Though situated right next to Washington, DC along the Potomac River, Arlington is a relatively small, urban-suburban community. Replete with highways, malls and housing developments, fewer wooded areas are available for hiking experiences.
When you’re ready for a long and peaceful hike in the great outdoors, chances are you’ll end up just a few minutes away in neighboring communities like Fairfax County or Washington, DC. These are the top places to enjoy outdoor fitness and recreational opportunities near Arlington.
Potomac Heritage Trail
Also known as Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail or PHT, this trail actually runs from the Ohio River Basin to the Chesapeake Bay. But don’t worry, you don’t have to go all the way to Ohio to enjoy this hiking experience.
As an Arlington local, you can pick up the 10-mile stretch of trail that meanders through McLean and Arlington along the Potomac River. In spite of the most powerful government in the world being less than five miles away from PHT, when you’re in the thick of the trail, the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital seems like a world away.
Be sure to check the National Park Service website before hiking PHT. Weather and natural phenomenon such as landslides may impede your ability to use the trail depending on the time of year.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
Once neglected farmland, the 90-acre island was transformed into a memorial to President Thedore Roosevelt in the 1930s. The island, offering an easy loop hike as well as various intermediate short trails, is located in the Potomac River, right between Arlington and Washington, DC.
In fact, once you walk across the scenic bridge onto Theodore Roosevelt Island, you’re in Washington, DC. Trails within the park run through man-made forests and marshes, designed to pay homage to Roosevelt, who was known to be an outdoors man.
Park in the lot just off the George Washington Memorial Parkway to access this family friendly park. Plan to check out the Theodore Roosevelt monument as well as a variety of birds and wildflowers.
Potomac Overlook Park
This 70-acre outdoor recreation and education center is located at the edge of North Arlington. Take the whole family to enjoy the trails, woodland and educational gardens. Potomac Overlook Park also has a picnic area.
Stop by the park’s Nature Center to learn about ecology, chemistry, natural history and clean energy solutions from tour guides and staff. The easy-to-moderate hike around the park is just over 1.5 miles. Amenities to make your hiking experience more enjoyable include parking and restrooms.