Best Dog Walking Trails In Washington DC

September 6, 2013 8:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Getting outdoors for a great walk is made even better with your best friend. These walking trails are the perfect place for Fido to get some exercise with you. Whether you’re looking for a paved trail to run, a dirty path to bike on or some rocky terrain to try, you’re sure to find a trail to suit you and your dog’s needs.

Cabin John Regional Park
7400 Tuckerman Lane
Bethesda, MD 20817
(301) 299-0024

With more than 14 miles of rustic trails that wind through the woods of Potomac, Maryland, Cabin John Park is a great place to take your dog for a nice hike. There’s a shallow creek that runs through the park, so Fido can play in the water to cool off a bit. The hikes are very easy with slight inclines. The Cabin John Steam Valley Trail runs from McArthur Blvd. up to Montrose Rd. and is about nine miles of woods hiking with gorgeous views of the stream. Even on the weekend, this area is pretty secluded for those looking to get back to nature. The other portion of the trail is accessed in multiple areas. Start at the Locus Grove Nature Center and wind over towards Tuckerman Lane where there’s a dog park for your canine companion to romp around when you’re done.

Capital Crescent Trail
(202) 234-4874

One of the most popular trails in DC, the Capital Crescent Trail runs 11 miles from Silver Spring to Georgetown. Originally, the trail began when the B&O Railroad’s Georgetown Branch was abandoned. The trail was then paved over and has been one of the best hikes in DC since. This multi-use trail is paved making it a very easy, long hike to walk, run or bike with your best friend. Access is available at multiple points in Silver Spring, Bethesda and Georgetown. This trail can be crowded on the weekends, so it’s best suited for those canines with a calm disposition that can handle the excitement of kids, bikes and joggers all at the same time.

C&O Canal
1057 Thomas Jefferson St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 653-5190

The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, more commonly referred to as the C&O Canal, makes for a very easy hike that can be as short as a romp through DC or as long at the full trail of nearly 185 miles. Start at the Visitor’s Center in Georgetown and take the wide dirt path that runs the full length of the Potomac River up through DC into Maryland and then eventually terminates in Cumberland, Maryland. Most Washingtonians choose the Georgetown to Swain’s Lock portion of the trail that winds a little more than 15 miles and offers historical points as you pass by lock to lock. This trail is multi-use and very popular with bikers. While the trail is very wide, it’s still important to keep a lookout for the safety of you and your companion.

Related: Best Gifts For Pets In Washington DC

Great Falls
9200 Old Dominion Drive
McLean, VA 22102
(703) 285-2965

Great Falls offers the most stunning views of the power of the Potomac. Besides going to see the falls, be sure to hit the 15 miles of hiking trails. Many of the trails are wider, multi-use trails that allows both hikers, bikers and horseback riders. Chose the Swamp Trail for a brief 1.8-mile hike through lowland forest, or the popular and challenging Billy Goat Trail for those looking for a greater challenge. Section A of the trail should be avoided as bolder climbing is a necessity. Be sure to bring plenty of water for you and Fido.

Rock Creek Park
5200 Glover Road N.W.
Washington, DC 20015
(202) 895-6000

With more than 32 miles of rustic and paved trails inside the large Rock Creek Park that spans from Maryland deep into DC, you and your canine companion will have a great walk, run or bike. The main trails most used include the Western Ridge Trail, which runs along the western side of the park, and the Valley Trail, which runs along the creek and Beach Drive. Sections of Beach Drive are closed to cars during the weekends, so you can feel free to walk your dog on the road. Don’t be surprised to see horses along the trails as there’s a horse center in the middle of the park. It’s also not unexpected to see deer in the park, so it’s a good park for dogs that have been exposed to those animals before.

Related: Dog-Friendliest Work Places In Washington DC

Jamie Hardin is the counter-culture Washingtonian in the know. Inspired by food, sustainability issues, and public health, she prides herself on finding DC’s off-the-beaten path treasures. When she isn’t enjoying organic food or reducing her carbon footprint, Jamie’s traveling on her scooter or walking her two pit bulls. Her work can be found at

Listen Live