Hey, the azaleas are already looking good -- let's go take a peek!

OK, 8:00 am is early, but the Arboretum always piles the Azalea Blossoms on top of the Bonsai Festival, so if we don't get there early, we'll have quite a crowd to contend with. Let’s get in first thing for some quality time with the azaleas and then stretch it out with a nice hike east through the Arboretum to the Anacostia and back!

The route:

We'll meet in front of the Arbor House and head straight for the Azalea Collection, winding our way uphill through the network of woodland trails to the top of Mount Hamilton and back down again, exiting the Azalea Collection to the south.

From there we'll rev things up a bit and head east along Crabtree and Hickey Hill Roads to the Asian Collection, where we'll take the winding pathway down to the bank of the Anacostia River and see how flooded it is after an entire week of steady rain.

Popping back up on the road, we'll walk north past the Dogwood Collection and head back west along Meadow Road, with a jag south along Beechwood Road to walk past the National Capitol Columns before returning to our starting point. The Bonsai Garden is nearby for those who wish to linger longer and tour the tiny trees.

The hike is a circuit (loop) of 4 miles of smiles and should take about 2 hours, given the slower initial pace in the azaleas. The path is a mix of paved and fine gravel/wood chips, with hills and some steps here and there.

Google Map:

How to get there:

• Metro is not recommended. See the driving directions at the Arboretum’s website here:

• The approximate street address to the gate is 2371 R St NE, Washington, DC 20002, GPS =[masked],[masked]

NB: Try to arrive early! Cars usually queue up along R Street NE, waiting for the gates to open so they can snatch all the good parking spots, immediately to the left after you enter the gate.

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.

Cost: None.

What to bring: Water, comfy shoes, and your furry friend if desired (leashes are required). The forecast is mostly sunny and a high of 72 degrees, so consider a layer for the morning chill. Of course, a camera is a great idea!

Administrative stuff: The Arbor House, immediately to the right as you enter the park, has drinking fountains and "real" restrooms. There are also porta-johns positioned here and there in the park. As a reminder, this is a kids-free zone, no one under 18 years of age is permitted.

After the hike: If you forgot breakfast on your way to go hiking, Dangerously Delicious Pies and the H St Coffee House are 5 minutes' drive away along H Street NE in the Atlas District.


• US National Arboretum:

• PDF map of the grounds:

• Dangerously Delicious Pies, 1339 H St NE, Washington, DC, (202)[masked],

• H Street Coffee House & Café, 1359 H St NE, Washington, DC

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  • Shannon

    My first Meet-up outing. Thanks John for a really nice event. Beautiful walk, great company. Exceeded my expectations. Will definitely join up with the group again.

    May 5, 2014

  • Edna J.

    Great photos, everyone! Thanks for sharing!

    1 · May 3, 2014

  • Edna J.

    Fabulous weather, gorgeous azaleas, good company! Thanks!

    2 · May 3, 2014

  • Julie

    So beautiful - I went to Betty's Azalea ranch right after

    1 · May 3, 2014

  • Kimberly Ten Pas B.

    Best one yet

    1 · May 3, 2014

  • Laura

    Fantastic! I lagged behind, snapping a few photos, but I really enjoyed it. A perfect day!!

    1 · May 3, 2014

  • John M

    Great fun! Thanks!!

    May 3, 2014

  • Hank

    Great hike. Thanks, John!

    1 · May 3, 2014

  • Ilana

    Feeling a bit under the weather, so will have to wait for next year. Have a great time!

    May 2, 2014

  • Jennifer

    Sorry! My 13 month old isn't sleeping well so well are going to sleep in. Have a great time and hope to meet you all soon!

    May 2, 2014

  • Bev

    Wish I could.

    May 2, 2014

  • ML M.

    Yet another hike thwarted by the stuff of life. Have to do some car repair. Hopefully can make the Sunday hike and enjoy good people fresh air and sunshine

    May 2, 2014

  • Linda S.

    I'm going to be too busy tomorrow packing for my trip to FL I leave on Sun

    May 2, 2014

  • Steve M

    Unfortunately I'll be in Richmond. Have a great event everyone!

    May 2, 2014

  • Jim

    If you're driving in from the Beltway, be aware that 2 of the most profitable & exploitative speed cameras in the DC area are located on NY Ave. just before the turnoff to the Arboretum.

    1 · April 29, 2014

    • John M

      Thanks, Jim! There's also another one south of the Arboretum, along Benning Road NE where it crosses the Anacostia. Seems like they have the place bracketed...

      April 29, 2014

    • CK

      So just drive the exact speed limit to be on the safe side? Thx Jim & John

      May 1, 2014

  • Diana B.

    This was soooo awesome last year but will have to miss this year :( Ya'll post lots of cool pics for me.

    1 · April 29, 2014

  • Blanche O. S.

    Sounds like a beautiful walk, looking for an encore day as I'll be out of town all weekend.

    1 · April 29, 2014

  • Cat

    I'd be there with bells on if not for my having to be in class all day that day. Darn! Hope there's an "encore:...

    "Encore, encore, encore!"

    1 · April 29, 2014

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