Ready, set, hike

Hike 1: Western Ridge Trail, Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park

Hike 1: Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC

John Muir once said: “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…” I believe when he said this, he was referring to type-A personality moms who, like myself, have an unrealistic view on what it means to get out of the house with a child.

Stroller Rating

Stroller Rating: 4 out of 4 strollers. We took a path that needed a body carrier, but there are paved paths that any type of stroller would do great on.

It’s our first official hike-in-training and I have a plan: Get baby up, play with baby, feed baby, change baby, quietly get baby and gear into car, and head to the trail. Plans are good: they keep us sane and organized, they help us establish a routine, and most importantly, they are meant to be followed. Apparently, plans and my son haven’t yet become fully acquainted.

That’s OK, because the key to all of this is to focus on the fact that we actually made it out of the house. Consider this adventure a success already!

Off we go to Rock Creek Park to walk the Western Ridge Trail for our very first hike.

The weather is beautiful at 60 degrees and sunny. As we enter the park and begin to twist and turn through the tree-lined street, making our way to parking, Christine and I ask ourselves a question that we will continue to ask throughout the morning: Why have we never come hiking here before now? It’s beautiful and at 9AM fairly quiet.

We decide to park at the horse stables where riders are beginning their morning horse duties and parking is abundant. You could also park at the Nature Center to pick up the trail where we started as they are virtually next to one another.

Since we aren’t sure which paths we’ll decide to follow once we start, I go with the Ergo Carrier today, but really you could use any variety of carriers. There are paved paths throughout, along with dirt paths that jut off through the sun-soaked woods so whether you have an infant, toddler or you’re a parent to the four-legged variety, all options work for this hike.

Of course, before we can start, we need one more diaper change, a bottle, and a bit of a bounce to ensure a happy baby. But then, off we go along the Western Ridge Trail.

With the freedom of having RJ attached me, about a mile into the hike we veer off along a footpath through the woods and follow the creek. It’s a beautiful, freeing morning. The trail is filled with singing birds, the sound of flowing water, and as the morning progresses, a handful of ambitious joggers.

The trail

The Western Ridge Trail is paved for the most part but there are side trails you can take that are dirt covered and a bit more rigorous.

For hiking in the park, be sure to wear shoes that have some traction if you’re planning to take the dirt path route. There are quite a few steep inclines and declines so if it has rained the day before, leaves could be slick. A walking stick wouldn’t hurt either as you’re working your way downhill. Otherwise, if you’re carrying a tiny human on your front you’ll be doing squats to get yourself down without falling.

While we didn’t fully follow our intended hike, we hit the desired 4.7 miles and got a better workout than anticipated considering the constant shift in hills. Doing this hike in cooler weather is great, but with all the tree coverage you could manage it well in the DC summer heat too. Although, I would absolutely be sure to have water for you and a bottle prepared for the baby.

Interested in hiking the park? The Western Ridge Trail is just one of many marked trails at Rock Creek Park. There are countless trails, various points of entry and even guided hikes for those seeking some ranger education. Check out http://www.nps.gov/rocr/index.htm for all the latest happening, trails and hours.

One thought on “Ready, set, hike

  1. Bill Williams says:

    Sounds like you guys had some fun! Theres a nice trail up here in Pa. that Mon and I used to hike— and still do occasionally. Its called the NCR Trail (Northern Central Railroad) and runs from Hunt Valley to York, Pa.,about 40 miles. Since it was a railroad at one time, its a fairly flat, easy grade. I really enjoyed hiking there while recovering from surgery back in ’09, and what really makes it special is that my dad used to run freight trains to York in the 50’s and 60’s. The trail runs alongside the Little Gunpowder Falls and there are lots of neat places to go fishing. You can still see remnants of the railroad, such as signals, mile markers, and whistle boards. The tracks are gone but if you listen closely, you can sometimes hear the rumbling of the diesels and a road crossing whistle warning! I took Bruce and Susan there when they were up for the HS reunion last year and we had a good time. Maybe you and Ryan can visit and we’ll check it out! Enjoy your hikes and give RJ a hug for me. Love you all, Uncle Billy.

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