Washington, D.C. is known for having beautiful architecture, museums and monuments, but one of the most powerful cities in the U.S. also has many walking trails with gorgeous scenic views. With breathtaking scenes of the natural landscape of D.C., you can stroll along tranquil paths and riverside trails to experience an oasis in the the Nation’s Capital. The city’s visual appeal is extended with each trail surrounded by the contrasting views of busy city life and calming nature.
The National Mall
Washington, D.C.
(202) 426-6841

The National Mall stretches from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and is home of some of the most notable landmarks and events in the history of the United States. When strolling along the National Mall, you are walking the path traveled by many of the great leaders in American history. The tree-lined National Mall is one of the most popular tourist locations in D.C. for it’s historical significance as well as its symbolism of the political power of a nation. At one end of the Mall, you have the backdrop of the U.S. Capitol, and the other end is the Lincoln Memorial. Smithsonian Museums, memorials, sculptures and art exhibits all line the National Mall with artistic and architectural beauty that draws the curiosity of locals and tourists alike. The National Mall is within walking distance of several WMATA Metro train stations with the Orange Line Smithsonian Station on the grounds of the Mall.

The Tidal Basin
Washington, D.C.

In every season, the Tidal Basin has a beauty that is uniquely Washington. The Tidal Basin is a cherry blossom tree-lined reservoir that sits between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel. A popular destination in the spring time as the central location for the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival, The Tidal Basin is just as beautiful through the rest of the year. Take a paddle boat trip in the spring and summer months or visit one of the several memorials like the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. With the greatness of Washington Monument standing in the background, the Tidal Basin is one of the most scenic trails you will find in downtown Washington.

Capital Crescent Trail
3500 K St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
(202) 234-4874

If you are looking for a nice distance for a walking/jogging/biking trail, the Capital Crescent Trail a lovely choice. This paved trail begins on K St., N.W. in Georgetown and runs up to Bethesda, Maryland with a segment of the trail running along the Potomac River so you get to take in the beauty of the trees and the river during your outing. This peaceful trail is an escape from the lively city action and gives a stunning visual alternative to the hectic pace of the main streets of D.C. In the spring and summer, you can take in the newness of the seasons’ blooming trees and lush greenery while the fall months reveal the beautifully saturated hues of the foliage. The trail is especially beautiful in the winter if you want to brave the cold and snow and hit the pavement for a peaceful stroll.

Related:  Best Places For Winter Outdoor Adventures In Washington, D.C.

The Georgetown Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath Trail
Parallel to M St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007

D.C. has so many different scenic locations but none like the Georgetown Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath. Known by it’s abbreviated name, The C&O Canal, it is 185 miles long and reaches into Cumberland, Maryland. However, as well-known as the trail may be, many people may not know that the canal actually originates right in Georgetown. The beginning of The C&O Canal is surrounded by several historic homes and buildings dating back to the 18th century when it was created as a pathway to open up industrial growth opportunities from Washington to western states with it’s primary cargo being coal from the Allegheny Mountains. Beautiful trees line the streets, paths and bridges to the canal and the Washington Harbour which sits downhill from Georgetown’s M Street Corridor. Today, you may not find the shipping vessels of yesteryear, but you will find many joggers, walkers and visitors taking advantage of the more tranquil environment which is a stark contrast with the crowds that roam around on M St.

Rock Creek Park Valley Trail
Washington, D.C. 20008
(202) 895-6000

The Valley Trail located in the Rock Creek Park and runs along the eastern side of the park up to the D.C./Maryland state line. The trail runs through the Mt. Pleasant area of Columbia Heights, but aside from a few road crossings you won’t feel like you’re walking in the city, although the lovely home that near the park may be cause for pause and admiration. Along the trail you will encounter many interesting sites with one being the rock-covered Boulder Bridge. The trail meanders along the creek, hence the name, and you also pass a few interesting sights like the rock-covered Boulder Bridge. Rock Creek Park itself is a pretty large park but walking or hiking the Valley Trail is a great introduction of the beauty that the park has to offer.

Related: Best Scenic Drives Near Washington, D.C.

Tara L. Aldridge is a native of Washington, DC, a freelance and published writer, blogger, and photographer. She is a DC Healthy Food Examiner at Examiner.com. In 2013, Tara published her first book of poetry and currently works with young artists to help them develop their creative talents. Read more of her work at Examiner.com.