Located at 6th and I Streets SW, two blocks from the SW Waterfront metro station, the SW Duck Pond park is a peaceful urban retreat for local residents, nearby office workers, and students of an adjacent school. Dating back to 1972, the pond was inspired by the regional landscapes of the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River. Its main feature is a large pond with four fountains, its naturalistic shoreline broken by three promontories edged with river rocks and planted with native riparian plants. The interior of the park is planted with large shade trees and lined by low brick retaining walls, which give it a sense of enclosure. Over the years, the duck pond has endured neglect, with its water often green from algae. Fortunately, the park has proved to be a labor of love and care for the community it serves. Through a partnership with DPR, the local neighbors brought the park back to life and helps maintain it. Now it’s a lively and charming spot in the neighborhood with frequent visits from dog walkers, runners, and readers. Quack tip: To increase your chance to see those ducklings, they often come out early in the morning.
The southern trailhead is located off of Beach Drive near the intersection of Piney Branch Parkway. It snakes it’s way North through the park for ~5 miles, making it ~10 miles round trip. It is ~2 miles from the southern trailhead to Military Road. North of Military Road the trail turns into a horse path until it's end at Boundary Bridge, the DC/MD border. The northern half of the trail stays pretty distant from most roads, offering some of the most solitary parts of the path. The northern trailhead ends at the northern trailhead of the Valley Trail, a perfect place to continue the loop back down towards the city for a longer trail run.
Without doubt, Western Ridge Trail is one of my favorite spots to feel completely disconnected from the city. At a point in the trail leading up to the Rock Creek horse pasture, there’s a giant fallen tree that calls to the curious, “Balance your way across me”. Many times when on a run, I’ll take a slight detour to do just that. However, this is also the location where a dear friend broke her leg following my lead, so consider yourself warned.
FRIDAY OCT. 7 | 7:30 - 9:30 AM
Trail Ranger Coffee Hour @ MTB TRAIL
Stop by the Metropolitan Branch Trail on the way to work for a free coffee, a high five, and a chat with fellow riders, and WABA Trail Rangers!
SATURDAY OCT. 8 | 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
The White House Garden Tour @ THE WHITE HOUSE
The White House opens its grounds for visitors twice a year to get a glimpse of Jackie Kennedy's rose garden, Michelle Obama's kitchen garden (the first vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s time), and the south lawn. Tickets are free and distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion. It’s a very well-attended event, so expect security measures and lines.
SATURDAY, OCT. 8 | 1:00 – 4:00 PM
Under the Arbor: Chile Peppers @ NATIONAL HERB GARDEN
Hot, hotter, and hottest! Taste-test a variety of peppers, sample chile-based foods, watch live demonstrations, and pick up informational materials at this annual event celebrating the cultivation and use of chile peppers. Explore the National Herb Garden’s extensive collection of over 60 varieties, including some of the world’s hottest peppers. The Under the Arbor series presents informal, drop-in demonstrations on herb-related topics in the National Herb Garden. Presented by members of the Mid-Atlantic Units of the Herb Society of America.
SUNDAY OCT. 9 | 3:00 - 8:30 PM
Family Fun Day @ FREDERICK DOUGLAS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Enjoy a fun afternoon of games, living history programs, music, dramatic performances, house tours, kids' crafts, and more at Cedar Hill, the last home of Frederick Douglass! All activities are free and family-friendly. See the event schedule here.