10 Best Cleveland Park Hiking Trails

Boulder Bridge, Rock Creek Park

If there’s one thing Cleveland Park residents pride themselves on, it’s our dedication to outdoor recreation. No other neighborhood in DC has a greater wealth of hiking trails and outdoor activities, ranging from incredibly challenging to blissfully soothing and traversing through beautiful creeks, historic spots, majestic vistas, and gorgeous natural beauty. Below are our favorite hikes within walking distance of Cleveland Park.

Klingle Valley Trail - Cleveland Park

Klingle Valley Trail

Reopened in June 2017 after 25+ years in development limbo, the refurbished Klingle Valley Trail is Cleveland Park’s newest hiking trail. The trail follows the alignment of a section of Klingle Road NW that was damaged by floods in 1991 and had been barricaded off to prohibit access.

The 0.7 mile trail features a wide, well-lit paved path that begins at Klingle Rd. NW near the National Cathedral and the exit from Washington International School and follows the gently babbling Klingle Creek as it winds its way past Tregaron Conservancy until it meets Rock Creek at Porter Street.

Update: The KVT is temporarily closed through November 30, 2018 to upgrade an existing DC Water sewer within the limits of the trail. From December 3-21, the trail will be closed during the daytime, 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, while work continues and is expected to reopen fully on December 22.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 0.7 miles
Bikes allowed: Yes

Tregaron Conservancy - Cleveland ParkJennifer Packard

Tregaron Conservancy

After more than 25 years of legal battles, the Friends of Tregaron (the predecessor to the Tregaron Conservancy) negotiated a landmark agreement to save this natural gem from development in perpetuity.

Accessed one block west of Connecticut Ave NW on Macomb St. NW (follow the entrance to the Washington International School), near the midpoint of the Klingle Valley Trail, or  just east of the intersection at Klingle and Woodley Roads, this 100-year old woodland park features 13 acres of gardens, meadows, streams, gently sloping trails and a lily pond.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 0.25 miles
Bikes allowed: No

Melvin Hazen Trail - Cleveland ParkMax Leaver

Melvin C. Hazen Trail

Bisected by busy Connecticut Ave NW, this short trail provides a quiet, shaded respite from the bustle of the city. Beginning at the intersection of Reno Rd NW and Tilden Rd NW, the path follows a quiet stream tributary as it winds its way 150 feet down to Rock Creek and connects to the Valley Trail and Western Ridge Trails. The trail has several stream crossings, so good walking shoes are required to traverse the sometimes slippery stones.

The trail is also easily accessible via an unmarked trailhead at the end of Quebec St NW. Following that trail downhill to the left leads to the creek, which you can follow upstream to continue up the Melvin C. Hazen Trail or head downstream to the Western Ridge Trail. Following the Quebec St. NW trail downhill to the right will lead to the National Park Service headquarters for Rock Creek, the Rock Creek Park Trail. Following the “strenuous” signs leads to an athletic rock scramble with gorgeous cliffside views of Rock Creek.

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Distance: 1.2 miles
Bikes allowed: No

Glover-Archbold TrailMax Leaver

Glover-Archbold Trail

Technically not Cleveland Park, the Glover-Archbold Trail is an excellent option for those wishing to extend the distance of their Cleveland Park hike. Accessible via Upton St. NW just off Wisconsin Ave. NW, roughly 3-4 blocks from the terminus of the Melvin C. Hazen Trail. It’s also accessible via 39th St. NW, either at its northern end or its intersection with Newark St. NW, 5-6 blocks west of the end of the Klingle Valley Trail.

The Glover-Archbold Trail winds its way south through Tenleytown and Glover Park until it terminates 3 miles later in Georgetown at the C&O Canal and the Capital Crescent Trail.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3 miles
Bikes allowed: No

Beach Drive (Weekends Only)

Every Saturday and Sunday, the National Park Service closes Beach Drive to all vehicle traffic from Broad Branch Rd NW to Military Road NW, turning the normally busy road into a pedestrian and cyclist mecca.

For over 1.5 miles, the road follows the gentling winding and sloping Rock Creek north, crossing the beautiful and iconic Boulder Bridge. Along the way, the road crosses several entry and exit points to the Valley Trail for those wishing to leave behind the pavement for more forgiving (and secluded) dirt paths.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.5 miles
Bikes allowed: Yes

Soapstone TrailMax Leaver

Soapstone Trail

Just a short walk from the Western Ridge Trail and Beach Dr. NW, the Soapstone Trail is one of the least-discovered trails in the neighborhood. Head west on Broad Branch Rd. NW from Beach Dr. NW and take the Western Ridge Trail for roughly 450 feet to reach the trailhead. The trail follows Soapstone Creek behind Hillwood Estate through several small waterfalls and interesting rock formations until it reaches its northern nexus at Albemarle St. NW in Van Ness.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 0.8 miles
Bikes allowed: No

Smithsonian National ZooJennifer Packard

National Zoo Trail

Some may not consider the roughly 1 mile walk through the National Zoo a “trail,” but the National Zoo is an excellent and fun connecting point to several of Cleveland Park’s trails and can be a serene (and entertaining) running trail in the morning, before the crowds arrive. Grab a coffee at Firehook or a bagel at Baked by Yael and wander to the Zoo entrance at 3000 Connecticut Ave. NW. From there, wind your way downward through the Zoo. The main path (Olmsted Walk) is the fastest route to the bottom, but several side paths loop out and back to Olmsted Walk, most of which are less populated by zoo visitors.

The Zoo trail ends once it reaches Rock Creek, at which point heading north along Beach Drive will bring you to the Klingle Valley Trail at Porter St. NW or you can continue north to the Western Ridge Trail and Valley Trail. Following Rock Creek south will bring you to Woodley Park, or you can continue south through the District until you reach the C&O Canal in Georgetown.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Distance: 0.9 miles
Bikes allowed: No

Rock Creek Park Valley TrailMax Leaver

Valley Trail

One of the longest trails in Rock Creek National Park, the Valley Trail splits from the Western Ridge Trail, where it crosses Beach Dr. NW between Tilden Rd. NW and Piney Branch Parkway NW. As the name implies, it roughly follows the valley formed by Rock Creek north through Rock Creek National Park for over 5 miles, passing interesting natural and manmade features such as Pulpit Rock and Boulder Bridge until it reaches Boundary Bridge at the Maryland border.

In addition to connecting with the Western Ridge Trail, there are numerous side trails to choose from along the way, including the Meadowlark and Theodore Roosevelt Side trails.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 5.1 miles
Bikes allowed: No

Rock Creek Park Western Ridge TrailMax Leaver

Western Ridge Trail

Accessible via Rock Creek Park Trail or Melvin C. Hazen Trail, or from the parking lot adjacent to Peirce Mill, Western Ridge Trail is one of the longest trails in Rock Creek Park, extending from Cleveland Park north to the Maryland border. The trail passes through or close to numerous natural and historic sites, including Peirce Mill, Rock Creek Park Horse Center, Rock Creek Park Nature Center, dumping grounds for the carved stones used in the construction of the Capitol, and Fort DeRussy, a civil war era fortification.

Numerous side trails split from the main trail to head back down to Rock Creek, west to exit the park or to provide separate trails for hikers and horseback riders from the nearby Rock Creek Park Horse Center.

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Distance: 4.4 miles
Bikes allowed: Yes, from Porter St. NW to Broad Branch St. NW
Horses allowed: Yes. Watch your step!

Rock Creek Park Trail

Washington D.C.’s most beloved green space begins just north of Piney Branch Parkway NW, where it joins with the Melvin C. Hazen and Western Ridge trails, and runs south through the District passing the Klingle Valley Trail and National Zoo until it reaches the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall.

At its lower end, it passes under numerous gorgeous bridges past historic Oak Hill Cemetery and crosses over the C&O Canal in Georgetown near the Capital Crescent trail. The trail acts as a convenient, natural spine connecting nearly every hiking trail in the District.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 4.8 miles
Bikes allowed: Yes


Rock Creek Park From Top-to-Bottom

Check out this one-day hike that takes you to many of Rock Creek’s highlights over a 7-mile course…more of a challenge, but well worth the effort thanks to this handy guide from writer Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Washingtonian.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 7 miles

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