Stumbling Upon Rock Creek Park


Last weekend I had one of my usual cravings for Taco Bell. Instead of hitting my usual spot on 14th Street I decided to hit the one on Connecticut Avenue in Van Ness. I had a beef mexi melt and a nachos supreme washed down with a Dr. Pepper. Delicious. But I mention this because I ended up stumbling down Tilden Street in post T-bell ecstasy. What amazed me was that ten minutes ago I was on busy Connecticut Avenue and the next thing I knew I wound up in beautiful Rock Creek Park. I often hit the park in the warmer months but it was so refreshing to explore a bit in near solitude. The creek itself was amazing. I even spotted a little waterfall that had me mesmerized.


Continues after the jump.


In addition to the beauty of the park itself you’ll also encounter some super cool old stone homes (mills).

The house above was built in 1801:


Here’s another cool one:


And of course there is Pierce Mill right before you enter the park.


So the next time you are craving some Taco Bell or just feel like a bit of an adventure in Rock Creek Park, head over to Connecticut Ave, turn right (east) on Tilden Street and enjoy!

21 Comment

  • I was reading this and was like “what the hell is wrong with POP” then i realized this story is about you being High. I have a whole new respect for you.

  • say it aint so pop!

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Sorry to dissapoint but in certain circles it is a well known fact – I genuinely love Taco Bell.

  • and now i have a whole new respect for you 🙂

    on top of the undying love that i already had for you, that is…

  • I just wish there was a good walking path along one of the streets that cuts through Rock Creek Park (rather than going along the path that runs parallel). The last time I cut through, I was walking up on a curb with very little room between the curvy road and me. If there is a good way to cut through the park on foot, maybe someone can post that info.

  • Not to mention the SWEET houses on the way into the park.

  • Try the path that starts behind the sitting bench immediately to the North of 3701 Connecticut Avenue. Walk down the loading dock of the 3701 building (Conn and Rodman) and you’ll wind down the hill to a little creek that in about 10 minutes leads you to rock creek and a very nice picnic area.

    I used to do this all the time when I lived in Cleveland Park. Perfect short walk to the park.

  • I always thought. now hear me out on this. a pedestrian bridge would be amazing. perhaps from Mount Pleasant to Cleveland Park. would really connect east and west of the park for pedestrians and bikes. as it is now the walking down into the park and back up out of it on porter just adds a lot of time and I know a lot of walkers-bikers dont even do it just for the hill. Would be awesome to walk across a pedestrian bridge to the uptown theater right? lets be honest though. the west siders would do everything in their power to keep us east siders from having easy access.

  • Anyone know of where to find a good map of footpaths and bike trails in RCP? I haven’t lived here that long and would love to explore the paths but I can’t really figure out where to find a trailhead. I’ve looked on the NPS website but their maps aren’t that detailed.

  • I have a question is for the ladies — do you generally feel safe walking alone around Rock Creek Park? Are there particular paths that are better for a woman walking/jogging around solo? Every time I think about walking in Rock Creek I think of poor Chandra Levy and the crazy looking guy I saw emerging from the Park one day I walked to the Zoo last fall.

  • The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club does the definitive Rock Creek Park map. Every single trail, every single road, elevation, landmarks, distances, everything. If you want to get to know the Park, it’s indispensable. I’ve been running and cycling in the Park for years and this map introduced me to whole sections of the Park I’d never found on my own.

    I think I picked mine up at REI, but you might be able to order it from their website.

  • DC_Chica: I think about the same thing whenever I’m in RCP! Unfortunately, I don’t live in the immediate area that this blog writes to, as I live way over on Foxhall Road. I usually run on the Glover-Archbald trail from Reservior Road up to Wisconsin, and cut through Cleveland Park to the Melvin B. Hazen tributary trail and into Rock Creek Park.

    I always feel safe on the Glover-Archbald trail because it is crosses over many roads and there are no steep slopes on the sides of the trail. There are many houses surrounding the trails, and lots of people walking dogs. Melvin B. Hazen is usually quiet. As for RCP, I stick to the roads for probably the same reasons you do. They are closed on the weekends and packed with runners and bikers, and can be just as nice as the trails.

    I hope this helps! Have you found any trails you feel safe on around the city? Would love to know!


    not tellling: I learned most of the trails through running groups. Most of the running stores sponsor free group runs and they welcome all distances and paces. I’ve been to the groups at Georgetown Running Co and it usually has a great turn out.

  • Around the turn of the century before they built the bridges across Rock Creek above the Duke Ellingto Bridge, the only way to cross was to ford the creek at the shallows. I’ve got old pics of Model Ts riding across those shallows with people on horseback. There’s also a little log cabin style building off the creek that used to be located where Malcom X Park is now. It belonged to some settler/poet/old coot and the National Park Service dismantled and moved it to its current location.

  • DC_Chica: I moved here last year, and right after I did the post ran that 12 part series on Chandra Levy. I have never set foot in Rock Creek Park as a result. Granted, I am an extremely paranoid person. I realize I’m missing out on one of the cities great resources. Maybe if I had a running buddy I could brave it!

  • DC Chica – I would not go off the main bike path without company (the unpaved “running” trails). It’s just not a good idea–you never do know who is out there, and they tend to get pretty remote. I think Sammy is a bit over-paranoid, however…you are probably okay on the paved path during daylight hours, given that there is a steady stream of foot/bicycle/car traffic right there most of the time. Obviously if it feels remote and unsafe then it may be just that, and you have to trust your instincts…I’ve never been comfortable on porter street between Mt P and Cleveland Park myself, because it is so often deserted and seems isolated. That said, I’ve walked it alone plenty of times with no problems. If you’re worried about jogging/walking alone, then try biking the path and that should be okay.

    Rock Creek Park is one of the best things about living in DC! (Sammy – get a friend and do some exploring!)

  • The map on this link has a pretty good layout of the trails – not all inclusive, but a good guide:

    Personal favorites include Pulpit Rock and the Ft. DeRussey areas.

  • I know I’m showing my age here, but there were fords to cross back in the 60s when I was a kid and we’d drive into DC or go to the zoo. I remember our car driving over the fords. It was so cool that we’d be driving over a little bit of water on the road. It was somewhere in Rock Creek Park. I was just a kid and don’t remember exactly where, but I remember the water.

  • Chloe: I remember that as late at the ’80’s. There was at least one ford off Beach Dr just north of Military Rd. Folks used to wash cars there until everyone got slightly more enviro-conscious and realized washing soap down the creek wasn’t such a good idea.

  • Thanks for the advice! LJG, I used to live on Foxhall too. I never ventured very far into Glover Park when I lived there, I used to cut over to the C&O canal path and walk up to the boat landing or down to Georgetown (I seem to recall that they had bicycle cops going up and down the trail occassionally, which I appreciated).

  • Perhaps I’m psycho or something, but I run all the time thru the northern parts of Rock Creek Park–from MtP where I live all the way up well past Ft DeRussy–anywhere from 9 pm to 4 am, lit only by moonlight, and I don’t think I’ve ever even seen another person in there, much less anything to be scared of. I’m a guy though and am in great shape. I do see lots of foxes and deer though.

  • DC_Chica-

    Count me as one lady who’s a little sketched out to be alone off the main path in Rock Creek Park- I’ve done it a few times on walks and jogs, but never without “chandra levy, chandra levy, chandra levy” running through my brain. It’s great with a friend, but some parts are quite remote/private/hidden- yet easy accessible to just about anyone with less than virtuous plans.

    On a lighter note- one time I was walking alone on the main path, I turned a corner to discover some naked dude bathing in the creek. He looked up right as I looked up and we both had a “whoa- uh, sorry” type of moment. As if I had just walked into his bathroom. And that wasn’t what I could have considered “off the beaten path.”

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