Nature’s Classroom: Get Smarter on 7 DMV Hikes

Hiking is great exercise and a fantastic way to enjoy nature as a family, but did you know it can be educational? We’ve enjoyed these local hikes with lots to learn along the trail. Take the learning outside and see what you learn together on your next adventure.  

Theodore Roosevelt Island

We learned about Theodore Roosevelt and his conservation efforts on this picturesque hike. My kids loved the sign that taught them how to age a tree. I was thankful for the trail marker that showed us more about poison ivy. Print out the Junior Ranger booklet online. Your kids can do the activities, mail it in and get a cool badge.

The quote on one of the memorial walls is beautiful, “There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.”

Washington Monument State Park

The trail from the parking lot to the original Washington Monument is dotted with educational signs about the United States and George Washington history. The reward for all the learning is a cool monument with a breathtaking view from the overlook. If you are up for even more adventure, head down to the Appalachian Trail and be a part of living history.   

St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church

Harper’s Ferry

The historical town is full of history around every corner. Our favorite part was the view from Jefferson Rock. Thomas Jefferson said it was a view worth crossing an ocean to see. In town, stop by the Visitors Center and grab a junior ranger book. We went through the activities with the kids, and they were so excited to get a badge to commemorate what we all learned. 

Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship

You’ll enjoy 10 miles of hiking to explore streams, spot wildlife, and imagine life in a 19th-century farming community. Native Americans, colonial settlers, and Civil War soldiers left their footprints on the trails. As you explore the property, find the 33 historical sites, including a spring house, deserted log cabins, and stone walls laid to stake claims.

Government Island

I had no idea the peninsula was a historical sight until after we parked the car. We got to visit the quarry where most famous U.S. government buildings were born. The interpretive signs along the trail share the story of its rich history. Be sure to hike far enough to climb the impressive rock walls. My kids couldn’t get enough. It looks scary, but there are easy trails to the top around the back.   

Neabsco Creek Boardwalk

Hike over to the ¾-mile boardwalk that traverses Neabsco Creek. The walkway is part of the Potomac National Heritage Scenic trail, which was established by Congress in 1983. The boardwalk is ADA compliant and encompasses educational sites that highlight information on native wildlife and plants.

Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park

This park is home to photo op-worthy historic buildings and a ton of native plants and wildlife. Many local photographers use the buildings as a backdrop for their sessions. Climb to the overlook to take in a scenic vista of the Potomac River.

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