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Azaleas!

Yeah, I know – 8:00 am is like the crack of dawn or something on a Saturday. But there’s good reason for an early start: not only is this weekend the peak bloom for azaleas, but the Arboretum scheduled the Potomac Bonsai Festival on top of it, so the place will be very crowded every day starting around 9:00 am. Let’s get in first thing for some quality time with the azaleas without having to elbow our way around.

The route:

We'll start with a stroll through the Azalea Collection along Azalea and Eagle Nest Roads and into the network of woodland trails that follows the contours of Mount Hamilton. Since the priority is on enjoying and photographing the azaleas, don't expect a challenging pace at this point.

After we've gotten an eyeful of azaleas, we'll pick up the pace and walk east for a loop around Beechwood, Crabtree, Ellipse, and Valley Roads, visit the National Capitol Columns, and end the walk at the Herb Garden, convenient to the Bonsai/Penjing Museum and the Koi Pond.

Total walk distance is at least 4 miles, given the extra wandering through the gardens. Plan for around two hours for the total visit. The path is a mix of paved and fine gravel/wood chips, with hills and some steps here and there.

A Google Map of the approximate walking route is here: http://tinyurl.com/cjhkcuh

The Arboretum page with a map of the grounds is at http://tinyurl.com/2r2gc8

How to get there (from the Arboretum’s directions page at http://tinyurl.com/3yueul):

  • From Northwest Washington - Follow New York Avenue east to the intersection of Bladensburg Road. Turn right (south) onto Bladensburg Road and go 4 blocks to R Street. Make a left on R Street and continue 2 blocks to the Arboretum gates.
    From the Maryland suburbs - Take the Capital Beltway (I 495/I 95) to exit 22B (Baltimore Washington Parkway) towards Washington. Follow the Baltimore Washington Parkway approximately 7 miles to Route 50 West (New York Avenue). Once on Route 50 get in your left lane. You will approach the intersection of Bladensburg Road where only the two left lanes turn onto Bladensburg Road. Make the left onto Bladensburg Road and go 4 blocks to R Street. Make a left on R Street and continue 2 blocks to the Arboretum gates.
  • From Virginia (I 395) - Follow I 395 North over the 14th Street Bridge. Bear right at the end of the bridge to follow signs to 395 North. Continue to follow signs to 395 North (the lanes for 395 are to the right--pay attention). The 395 lanes go under a tunnel at 3rd Street. Continue following signs for 395 North. The tunnel will dead end at New York Avenue, where all lanes are forced to turn right. Continue on New York Avenue until the major intersection with Bladensburg Road (there will be large green traffic signs overhead; also, it's about 2.5 miles from the end of the freeway to the right turn on Bladensburg). Turn right onto Bladensburg Road and go 4 blocks to R Street. Make a left on R Street and continue 2 blocks to the Arboretum gates.
  • From Virginia (I 95 - I 295) - Follow I 95 North and cross the Wilson Bridge. Stay in the right lane over the bridge. Bear onto I 95/I 295 North to Washington. Follow I 295 to the exit for Route 50 West (New York Avenue). Once on Route 50 get in your left lane. You will approach the intersection of Bladensburg Road where only the two left lanes turn onto Bladensburg Road. Make the left onto Bladensburg Road and go 4 blocks to R Street. Make a left on R Street and continue 2 blocks to the Arboretum gates.
  • From Virginia (I 66) - Cross the Roosevelt Bridge and follow Constitution Avenue past the Capitol Building. Bear left onto Maryland Avenue. Follow Maryland Avenue to Bladensburg Road. Make a left onto Bladensburg Road and travel 1 mile to R Street. Make a right onto R Street and continue 2 block to the Arboretum gates.
  • The approximate street address to the gate is 2371 R St NE, Washington, DC 20002, GPS =[masked],[masked]

Parking: The main parking lot is on the left just past Hickey Lane. If that lot is full, there's more parking south along Eagle Nest Road.

What to bring: Water, comfy shoes, your furry friend if desired (leashes are required), and perhaps an extra layer for the morning chill. The forecast is sunny so consider sunglasses and sunscreen. A camera is a great idea!

Administrative stuff: Both the Visitor Center and the Arbor House have drinking fountains and restrooms. There are also porta-johns positioned south of the Visitor Center.

US National Arboretum: http://www.usna.usda.gov/

Join or login to comment.

  • A former member
    A former member

    I will sign up for the water lilies. Thank you.

    1 · May 7, 2013

  • John M

    Thanks to everyone for sharing all the wonderful photos! What a talented bunch!! :)

    Water lilies and lotus reach peak bloom in late May/early June at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, so plan on a similar early morning visit there, to be scheduled 5-7 days in advance of a weekend when the weather forecast looks good.

    http://www.nps.gov/keaq/index.htm

    3 · May 7, 2013

  • Radhika

    Beautiful

    1 · May 6, 2013

  • John M

    Fun bunch, beautiful day! Thanks for a great time!

    2 · May 4, 2013

    • Laura

      Thanks for coordinating! It was great!

      2 · May 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I look forward to many more excursions.

    1 · May 5, 2013

  • Diana B.

    Nice meeting everyone and it was an awesome excursion. Thanks John for coordinating!

    3 · May 5, 2013

  • Margret

    Fabulous! Wonderful walk, beautiful weather, great company. Who could ask for anything more? Thanks again for organizing another fun walk.

    2 · May 5, 2013

  • Mark O.

    Thanks as always John for a great hike!

    2 · May 4, 2013

  • Ellen

    Thanks John for the ride and wonderful Meetup today. Beautiful weather and company!

    2 · May 4, 2013

  • Olga

    Wonderful Meetup! The National Arboretum in DC is Awesome . . . I had never been there before and am so glad I experienced it. Thank you John!!

    2 · May 4, 2013

  • Ana C.

    It was my first walk. I guess we lost each other at the end Hope to make another one

    2 · May 4, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Five Star walk in the National Arboretum park. We walked, talked, photographed, enjoyed the sights at a good pace. I greatly enjoyed the walk and the distance we walked was perfect.

    2 · May 4, 2013

  • Skysusan

    Such a wonderful event! Sky

    May 4, 2013

  • Kevin D.

    Lame I know but I plead morning narcolepsy.

    May 4, 2013

  • Diana B.

    Armor house is on right as come in gate. Sign says arborhoise and gift shop. Walkers get in. Cars wait till 8 it looks like. Beautiful day.

    May 4, 2013

  • Shela C. T.

    John, When you say "Arbor House" is that the little gift shop/bathrooms building just to the right once you've driven inside the R Street entrance -- where the tourist trams start?

    May 3, 2013

    • John M

      "We'll meet in front of the Arbor House, to your right as you enter the gate. GPS =[masked],[masked]"­

      1 · May 3, 2013

  • John M

    I'll be happy to give up to three passengers a ride up from the King Street Metro Station. (No dogs, please.) Leave me a reply or send me an email if interested.

    1 · April 30, 2013

    • Susan C

      May I ride with you too Sky if there is still room?

      May 2, 2013

    • Skysusan

      Sure thing Susan C... sky

      May 2, 2013

  • Carl

    I can give up to 3 people a ride from King Street Metro at 7:15 (must leave by 7:30 to be at Natl Arboretum by 8).

    May 2, 2013

  • Mark O.

    I will be driving in from Gainesville if anyone is interested in carpooling.

    May 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This will be such a beautiful setting. I love Azaleas. See you on Saturday.

    May 2, 2013

  • Edna J.

    it should be fabulous!

    May 1, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    The only way I'd show up to something so early is if I could dig up some azaleas and take them home.

    1 · April 30, 2013

  • Olga

    Never been there. Sounds great!

    April 30, 2013

  • Skysusan

    Wonderful! sky

    April 30, 2013

  • Skysusan

    I'm in! sky

    April 30, 2013

  • Julie

    This sounds like a perfect outing to allow some of our younger well-behaved, well-seasoned hikers.

    April 30, 2013

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