5 Family Hikes in Washington DC Area

travelU.S. Travel

After living in Utah for the past 12 years my family of 6 recently moved to the east coast. This has been a huge change for all of us. With the east coast consisting of so many big cities we were worried that we wouldn't find the same sort of outdoor adventure activities that we loved doing in Utah. Oh boy, were we wrong!

Within days of getting settled in the new house we were hiking The Appalachian Trail. With over 2,000 miles spanning from Maine to Georgia we choose an easy family friendly four mile hike right around the corner. We found The Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry which is just over an hour outside of Washington DC. They preserve and manage the care of the Appalachian Trail year round. They were able to give us all kinds of great information on hiking with the kids and where to go. The kids had a great time and can’t wait to do a lot more hiking. We have already made a list of hikes that we want to try this winter.

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5 Family Hikes in Washington DC Area

Here are five hikes that are within driving distance of Washington DC.

1. Compton Gap to Compton Peak in Front Royal, VA. This is a moderately difficulty hike. It is 2.4 miles round trip, with a climb of 835 feet but the hike is worth it when you get to the beautiful overlook at the top. Parking is available at Compton Gap, which is located at mile 10.4 on Skyline Drive.

2. C&O Canal Towpath in Harpers Ferry, WV. This is an easy hike, great for families with little ones. It is a 1 mile to 5.4 mile round trip hike. It is great because you can backtrack at any point. On this hike you can experience a little civil War history. You will walk right through Historic Harpers Ferry. There are many places for food and drink stops on this hike which makes it idea for a family day excursion.

3. Crampton Gap Burkittsville, MD. This is a very easy hike. It can be as short as .5 of a mile to 5 miles round trip. It is a backtrack hike so you can turn around at any point when the family starts to get tired. On this hike you will see historical buildings and monuments. It also has picnic areas for rests and a picnic lunch.

4. Washington Monument Burkittsville, MD. This is an easy to moderate hike for older kids and parents. It starts at .4 of a mile and goes about 8 miles. It is a very popular day hike. This hike starts in the Washington Monument State Park. You can hike to see the first completed monument that was dedicated to the memory of George Washington.

5. Keys Gap to Harpers Ferry, WV. This is an easy to moderate (mostly downhill) hike. It is 6.1 miles all the way through. This is a perfect day hike. This hike takes you through woodlands and then descends into Harpers Ferry. You cross at the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet.

Whether you are looking to entertain the kids on a summer day off of school, or for a Saturday afternoon during the fall these hikes are sure to do the trick. I don’t know what I was worried about; there is more than enough to keep us busy here outdoors for years!

Do you have a favorite place to hike with your family?

Picture courtesy of Nate Shivar


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