Remember Nature? Those who easily tire of concrete sidewalks and steel buildings and seek surroundings more like Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” can enjoy the smell of grass and feel of dirt footpaths just minutes from downtown.
Theodore Roosevelt Island sits in the middle of the Potomac River, blocked off from cars and bikes. The island, accessible by footbridge only, is lined with short easy trails that weave through woodsy, swampy and open grassy areas.
The park is free and open year-round.
Interested nature-seekers should take the Metro to Rosslyn, walk Lynn Street toward Lee Highway and turn right onto the Mount Vernon Trail (visible from the road). The trail runs into a bridge that crosses the Potomac to the island. A sign marks the entrance.
For hikers looking for more than a short nature stroll, there’s the 6,300-acre Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg, Md.
The forested area includes more than a half-dozen “easy” to “moderate” trails ranging from 1 to 16 miles. Several trails encircle Clopper Lake, a prime fishing spot. Another passes three stone arches that once upheld the old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
There are picnic pavilions for lunching, and several trails allow mountain bikes.
It’s here that those on foot get a nice perk: Although the state park charges an admission fee for cars driving in for the day, those who walk into the park get free admission. Washingtonians can catch the Red Line to Shady Grove and hop on the Ride-On Bus 71 for a 10-minute ride to the park’s entrance.
Although park offices are closed on the weekends in early spring, guests can pick up trail maps just inside the first set of double doors, which remain open.