Weekend Picks: Outdoor Activities

Jesse Schaefer is serving as the Program Advisor for the 2011 Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service. Her blog entry is the fifth in a series of “Weekend Picks” for TFAS interns spending their 2011 summer in DC.

If you and I are anything alike, spending time at a desk can make you a little stir-crazy, so escape your work and studies by expending some energy in the great outdoors! Here are just a few places that will sufficiently tire you out and ensure a great night’s sleep.

Potomac Heritage Trail: The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail is a network of locally-managed trails between the mouth of the Potomac River and the Allegheny Highlands. The Trail network encompasses 830 miles of trails across five geographic regions and offers opportunities for hiking, bicycling, paddling and horseback riding. The Trail website is very user friendly, enabling you to plan an itinerary for your activity of choice. 

Explore just a piece of the trail, known as the Mt. Vernon Trail, by crossing the KeyBridgeand entering the trail on the left. This 18.5 mile portion of the trail offers wonderful views of the Potomac Riverand monuments, including Theodore Roosevelt Island, a memorial to President Theodore Roosevelt set in an 88-acre park.

C&O Canal Tow Path: Declared a National Historic Park in 1971, the 184.5 mile long Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is located along the north bank of the Potomac River, starting in Washington, DC and ending in Cumberland, MD. The canal was built between 1828 and 1850 and operated sporadically until 1924. Today, much of the canal has been drained of water and reclaimed by the forest, but remains a favorite of hikers, joggers, and bicyclists. 

The trail begins in Georgetown at the C&O Canal Visitors Center located at 1057 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW.

If you’ve had enough walking, ride along the historic canal in a boat pulled by mules for $8.00 while you hear from park rangers dressed in period clothing describe what life was like for the families that lived and worked on the canal.

Jack’s Boathouse or Thompson Boat Center: Located along the Potomac and within close proximity to Georgetown campus, these two places offer affordable boat rentals. Both offer kayaks and canoes; in addition, Jack’s Boathouse also offers stand-up paddleboards and Thompson Boat Center offers rowing shells and sailboats (with proper certification).

Capital Bikeshare: Looking for a bike to venture out on one of the aforementioned trails?

Rent a bike from Capital Bikeshare. It’s never been easier.

  • Just swipe your credit card at any Capital Bikeshare kiosk to join for the day.
  • Once you join at a station, you’ll get an unlocking code. Enter the code at any bike dock and when the green light appears, pull the handlebar firmly toward you to release the bike
  • When you are finished, return the bike to any Capital Bikeshare station. Push the front wheel firmly into an empty dock and wait for the green light to turn on so you know it’s properly secured.

Don’t forget to pack a water bottle, insect repellent and sunscreen. Enjoy!

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