Ever wonder about that canal that runs through Georgetown? That's the C&O Canal — short for Chesapeake & Ohio — and it's part of a national park that follows the Potomac River and runs through 184.5 miles of D.C., Maryland, and West Virginia. If you’re into biking, hiking, running, or any number of fall leisure activities — like boat rides, leaf-peeping, and picnics — then this is the spot for you. One tip for hikers: Check out the Billy Goat Trail on the Maryland side, because it’s a local favorite. Just be sure to watch your step.
On the Virginia side of the Potomac sits the ever-beautiful Great Falls Park, ideal for hikers, bikers, and climbers. If the 15 miles of hiking trails, multiple climbing sites, and five miles of biking trails aren’t incentive enough, go for the breathtaking views of the falls themselves. The view changes with the seasons, so schedule a few trips to make sure you don’t miss out.
Attention, thrill-seeking hikers: The nine-mile trek up Old Rag Mountain is one of Shenandoah National Park’s most challenging trails, but also the most popular. We suggest bringing lots of water, some snacks, and your game face; if you're really up for an adventure, start the hike before dawn so you can reach the summit before the crowds arrive.
Photo: Courtesy of National Park Service