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Rock Creek Park Trail: Dumbarton Oaks & Montrose Parks

The Rock Creek Park Trail through Dumbarton Oaks and Montrose Parks is always beautiful, and the neighborhoods northwest of DuPont Circle are filled with historic bridges, sculptures, and interesting sights. As a bonus, Dumbarton Oaks Museum, halfway through the walk, has a current exhibit that is certainly topical now that we’ve survived the Mayan Apocalypse:

A transnational mosaic, a pendant recycled over two thousand years ago, a bowl that sounds like the sea – these are some of the ancient Maya treasures on display in All Sides Considered: New Research on the Mayan Collection. The artifacts illustrate the beauty and ingenuity of Maya art, remarkable production techniques, and the value placed on quality materials. Displays also shed light on the modern scientific inquiry that led to these findings. They are the result of extensive collaboration across disciplines and institutions among Maya archaeologists, art historians, epigraphers, geologists, biologists and others.

There may be some snow on the ground from Saturday, but Sunday’s forecast is sunny, so let’s do a winter walk through Rock Creek Park!

The route: From the corner of 24th Street NW and Connecticut Avenue NW, we’ll walk southeast along Connecticut, crossing Rock Creek on the Taft Bridge. At California Street NW we’ll turn right and walk through the side streets of Kalorama Heights to recross Rock Creek on Q Street NW across Dumbarton Bridge. After crossing the bridge, we'll turn right and walk past Oak Hill Cemetery and its chapel to arrive Dumbarton Oaks Museum and Gardens, hopefully right at opening time (2:00 pm). Depending on interest level, we’ll spend no more than an hour in the museum. (My recommendation is a brief stop to warm up and look over the Mayan Collection.) Reassembling on 32nd Street, we'll walk back along Rock Creek Trail, using Lover’s Lane to pass through Montrose and Dumbarton Oaks Parks.

The walk is a loop about 3.5 miles long. The total walk should take no more than two and a half hours, depending on the time spent on breaks and at Dumbarton Oaks. Sunset is at 4:56 pm.

Where to meet: We'll meet near the Woodley Park-Zoo Metro Station on the corner of 24th Street NW and Connecticut Avenue NW.

How to get there: Woodley Park-Zoo Metro is on the Red Line. Say no more. For those driving, the address is 24th Street NW and Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC 2008. There is side street parking in neighborhood streets that is free on Sundays.

What to bring: Yourself and some water! It should be sunny but a brisk 40 degrees, so dress in layers and choose comfy shoes -- there may be snow on the ground! Backpacks, umbrellas and food/liquid are prohibited in the museum, but you can check these before entry. (See link to museum rules below.)

Administrative stuff: There is a McDonald’s near the meetup point at 2616 Connecticut Avenue NW for a hot coffee and/or pit stop before the walk. Dumbarton Oaks Museum has restrooms and drinking fountains, and the grounds are open from 2:00 – 5:00 pm.

Cost: Free! Dumbarton Oaks Museum is free, and the $8 fee to enter the Dumbarton Oaks Garden is waived during the winter months. Dumbarton Oaks and Montrose Parks and Oak Hill Cemetery are always free.

After the walk: There are several restaurants within a block of the meetup point for those who would like to get together afterwards. (Murphy’s sounds pretty good.) See notes below.


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  • Gordon

    Real fun for my first ever Meetup. Great scenery, blue skies and nice to connect with folks at Murphy's. Thanks John

    December 31, 2012

  • Dianne

    A perfect way to spend a sunny, cold winter's day. I really enjoyed the company of the people who came, the urban/park route, and the museum. Sorry I didn't get to speak with everyone -- next time!

    December 30, 2012

  • Benita

    The hike area was great but bikers were left behind. Poorly planned event.

    December 30, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      Well please remember, John M has been organizing these walks/hikes for over a year now on his own dime and on his free time...and these events have always been what you make of them (and free I might add). I'm sure it was a well-planned event.

      2 · December 30, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    We REALLY enjoyed the walk through neighborhoods, going to the Dumbarton Oaks Museum and joining members for a drink/bite to eat afterward. The people we met were friendly and interesting...looking forward to more outings!

    1 · December 30, 2012

  • John M

    Thanks & Happy New Year!!

    December 30, 2012

  • Jim

    As usual, John did an excellent job of planning - even posting maps online of the hike route beforehand. He made every effort to keep folks (gently) corralled and moving to & from Dumbarton Oaks.

    1 · December 30, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm still on West coast time and can't get moving so I'm going to cancel. Have fun!

    December 30, 2012

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