Take a Hike! That’s Right. Keep it Movin’!
By: David Gignilliat

You heard it right. Tuesday, November 17th is National Take a Hike Day, and is a great opportunity to spend even more quality time with your dog on a vigorous walk. So whether you just go for a long walk in your neighborhood, try a new route at the park, or choose a scene-stealing hike through one of Northern Virginia’s distinctive trails, the choice is clear … Just take a hike.

Before you go, here are a few tips for planning a perfect hike:

  1. Bring plenty of water for you and the dog
  2. Check signs for local leash laws
  3. Be aware of your surroundings (other dogs, bikes, impediments)

For the more adventurous, here are a pair of unique trails just a hop, skip, jump (and a brief car ride) away from your usual streets and walkways.

Scotts Run Nature Preserve
7400 Georgetown Pike, McLean, Va.

Nestled along the Potomac River, this trail offers a little bit of everything. Waterfalls, beautiful vistas, ruins and spring wildflowers that suggest a solitude that belies its distance just minutes from Washington DC. Most of the trail runs along river or stream (Scotts Run), and is often muddy. The trail is dog-friendly, but steep in parts at eight miles, making it better suited for the more experienced hiker as it is one of the more challenging circuits in the area.

Mount Vernon Trail
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Alexandria, VA

Opened initially in 1972 as a gravel path, this scenic trail cuts (now paved) through portions of Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County. The path is mostly flat, with unique potential stops at Old Towne Alexandria, Four Mile Run and watching the planes at Reagan National Airport.. If you start at Mount Vernon, take a tour of the beautiful property. George Washington was a documented dog-lover himself, and the Mount Vernon staff even offers a dog-tailored four-legged walking tour, appropriately titled “All The Presidents’ Pups.

So let your fingers do the walking with these useful links, and start planning your hike with this weekend.

General Tips:
http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hiking-dogs.html
http://www.backpacker.com/skills/beginner/the-manual-take-your-dog-hiking/

More Northern Virginia Trail Ideas:
http://www.hikewithyourdog.com/Articles/Top10NOVA.html
http://www.amazon.com/Doggin-Northern-Virginia-Best-Places/dp/0978562240