This 4-mile loop hike travels through the forest and along the creek. President Theodore Roosevelt frequented this area of the park 100 years ago.
Directions from Rock Creek Park Nature Center and PlanetariumBegin by Parking at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium, located at 5200 Glover Road Northwest Washington, DC. If the parking there is full you can park at either Picnic Grove #13 (located at the split for Ridge and Glover roads near Military Rd) or in the parking area for the Maintenance Yard located at 5000 Glover Road NW.
- Exit the Nature Center and turn left out the door. Walk back through the parking lot toward the Rock Creek Park Horse Center.
- Take a sharp left into the Horse Center complex and keep left.
- Walk past the small parking lot and gray barn towards the outdoor corrals. Look for the dirt trail to the left of the corral fence. This is the trail head for the White Horse Trail.
- Stay straight on the path (do not take the split to the right). Walk down the hill towards the creek (roughly half a mile). You will come to a roadway, this is Ross Drive at Picnic Grove #22.
- Cross Ross Drive and follow the dirt path as it parallels the roadway towards Beach Drive (to the right)
- Take a right just before the automobile bridge that crosses Rock Creek.
- Heading downstream, listen to the fast-flowing water—i.e., rapids. This is the fall zone, a geologic transition zone where the Piedmont Plateau (harder rock) meets the Atlantic Coastal Plain (softer, sedimentary rock).
- After hiking along the creek for a half mile, enjoy the view from the center of Rapids Bridge
- Cross Rapids Bridge.
- Turn right on Beach Drive and follow Rock Crek downstream. This will provide you with a beautiful panorama of Boulder Bridge.
- Cross Boulder Bridge and stay on Beach Drive until you come to the gates at the intersection with Broad Branch Road. The trails returning to the Nature Center will be in the trees behind you and to the right. You will see a small white four way sign in the grass. The trailhead to come north is just beyond it.
- Follow the signs for the Western Ridge Trail and take it north back towards the Rock Creek Park Nature Center. You will follow the light green blazes.
- Walk by the horse turn-out at equitation field. Follow the “foot traffic only” signs when the trail veers off the wider horse trail.
- After ¾ of a mile, the trail seems to end at Picnic Grove 13 and a grassy field. Cross the field and the two roads. Hike up the hill to the Nature Center.