Day Hikes Near Arlington, Virginia

Arlington is the perfect jumping off point for some of the capital region’s top hiking spots. Stretch your legs on these fabulous trails during your Arlington trip.

Great Falls National Park

Driving Time from Arlington: ~30 minutes

Perfect for Sightseers

Just a short drive from Arlington through lush green woods and sprawling estates, Great Falls National Park is a local favorite for its 15 miles of hiking trails along the Potomac River. This national park is a popular spot for viewing waterfalls and hiking along Mather Gorge's dramatic clifftops. Take an easy walk out to see the Great Falls from the viewing platforms along the water, or take the River Trail 1.5 miles to walk along the river and be treated to stunning vistas. Stop by the onsite visitor center (at the main entrance to the park) for help with hikes and points of interest. There are also onsite picnic tables for an al fresco lunch after your walk.

Great Falls Park
Great Falls Park via carmadephoto/Instagram

Burke Lake Park

Driving Time from Arlington: ~30 minutes

Perfect for Families

Spend that afternoon with your family at the Burke Lake Park. This 888-acre county park has countless activities for families during the spring, summer and fall, including fall foliage tours and star gazing. Take a 4.7-mile easy walk around the lake path, which winds its way through the woods and features exercise circuits with vistas of the lake. There are also other family-friendly activities in-season, like taking a ride on the miniature Central Pacific Huntington steam engine train, picnicking, playing mini-golf, and enjoying a scoop of ice cream.

Burke Park Lake
Burke Lake Park via almeyda_j/Instagram

Sugarloaf Mountain

Driving Time from Arlington: ~1 hour

Perfect for a Taste of the Country

Sugarloaf Mountain is a hidden gem in the Maryland countryside. Offering three hiking trails, this peaceful hiking spot is lesser known than others. Hop on the Northern Peaks Trail at the parking lot for a serene 5-mile walk with wooded paths and vista points, as well as spots for a picnic. Horseback riders will enjoy the 7-mile trail on the mountain. End your hike at one of the nearby wineries like Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards or a visit to Soleado Lavendar Farm.

Shenandoah National Park

Driving Time from Arlington: 1 hour 15 minutes

Perfect for Seasoned Hikers and Leaf Peepers

Shenandoah National Park is a long, skinny park winding its way through the Blue Ridge Mountains and overlooking the Shenandoah Valley. It offers 200,000 acres of protected lands with waterfalls, scenic vistas and wildlife viewing. Start your park visit at the Dickey Ridge Visitors Center to get all of the best information on the condition of the trails, points of interest and facilities. Make sure to use the restrooms while onsite, as some facilities are only open seasonally. To catch great fall vistas, hike up to Mary’s Rock or take a stroll along the Appalachian Trail. Experienced hikers will want to try Old Rag, the park’s most popular and crowded hike, which is a 7-8 hour challenging rock scramble with stunning views up to the top. Hike Old Rag on weekdays or in the mornings to avoid the crowds.

Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park via @lou_wanders/Instagram

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Author: Talia Salem