Rock Creek Park on My Own Two Feet

My bikes were tired. I was sick. So I took yesterday off. Today was another story, And this is it.

I’ve lived in DC for 30 years, not including spending the summer here in 1980. And I have never hiked in Rock Creek Park. I’ve biked it. I’ve run it. I’ve even run a 10 mile race in it, but I’ve never taken to the wooded trails that run through the park like blood vessels.

Today, I rectified this in a big way. Starting from Pierce Mill I hiked the Western Ridge Trail to the Maryland line and then crossed the park and hike all the way back on the Valley Trail. I just checked a website that sad that the Valley Trail is 5.5 miles. That means I hoofed it over 11 miles. No wonder I’m tired.

Got Mud?
Got Mud?

For those of you unfamiliar with Rock Creek, it’s a wooded urban canyon that cleaves the Northwest quadrant of DC. I have stayed on the paved bike trail and roads of the park until today. The trails are mostly hard packed dirt. Hilly sections have timbers (and sometimes stairs) across the trails to make it easier to go up and down the sometimes steep hills. The Western Ridge Trail started out steep and a bit rocky but ended up being smooth for the most part. I was moving along pretty well when I spooked a deer (I hope it was a deer) in the bushes next to the trail. 

Up the Western Ridge
Up the Western Ridge

As the name implies, the Western Ridge Trail runs along the ridges on the western edge of the park. This means you have to hike up to the ridge. This was a decent work out. Once to the top the trail rolls up and down, ocassionally popping out on to a street here and there. At one point, in a wooded section, I was surprised to see three horses and their riders coming my way.

The Western Ridge Trail comes back down to the canyon floor at the Maryland/DC line. I cross Beach Drive, the road that runs through the park, and hit the Valley Trail. The Valley Trail was hit or miss. Sometimes it was an unpaved road, sometimes a dirt path through lush greenery. Sometimes it went straight up the side of the canyon. (Hey, where’s my stinking valley?).  It also had an annoying amount of tree routes to negotiate. 

Thankfully, the Valley Trail hung a right just at the end of this bridge
Thankfully, the Valley Trail hung a right just at the end of this bridge

I’m not complaining though.  It’s a damned nice way to spend a summer Sunday morning. Even a little rain didn’t spoil my day. That’s mostly because the tree canopy is so dense that the raindrops rarely made it through. 

I’m ready to get back on the bike now. 

There are a few more pix over on my Flickr page.

2 thoughts on “Rock Creek Park on My Own Two Feet

  1. Impressive hiking miles! That’s a good description of the trails in Rock Creek Park. The Valley Trail is darn technical in the middle. Flat and sandy up north. I run a lot of miles on the Western Ridge trail. Love the ups and downs.

  2. I really thought the Valley Trail would be a snap. It was harder than the Western Ridge. If I were running them, I’d focus on the WRT. I should tell you about the Hechts 10-miler someday. Start and finish at Carter Barron. The rest was pain!

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