by Angela Meyers
Though DC’s winters are not as harsh as those further north, things can get snowy, windy, and sometimes downright frigid in our nation’s capitol, making it a chore to get outside. This wintertime hike, however, will have you lacing up your boots to get out and enjoy the surprising stillness of the city, in an area you might not have explored completely: Georgetown. You’ve eaten there, you’ve shopped around, but have you strolled down Lover’s Lane? Lingered in Rose Park? Crisscrossed the trails inside Dumbarton Oaks? If not, then you’re missing out on a delightful spot that’s right under our noses.
Places to Explore: Choose one, two, or check them all out with the suggested loop.
Dumbarton Oaks Park: This gorgeous, dog-friendly park behind the Dumbarton Oaks Museum boasts a lovely sitting ring, a historic stone bridge and pump house, as well as a water wheel, spring grotto, and pebble stream. The compact 27 acres make it easy to explore on your own, but the region is still large enough to escape the sounds of the city. You’ll find printed maps at the entrance gate (like this one: https://dopark.org/visit-2/trail-map/) showing the intersecting paths, which makes it easy to wander. Also, your dog will find no shortage of friends; on any given day, there are dozens of frolicking pups enjoying the scenery.
Montrose Park: This restored park adjoins Dumbarton Oaks and offers even more trails to explore with your dog. The brick walkways and adornments will add an elegant backdrop to your outing. Montrose Park was previously owned by the famous ropemaker Robert Parrot and is now part of Rock Creek Park.
Rock Creek Park: The end of Lover’s Lane links right into the Rock Creek Trail system. Head north and you’ll enjoy a hike towards Mass Ave. and the Zoo. Head South and you’ll end up in Georgetown. Use this helpful trail map to go as far as you like: https://www.nps.gov/rocr/planyourvisit/maps.htm
Making a Day of it: I always like to make a full day of my hiking excursions, so here is a longer loop, roughly five miles in length. Start at the corner of R and 28th. Explore Montrose Park by entering through the first path you encounter on R. Continue on that path (perpendicular to R St.) until you reach the back of the park. Take a left on the dirt path there and make your way down the hill to the paved path below. Take a right on the paved path until you reach another trail that shoots off to the left (there is a sign and a gate for Dumbarton Oaks Park).
Now, explore Dumbarton Oaks! Take the main trail to the back of the park, then return, working your way back to where you started. Be sure to do the full circuit around the stream to catch all of the historic highlights.
As you exit Dumbarton Oaks Park, you have two options. Take the Rock Creek trail the whole way down into Georgetown (a gorgeous, but longer walk along the river) or head back to 28th St. Walk down 28th and take a left onto O St. O brings you over through Rose Park, a cute little city park with restrooms. Past Rose Park is the Rock Creek Trail. Turn right there and take it into Georgetown, staying on the left-most trail until you are able to head right and reach the C&O Canal. At Wisconsin, turn left, then hang a quick right onto Grace St. Immediately on your left you’ll find Dog Tag Bakery, a great spot to grab a housemade hot cocoa and a bite to eat. The bakery is a non-profit providing education and career opportunities for veterans. Their mission can’t be beat, and they offer a variety of treats for humans and dogs! There is a park directly across Grace St. where you and your pooch can grab a table and nosh. After refueling, head back up north on Wisconsin, make a right onto R St., then go until you reach 28th. You will be back at your car, having enjoyed an inspiring winter adventure.
Getting There: Free two-hour street parking is abundant on 28th St. at the intersection of R St. From there, it’s a quick few blocks down R St. to Lover’s Lane, which is a pedestrian path right after Montrose Park ends. Follow it to the entrance to Dumbarton Oaks, which will be down on your left.
What to Bring: Since it’s wintertime, be sure to pack water and a drinking bowl for your pup. Most of the shops and areas mentioned do not put water out during winter months. Wear hiking boots or sturdy shoes, since most of the trails are dirt and may be muddy. You’ll also need your own poop bags.
Distance: Create your own loop from 1-6 miles
Distance: Create your own loop from 1-6 miles
Time: 45 min-3 hours
Fido-Friendly Features: Streams, woods, other dogs. Treats available at Dog Tag.
Use: Hikers, walkers, bikers (on Rock Creek Trail), dogs
Best Time to go: Daytime. There are no lights at the parks listed. Dumbarton Oaks Park is open sunup to sundown.
Rated: 1 paw. Easy.