Brunch and a hike within an hour of Washington, DC?
February 24, 2014 8:48 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I would like to spend a nice Saturday going for a hike with our dog (nothing too taxing - we want to enjoy the outdoors, not get a workout) and also go for brunch in a charming small town nearby. We live in DC and would prefer not to drive more than an hour each way to get there. Any suggestions??
posted by fso to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Harper's Ferry? That might be a bit more than an hour to get to, but fits your other parameters nicely.

Much closer to home, how about Great Falls park (on the Virginia side)?
posted by killdevil at 8:52 AM on February 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Hiking at Sugarloaf Mountain (they have trails for all skill levels), then head into downtown Frederick for brunch and walking around. It should be about a 45 minute drive to Sugarloaf and then an hour home from Frederick. Tons of restaurants there, though someone else may be better suited to recommend a brunch spot (Volt has a $35 tasting menu for brunch if you guys are foodie types, but coming from hiking maybe you want something more casual).
posted by windbox at 9:15 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you're more thinig "strolling" than "hiking," the W&OD runs through a number of towns/suburbs of varying size and is easy to get to.

The C&O is I think more off-leash friendly, but less immediately accessible to brunch places. Look in the Potomac-to-Poolesville area. (It's also not far from Sugarloaf Mountain, as suggested upthread.)
posted by psoas at 9:27 AM on February 24, 2014

Have you checked out All Trails yet? The Billy Goat Trail is the traditional close-to-DC hike if you haven't done it.

Personally, I'd head in the direction of Ellicott City. What do you plan to do with the dog during brunch?
posted by 0 at 9:46 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Burke Lake is a good place to hike with the dog. It's about a five mile hike, but it's quite level so it's a nice walk rather than a climb. Plenty of other dogs around to play with.

What it doesn't do is get you near nice charming places for brunch. Burke is kind of Nova suburban sprawly.

Middleburg (west of DC out Route 50) is a nice charming little town full of cool little restaurants and horse farms, but I'm not aware of anywhere to hike around there.

I'm not coming up with too much that offers both right now.
posted by Naberius at 9:47 AM on February 24, 2014

Go to The Main Cup In Middletown, MD for brunch, and then drive 10 minutes to Gambrill State Park and pick your hiking trail.
posted by imjustsaying at 10:18 AM on February 24, 2014

Good answers so far! My suggestions have already been mentioned above, so I'll detail them a bit more.

Great Falls
> Hiking: A DC classic, this is the best hiking close to the city. Most on the Virginia side are easy. On the Maryland side of the park, I would recommend Billy Goat Trails B and C which are moderately easy as well (Billy Goat A is a bit more taxing; in fact, I recently sprained my ankle on it). The benefit of hiking in Great Falls are the beautiful canals, the view of the Potomac River from atop the cliffs, and the stunning geology along the way.
> Food: There are a few good options close by. If you're looking for a truly extraordinary meal (and willing to pay for it) I recommend L’Auberge Chez Francois, which is 5 miles from Great Falls. For something a bit more casual yet still delicious, I recommend Old Brogue Irish Pub, about 2 miles from the park. They have outdoor seating which would be perfect for your dog if the weather allows.

Sugar Loaf Mountain
> Hiking: This is a recent find of mine! There are many trails intersecting Sugar Loaf Mountain, making a personalized hike easy and fun. Another benefit is the varied difficulties of the trails across this mountain; you can make the hike as easy or as difficult as you prefer, and can also easily bail out on any trail for a more accessible one, since the paths cross one another so often.
> Food: Frederick is quite close to Sugar Loaf, and there are many yummy options to choose from! For the high end, I'll second windbox's recommendation of Volt. For a casual option, I highly recommend a.k.a. Frisco's! Their sandwiches and loaded potatoes are to die for, and they have outside seating for the pup. Seriously, I am always looking for reasons to go to Frederick so I can get a.k.a. Frisco's.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by horizonseeker at 10:20 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Old Angler's Inn is charming, and there are hikes on the C&O canal toepath in that area - you can walk to the restaurant, if I remember correctly.
posted by mercredi at 10:44 AM on February 24, 2014

Not sure Billy Goat is really accessible for a dog; not a hard hike, but there are a few areas where you're basically jumping across boulders.

Another vote for Sugarloaf. Plus there's a winery or two on your way back, if that's your thing.
posted by inigo2 at 12:09 PM on February 24, 2014

I hike a lot around DC and while there are a lot of suggestions here for close in areas around the city I think you'd enjoy getting out just a bit further towards the limit of your hour drive.

1) Antietam National Battlefield - a very casual walk that is dog friendly, enjoy the Civil War information if you wish or just enjoy the walk. You drive through a number of small towns along the way, Boonsboro for example, or Frederick is always terrific.

2) Wye Island on the eastern shore. Trail guide here Lots of brunch places along the water close to the bridge or Annapolis.

3) Urban "hike" at the National Arboretum. Brunch at Union Market.
posted by firetruckred at 12:30 PM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fredericksburg VA has a 5K urban trail that winds through town along the river and a canal that was originally surveyed by George Washington. The historic downtown is full of antique shops and non-chain places to eat or get a drink. There is also a ton of history to immerse yourselves in. It should be exactly an hour from DC on the weekend with I-95 moving at something approaching the speed limit.
posted by COD at 6:01 PM on February 24, 2014

Another option, if you're interested....

Walk the Capital Crescent trail from Georgetown up to Bethesda.

It's wooded, pretty, has nice views. If the weather is good then there will be lots of cyclists, but it's still a nice walk. In the early mornings, you're likely to see deer.

The top of the trail in Bethesda is a block from a number of excellent eating spots for brunch, including a Belgian place called the Mussel Bar, which is a favorite of Mrs. Thistledown and I.

Bonus: no driving!
posted by Thistledown at 7:22 AM on February 25, 2014

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