Local Hikes: Washington, DC

The best hikes near Washington, DC.

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Northern Virginia Hiking Club (nvhc.com)

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» Old Rag Mountain, Shenandoah NP A local secret? Definitely not. A local must? Absolutely. Beltway-area hikers who want a challenge will find steep climbing and exposed scrambling—gaining 2,200 feet—on the 7.7-mile round-trip to Old Rag’s open summit. “The finale is a classic,” says hike leader Ed Brimberg. “And the view—over a sea of trees—is spectacular.” Miles from city center 87; Trip ID53633

» Whiteoak Canyon, Shenandoah NP
Beat the heat on a muggy DC day. This 6.6-mile out-and-back drops into a steep canyon shaded with hemlocks and misted by numerous cool-water cascades. Plan some downtime at the upper falls of Whiteoak Run—at 86 feet, the park’s second-highest waterfall. Best part: After the stiff descent, take a long dip in the seat-deep pools under the last set of falls. Miles from city center 93; Trip ID8342

» Duncan Knob, George Washington NF Brimberg loves this 8.7-mile round-trip hike for its solitude, the scramble to the summit, and the views over the long, thin ridges of the Massanutten Range rising above the verdant Page Valley. “With two rocky ascents, the climbs are tough,” says Brimberg. “But it’s nice and lonely at the top. This hike is off the radar.” Miles from city center 107; Trip ID766972

» Halfmoon Mountain Loop, George Washington NF Climb 1,500 feet on this moderate 10-mile circuit. The trail ascends along the rocky ravine of Halfmoon Run, past tucked-away campsites, en route to the 2,826-foot high point at mile five. From the old lookout foundation, view the northern Blue Ridge rolling into West Virginia, with notable landmarks 2,964-foot Big Schloss and 2,900-foot Tibbett Knob capping Great North Mountain. Miles from city center 107; Trip ID766969