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big tree on the side of the trail, maybe a poplar
Milkhouse Ford Hike
Closest available address
5200 Glover Rd NW, Washington, D.C. 20015
Daylight hours are best.
Best time to visit
Summer, Fall, Spring
District of Columbia
The Milkhouse Ford Hike is a 1.75 mile hike in Rock Creek Park, a 1,700 acre national park. Most of the trail is in a thick deciduous forest full of oak, elm, maple and poplar trees. There are some modest hills and ravines in places, but the portion of the trail which parallels Rock Creek is more open and level. The trail also passes by Fort DeRussy, a small Civil War fort.
Rock Creek Park was created in 1890 by the US government. It’s one of the main recreational areas in Washington, DC. The primary section of the park is in the northern part of the city; a thinner strip parallels Rock Creek in downtown and to where the creek meets the Potomac River. This is also where a boat rental shop is located. Much of the park is forested, and hiking options abound with over 32 miles of trails. Other recreational options include horseback riding, bicycling, boating, tennis and golf. In addition to the nature center, there is a historic mill, and Civil War sites. An amphitheater can seat 3,700 people and hosts free summertime concerts.
The parking area at the nature center is close to the trailhead, and so it was easy to also check out the nature center/museum. Live planetarium shows are offered here on weekends. There were exhibits on natural habitats, plants and animals. Also, a few live animals such as snakes, turtles and fish were displayed. Factor in an extra 40 minutes if you want to see the museum.
After crossing the street from the nature center, you can either veer left or right on the trail. Both routes will eventually take you to Rock Creek, but if you want to see the fort first, you should go right. Also, if you go right you will be able to walk down a steeper hill rather than having to walk up it on the return. The hill is not that challenging, but it may get your heart beating at a faster clip. Trail conditions were good; there was little if any clutter. Signage though was confusing. Even with a trail map, it was not always clear which direction to head. Once you get to the creek part of the trail though it’s clearer and also more picturesque. A number of joggers and bickers frequented this area which also has a paved road. There was a historic cabin, but it was not open. On the way back, the earthern fort was small and overgrown, but there was an interpretive sign. You have to use your imagination to visualize how the fort may have looked during the Civil War. Aside from some confusing trail options, this hike was pleasant. It was relaxing, quiet, and private. It's a solid choice for quality recreation in a natural setting and with the added bonus of a nearby informative nature center.
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