How to Enjoy a Self-Guided Walk in Washington, DC

National Zoo Washington DC
National Zoo Washington DC. PNC/Stockbyte/Getty Images

When you are touring Washington, DC you can enjoy the walking routes created by the clubs of the American Volkssport Association. The DC National Zoo/National Cathedral Walk #552 and the Georgetown Walk #1395 were often voted as two of the Top Ten Walks in the USA by walkers in their yearly national poll.

The walks are hosted by the Seneca Valley Sugarloafers Volksmarch Club. They are two of over 1400 year-round walking routes hosted by AVA walking clubs throughout the USA.

The club modifies and improves the chosen walking routes yearly.

National Zoo and National Cathedral Walk

This year-round self-guided walk tours past the Washington National Cathedral and its lovely Bishop's Garden, designed by Frederic Law Olmstead who designed New York's Central Park (also a Top Ten Walk). The Gothic cathedral is home to the Episcopal Diocese of of Washington. See the gargoyles and join in one of the free 30-minute guided tours.

Then on to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, which has free admission. The 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) is rated an easy/moderate difficulty, mostly on paved surfaces. For those who only want to visit the Zoo, a 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) route is provided.

If you wish to enjoy a longer walk of 20 kilometers or an alternate 10K walk, the club provides a map to tour the Adams Morgan neighborhood.

Enjoy great architecture, history and dining in the area.

  • Pets are not allowed in either the Cathedral or the Zoo.
  • Plan your walk also around the hours the Zoo is open. While the grounds open at 6 am, the buildings do not open until 10 am. The National Zoo is closed December 25 each year.

Georgetown Walk

This 10K/11K walk tours Georgetown, one of the most lovely neighborhoods in Washington DC.

It also takes walkers through Georgetown University and through scenic Rock Creek Park. The additional kilometer, which is optional, takes you to the C&O Canal and the Georgetown waterfront at Potomac River.

Registering for the Walks

Walkers can register and pick up maps for three walks that start at McDonald's, 2616 Connecticut Avenue., NW, Washington, DC 20008. The registration box is near the trash receptacles. Sign the log book, pay a fee of $3 for IVV volkssport credit or a similar donation/fee if you do not stamp IVV Record Books. Take a copy of the directions and enjoy the walk. To get there, you can take the Metro subway Red Line to Woodley Park-Zoo / Adams Morgan Station. The McDonald's is adjacent to the Metro elevators.

Changes with start points can occur suddenly, it is wise to check the club website immediately before your visit to find out if the walk is still operating from the same starting place. Changes are also made yearly to the walking routes, check the maps and directions to ensure you have the route you want to enjoy.

Other DC Walking Routes from Same Starting Point

The club provides another year-round walk from this McDonalds. Embassy Walk #553: This walk has three route variations including one 5 kilometer route and two 10 kilometer routes.

The trail goes past many embassies. The two 10 kilometer trails also pass the National Cathedral.

Other Seneca Valley Sugarloafers Walks

The club is based in Gaithersburg, Maryland and hosts walks throughout the region. New members are welcome. The public is welcome on their hosted walking days as well as on their mapped year-round events.