Here are 9 amazing, pet-friendly hikes in the DC area!
With incredible dog parks, hiking, and dog-friendly restaurant options, the Nation's Capital is a pet parent's paradise! With the bountiful Rock Creek Park and many other dog-friendly areas in the city, Washington DC offers plenty of choices for dog owners looking to get outside. Besides the dog parks and other pet-friendly parks in the metro area, there are also excellent natural areas just outside the city. When you feel like getting away from the traffic and getting in touch with your wild side, there are many choices for fantastic dog-friendly hikes waiting for you. Here are nine hikes to get you started!
Where to Take a Dog-Friendly Hikes in the Washington, DC Area
- Rock Creek Park
- Potomac Overlook Regional Park
- Billy Goat Trail
- Theodore Roosevelt Island
- Scott's Run Nature Preserve
- Harper's Ferry National Historical Park
- Prince William Forest Park
- Catoctin Mountain Park
- Shenandoah National Park
Rock Creek Park — Washington, DC
Rock Creek Park is big — like really big! Roughly two and half times the size of Central Park, DC's crown jewel of parks has about 30 miles of walking and hiking trails. Spend a glorious day with your pup, blazing your own route, and enjoying the scenic views that Rock Creek Park has to offer. Remember to bring lots of water and maybe a yummy snack for you and your dog!
Potomac Overlook Regional Park — Arlington, VA
Potomac Overlook Regional Park offers 67-acres of lush natural landscapes in Arlington, VA. Just across the Potomac River from Downtown, this beautiful natural area will be an absolute treat for both you and your happy pup! Hike the Donaldson Run Trail and take in the beautiful scenery as you trek along with your best buddy. If you ever end up at Potomac Overlook Regional Park without your pup, make sure to check out the Nature Center, Butterly Garden, and Birds of Prey House.
Billy Goat Trail — Potomac, MD
Billy Goat Trail has three main sections. Section A is not suitable for dogs, but Sections B & C are dog-friendly and good to go! Section B of Billy Goat Trail is a little more challenging than Section C, but both segments should be no problem for athletic pups -- each section is about one and a half miles. It will be hard not to enjoy your beautiful surroundings as you scramble over rocks with your best buddy at your side!
Theodore Roosevelt Island — Washington, DC
Another amazing natural area is hidden just off the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. This 88 acre National Park is an easy escape from the city. You'll feel instantly transported to another world when you hike the two and a half miles of trails on the island. With no cars, no bikes, and no fees, there is no reason not to run away from the city for a day and take your buddy for an adventure!
Scott's Run Nature Preserve — McLean, VA
With waterfalls, wildflowers, and scenic wooded trails, Scott's Run Nature Preserve is the perfect day-trip getaway. No matter your hiking skill level, it will be easy to find the right trail for you and your dog. Scott's Run has open, clear paths for a leisurely stroll, as well as more aggressive trails for those looking to really break a sweat. You'll enjoy both the beauty of the park and how completely exhausted your dog will be when you get home.
Harper's Ferry National Historical Park — Harpers Ferry, WV
Harper's Ferry is full of history and beautiful natural spaces. You might take a historic Civil War tour or visit one of the local museums, or you might go for a totally awesome hike with your dog. Harpers Ferry Nation Park has over 20 miles of excellent hiking trails backdropped by stunning landscapes. The trails range from easy to difficult, so you'll be able to find the perfect hike to suit your mood. Whether you decide to walk a Civil War battlefield or climb a mountain, you're sure to have a memorable day.
Prince William Forest Park — Triangle, VA
Prince William Forest Park feels worlds away from the city. The 15,000-acre wooded park is perfect for hiking, camping, and picnicking. Dog-friendly and easily accessible from DC, Prince William Forest Park is an oasis for pet parents and outdoor lovers. With 37 miles of hiking trails and 100 campsites, there is no shortage of fun to be had!
Catoctin Mountain Park — Thurmont, MD
Catoctin Mountain Park is full of beautiful waterfalls, rock formations, and wildlife. It also has 25 miles of amazing hiking trails for you and your pup to explore. In case you were wondering if the park was dog-friendly, rest assured, it definitely is. So dog-friendly, in fact, that Catoctin Mountain Park has volunteer BARK Rangers that maintain the trails. Of course, BARK stands for: Bag your poop. Always use a leash. Respect Wildlife. Know where you can go.
As long as you do what the BARK Rangers say, you and your dog will have a great time!
Shenandoah National Park — Luray, VA
This one is probably the farthest from DC, but it is definitely worth the drive. Shenandoah National Park spans over 80,000 acres, which encompass over 500 miles of hiking trails. So yeah, there might be something for you and your dog to do out there. A couple of highlights include the White Oak Canyon Hike and the more difficult, Little Devils Stairs Trail. Shenandoah is one of the few National Parks that allow dogs on the trails, so make sure to respect the rules to keep the access available for future pet parents.
Here are a few bonus activities as recommended by our awesome readers!
- Potomac Heritage Trail
- Turkey Run Park
- Glen Carlyn Park
- Dyke Marsh
- Great Falls Park
- Mason Neck State Park
- NW Branch Trail
Take a Hike!
Whether you decide to stay close to home and take a long walk through Rock Creek Park or make the trek out to Shenandoah, you'll have a downright awesome adventure. Not to mention, your dogs will be super grateful for the exercise and quality time spent with you. There are just a few things to remember, especially when you go on longer hikes. Always bring enough water for your pets and yourself. Be respectful of the park rules, other hikers, and wildlife. And lastly, have a great time!