Even though it is hot you still need to get outside and remember why you’re alive!! I don’t really mean existentially. I mean go hiking, get a good endorphin rush, and make yourself and the world a happier place.
I usually hate these “5 ways to make more money” or “10 best things to do on an airplane”, but these are some hikes that’ll remind you that there’s something outside of the fluorescent cube farm you spend most of your waking hours wedged in.
Now get outside—and I don’t mean Rock Creek Park. (That’s like the methadone an outdoor enthusiast gets when he can’t get the real thing.) Here goes the good stuff:
1. Old Rag Mountain. This mountain is kind of like Old Spice or Chuck Norris. It’s a classic, and it’s the most a*^-kicking trail around the District. The famous rock scramble really does make you feel like you’re on another planet, and the views along the way are incredible. While it says it takes 8 hours to tackle, I’ve done it in 3:30. I thought I was doing alright until an elderly gentleman caught up to us at the end and said he usually does it in around 3 hours. So what’s he like on a good day!? Just means there are people on that mountain way more hard core than me.
2. Devil’s Bathtub. There’s no “best hike” list in the world without a Devil’s Something-or-other, so I thought I’d throw this towards the top. That said, it’s a crazy good hike—heavy on the crazy. It’s 7 miles caught my attention when I read this description: “It is definitely not a smart choice for those picking their first true, backcountry hike. Hike at your own risk…” Between that and the multiple rescue operations performed each year, I couldn’t help myself! Well worth it.
3. Great Falls. Again classic—I know. But come on, if you’re in DC, so hiking by the Potomac is a must. On the Virginia side, the 9 mile jaunt from Great Falls to River Bend Park is gorgeous. On the Maryland side, you can do the 5-mile aptly named Billy Goat trail. Either way it’ll make you think twice about messing with that gentle-looking flow of the Potomac next time you cross it on your way back to those fluorescent lights. She’s tougher than she looks.
4. Assateague Island. Yes, wild, wild horses. But these bucking broncos do actually look like they could drag you away. This is one of the few places in the world to observe equestrian nature—well pseudo nature, I guess they’re not “native” to this side of the pond. Either way, it’s amazing to see these beautiful creates play with their foals on the beach. If you’re looking for something to rejuvenate your spirit after a long this is the place.
5. Appalachian Trail. While you cannot go wrong with almost any stretch, if you’re going to pick one, do the Maryland Series #6 from I140 to Pogo Campgrounds. This little piece of the trail passes several amazing overlooks not designed for the fear of heights. The total elevation gain of 1600 feet over 9 miles is especially exciting if you run back down. It makes for a heck of a day, but showering at home is always worth the extra leg.
6. Little Stony National Recreation Trail. Long name, short hike, amazingly scenic. The walk up to the hobbit-esque waterfall is just as mysterious as a Tolkien book. However, us long-legged humans can make the three miles all too quickly. If you find yourself asking for more, I understand that the connected Chief Bange Trail gets all the way up to High Knob.
7. Patapsco State Park. There are several amazing places to hit the trails in Patapsco for a renewed sense of self in an intoxicatingly oxygenated woodland. Makes you really consider how bad oxygen bars would be. The Avalon Super Loop feels like it’s built around a Civil War era (or earlier) ghost town, with all sorts of sheds, ancient machinery, houses and barns throughout. You’ll get lost in your own imagination along this 13 mile loop.
Now that the winter has passed, it’s time to channel your inner outdoors woods(wo)man. Work is no excuse, kids are no excuse. On the contrary, I leverage them both as excuses to get to these places:
Oh, my job’s so tough, I need to get out into nature… (hahaha, I love my job!)
Oh, I need to spend more quality time with my daughter… (hahaha, she’s going to be so angry when she finds out that golf is next on my excuse list!)
Get outside and start enjoying the outdoors and burning off the prodigious physical savings plan you’ve added to your front (or back) side over the cold months. These places are beautiful, and if you have the means and the time to do it, get out there and enjoy it. And if you have a job and kids—they will all thank you for it.