come to, at Glover and Oregon Roads. You are now on Glover Road and can follow the signs to the Nature Center.
The Friendship Heights or Fort Totton Metro are the closest to the Nature Center. Take the E-2, E-3 bus (from either Metro stop) to the intersection of Glover & Military Rd. Get off, look to your left and follow the trail up to the Nature Center. The Van Ness Station is the closest metro stop to Peirce Mill, but it is still about a mile away. From Van Ness, walk south on Connecticut Avenue to Tilden Street and make a left. Follow Tilden to the bottom of the hill and the mill is on your left. Foggy Bottom is the closest metro stop to the Old Stone House, from there walk north to Washington Circle and take Pennsylvania Ave. west M street and continue west along M Street to the Old Stone House, about a 1/2 mile.