February 17, 2014

Project DC: Rock Creek Park

Usually, unseasonably warm winter days make me a bit nervous about the reality of climate change (at heart, I'm a neurotic New Yorker, shhh), but sometimes I throw caution to the tropical wind and decide to enjoy a warm winter afternoon. Maybe it's because I had spent the previous weekend sick in bed with a fever, but on this particular day, I was craving some outdoor time.

The hubs agreed to humor my request to go on a leisurely hike through Rock Creek Park, and we promptly hopped on one of the E buses that go across town towards Friendship Heights. It conveniently dropped us off near the entrance of the Rock Creek Park Nature Center (Military Road NW & Glover Road NW). I love that it was so easy to get there, especially since there are times when living in Northeast DC without a car can be a hassle, but this was smooth and simple. There's also available parking near the Nature Center, which is good to know if we ever return with a vehicle.

We decided to do the Rapids Bridge Loop, an easy 2-mile circuit that meanders along the creek and back through the woods. On such a beautiful day, we initially didn't see too many people, though the trail became more populated as we got further into it. Even so, it wasn't crowded, and there were moments when everything was perfectly quiet and still-- very peaceful!

This trail is an easy one, and it probably took us a little over an hour to complete at a casual pace, including plenty of pauses along the way to crawl along the creek rocks, enjoy the view from Rapids Bridge, and explore moss-covered sandstone pieces left over from a 1959 renovation of the U.S. Capitol-- seriously!!! There are so many treasures tucked away in the park. 

After the trail cuts right, away from the creek, it leads uphill for a bit, but it shouldn't be too much of a challenge, even for novices (we're certainly no hiking experts ourselves). Just take it slow and enjoy your surroundings! I was amazed at how quiet some parts of the trail were, even though we weren't too far from the roads that cut through the park. Isn't it amazing how soothing it can be to be in the presence of nature? I loved it. I would love to return when the trails are a bit greener, though, as the park seemed rather brown and monochromatic-- typical for winter and still very beautiful, but I think it's an entirely different, even more stunning experience in the spring or fall. 

If the hubs and I had gotten an earlier start and thus had more daylight, we would have done one of the longer trails, but I think that this was a great start. The National Park Service recommends three easy hikes right near the Nature Center (Boulder Bridge Hike, 3 miles; Milkhouse Ford Hike, 1.75 miles; and the Rapids Bridge Hike, 2 miles), and since it was so easy for us to get there from our house, I think we will definitely return for some leisurely walks through the park on future sunny days. I'd also like to tackle some of the longer routes, like the Western Ridge Trail and the Valley Trail

At the end of the afternoon, just as the January chill started to seep in, we finished up our hike and headed back home. It was such a simple way to spend some time together, and I loved how invigorated it made me. I wish that we had something like this years ago, and I'm so thankful that the hubs indulged my urge to get outdoors. We need more time with the trees and the rocks, even if it's relatively brief. I love the city, I really do... but pavement and taxi cabs don't replenish me. But getting my boots muddy and scuffing them up as I crawl around creek rocks? Now that is good for the soul. 

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Want to read more about having fun in DC? Follow along as I embark on Project DC:

2. Go for a leisurely hike in Rock Creek Park.
3. Go on a White House tour.
6. Take a day trip to Annapolis.
7. Go to the Newseum.
8. Go back to Jazz in the Garden when it starts up again in the spring.
9. Go to the Holocaust Museum.
11. See the FDR Memorial.
13. Go to the National Portrait Gallery.
14. Go to the Corcoran.
17. Go to more embassy events.
19. See the drum circle at Malcolm X Park.
20. Mini golf at H Street Country Club.
21. Evening drinks at POV.
22. Visit the National Archives.
24. Walk through the National Arboretum.
26. Go to the Jefferson Memorial.