Rock Creek Park Trails

District of Columbia

8 Reviews

View Trail Map
View Map
Send to App

Register for free!

Register for free with TrailLink today!

We're a non-profit all about helping you enjoy the outdoors
  • View over 40,000 miles of trail maps
  • Share your trail photos
  • Save your own favorite trails
  • Learn about new trails near you
  • Leave reviews for trails
  • Add new and edit existing trails

Rock Creek Park Trails Facts

States: District of Columbia
Counties: Washington
Length: 8.5 miles
Trail end points: Wise Rd. NW & Oregon Rd. NW (Washington, D.C.) and Lincoln Memorial, 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW (Washington, D.C.)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 6032439

Rock Creek Park Trails Description


Located in the northwestern neighborhoods of Washington, D.C., Rock Creek Park serves as a lush natural oasis spanning more than 1,700 acres in the bustling heart of the nation’s capital. Established in 1890, it has the distinction of being the oldest and largest urban park in the national park system. The park offers a variety of trails, consisting of a mix of dirt-surfaced paths for hikers, runners, and equestrians, as well as paved paths for bicyclists, wheelchair users, inline skaters, and walkers. The Rock Creek Park Trails offer 8.5 miles of paved multi-use trails that span large sections of the park.

About the Route

The multi-use sections of Rock Creek Park exist in two main sections, but sections of Beach Drive open to bikers and pedestrians can help trail users traverse the whole park. The northern section's main access point is located at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium and forms a loop of the northern section of the park from there. 

One piece of trail heads north, mainly alongside Oregon Ave. NW, passing by the Rock Creek Park Community Garden in its route. This section heads north to Wise Rd. NW, but to continue along the loop, trail users can turn right onto Bingham Rd., where the trail closely parallels the road. Where Bingham Rd. meets Beach Dr., the trail turns south again and the paved path weaves along Beach Rd. This section of trail, while paved, is much narrower than a typical multi-use trail surface, and can be crowded on the weekends. Road traffic is sparse through here, and bikers often share the road with cars.

Along Joyce Ave. NW, the trail crosses Rock Creek and heads back east along Military Dr. to complete this northern loop of the park.

The southern section of the Rock Creek Park Trails has a northern endpoint just below Broad Branch Rd. NW and heads south alongside Rock Creek on a wide asphalt trail. Shortly after this northern endpoint, the trail passes Pierce Mill, a still-operational gristmill from the 1820s. As the trail continues south, it crosses Rock Creek twice in just a mile. This section of the trail also frequently intersects with the hiking-only trails popular in Rock Creek Park, and signs point trail users in the right direction. 

As the trail meanders along with the creek, it passes the Smithsonian National Zoo (which is free year-round). Just after passing one of the zoo entrances, the trail approaches the Beach Drive/Zoo Tunnel. From 7 am to 5 pm every day, the trail diverts users around the tunnel, but if traveling in the evening or morning hours, trail users must navigate the narrow pedestrian sidewalk, which although protected from traffic with a small metal gate, can still be a tight squeeze. 

South of the tunnel, the trail climbs a short hill as it passes underneath the scenic William Howard Taft Bridge and Glover Memorial Bridge that loom hundreds of feet overhead of the trail. Here, the trail crests a small hill and passes the Rock Creek Park Exercise Course.

As the trail approaches Georgetown, both Montrose Park and Oak Hill Cemetery are visible between the trees, high up on the hill across the river. The cemetery's beautiful Civil War-era tombs and mausoleums are visible from the trail, although it would take a steep climb out of the park to access this park.

As the trail approaches its southern end, it loses the wooded serenity that characterizes most of the route. The final southern portion of the trail though is equally as scenic as it takes trail users southeast on the Potomac River with views of Arlington, VA, and Theodore Roosevelt Island, as it approaches the Lincoln Memorial, where the official southern end of Rock Creek Park is located.


The central road of Rock Creek Park, Beach Drive, is mostly closed to car traffic in the northern sections of the park. These sections are open to pedestrians and cyclists alike and intersect often with the Rock Creek Park Trails.

Just after passing under Porter St. NW, the trail intersects with the short but scenic Klingle Valley Trail.

In the Georgetown neighborhood, the Rock Creek Park Trails connect with both the Capital Crescent Trail and the Chesapeake & Ohio National Historical Park

The Rock Creek Park Trails are part of the Great American Rail Trail, a 3,700-mile route from Washington to Washington D.C. 

The Rock Creek Park Trails are part of the Capital Trails Coalition, a series of interconnected trails in the Metropolitan Washington D.C. Region. 


Just after the Pennsylvania Avenue underpass, don’t miss the opportunity to connect to the epic Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath, which follows a northwest course 184.5 miles to Cumberland, Maryland. Look for the narrow brick pathway heading west along the C&O Canal. A scant 0.1 mile farther south, you’ll head under the Whitehurst Freeway; nearby, you can hop on the Capital Crescent Trail, which heads north to Bethesda and Silver Spring. All three trails are part of the developing 800-mile Capital Trails Coalition network, a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy TrailNation project that aims to connect the greater Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

The trail ends less than a mile farther south, a short distance from the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall. This final tip of the trail is part of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Great American Rail Trail, which spans the United States between Washington, D.C., and Washington State.

Parking and Trail Access

The Rock Creek Park Trails run between Wise Rd. NW & Oregon Rd. NW (Washington, D.C.) and Lincoln Memorial, 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW (Washington, D.C.).

Parking is available at:

  • Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium, 5200 Glover Rd NW (Washington, D.C.)
  • 4100 Broad Branch Rd NW (Washington, D.C.)
  • Pierce Mill, 2401 Tilden St NW (Washington, D.C.)

See TrailLink Map for all parking options and detailed directions.

Rock Creek Park Trails Reviews

Wait for the weekends

Much better over the weekend when you go on beach drive with new pavement!

access to routes

I'm new to this app. It looks good but only shows nearby parking. How about those who can only come to bike trail via train or bus. Maybe useful to have nearest metro stops. ( or the number bus that runs by, though maybe that would be more difficult ). At least nearest metro would be helpful. Thanks.

Not for the road cyclist

I guess I can't really say that this is a bad trail, because it isn't. But if you are a road cyclist riding on slicks and hoping for any kind of smooth or speedy ride you probably don't want to use this trail. I found the trail too uneven with too many low spots that are filled with sand/dirt/mud to really get comfortable riding it. It just isn't made for that. Ultimately I jumped on the parkway that the path parallels and was much more comfortable (no bike lane, but speed limits are 25-35 so it is not uber crazy). I was on the road early - 0630 - so YMMV.

All that being said, if you are casually riding, maybe using a mountain bike or hybrid, and not looking for great speeds then this trail should fit your needs just fine.

On a very positive note: the path itself is a great way to get from the northern DC neighborhoods right to the heart of DC. It would be a great path to take in to see the monuments and the Mall.

Nice Park near the City

Some of the signage needs updating but the trail is great. Bikers need to share the trail with hikers. The surface is a little uneven but passable. The angles of rise and fall are minor and the conditions are good.


Out for a Sunday Ride

We rode up from Georgetown to Silver Springs on the Crescent Trail and took this one back to Georgetown. Around Silver Springs area the signage was a little confusing and a couple other sections of the trail, but once on the trail it was wonderful. They shut down the park for the weekend to car so you have the road to yourself and all the other bicyclist. Wonderful views and plenty of photo opportunities. When we got back in DC we took the Pennsylvania Avenue back into Georgetown where we had lunch. Look forward to the next adventure in DC on one of the many other trails available.

osborn 2 ride

I Am not a big fan of urban trails but if you are in the D.C. area put this on your bucket list as it is a great system of trails. On a weekends you can expect to run into lots of Bikers some of them are going way to fast for me. This is a Greenway so there are a few grades to it. Lots of canopy and is family friendly.


This trail is a must if you live in the city or visiting the city since Rock Creek park runs straight through the city so you avoid all that city traffic and ride through the park instead. The trail terminates at the Potomac near the Watergate and from there you can go anywhere, go north under the Whitehurst freeway and go on the Canal path or go south along the fish market and Marina. or cross the Memorial Bridge to go to Mt Vernon with its wooden bridges and stop at the sailing marina for a snack or meal with a view or go north to rosevelt island. On the Va side after crossing the memorial bridge you can go south and after you pass the national airport you can go west to fairfax, or you can keep going south and enjoy the lovely waterfront and the waterfront park in old town. Another enjoyable ride is to go south along the Potomac DC side after the Rock Creek trail terminates at the Potomac and when you come to the Lincoln memorial head east and visit the mall area especially the park in front of the Federal Reserve building and the 3 gardens behind the Smithsonian castle and if in Spring keep going east and up the hill when the Capital grounds are in bloom.

Nice Trail

"I like this trail because it is near my house and I don't need to travel by car to get to it. It's good because I can run straight to the Lincoln Memorial. Also, it goes past the zoo and I can stop in there and take a peek. Running near the water is also nice. Be careful though because there are some wooded areas that are probably not safe in the evenings. Other than that, I really like this trail for running."

Nearby Trails

Go Unlimited Today!

  • FREE Account
  • View over 40,000 miles of trail maps
  • Post your trail reviews
  • Share your trail photos
  • Save your favorite trails
  • Learn about new trails near you
  • Get a free map in the app!
Register for FREE
Purchase Unlimited

Discover History on the Trail

Diplomatic Reception Rooms

In these 42 rooms, members of the U.S. Department of State meet with diplomats, entertain foreign leaders and engage in other activities of...

Trail: Great American Rail-Trail
State: DC
Architecture Politics, Policy & Justice
Braddock's Rock

Named because British General Edward Braddock’s expedition up to Pittsburgh, where he was roundly defeated at Fort Duquesne, purportedly launched from...

Trail: Great American Rail-Trail
State: DC
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine
Elizabeth Arden Building

For 60 years, this six-story Georgian-revival building at 1147 Connecticut Ave. was the home of the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon—the place where...

Trail: Rock Creek Park Trails
State: DC
Architecture Commerce, Economy & Work Gender, Sexuality & Queerness Women's History
See All History

Discovering America: Reconnecting People and Places

The Great American Rail-Trail promises an all-new American experience. Through 12 states and the District of Columbia, the trail will directly serve nearly 50 million people within 50 miles of the route. Across the nation—and the world—only the limits of imagination will limit its use.

Learn More

Explore by City

Explore by City

Explore by Activity

Explore by Activity

Log in to your account to:

  • View trail paths on the map
  • Save trails to your account
  • Add trails, edit descriptions
  • Share photos
  • Add reviews

Log in with Google

Log in with Apple


Register for free!

Join TrailLink (a non-profit) to view more than 40,000 miles of trail maps and more!

Register with Google

Register with Apple


Your account has been deleted.