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A few cherry tree buds were just starting to open on Tuesday, but the Haupt Garden was busting out! There's 3 days of 60+ temperatures this week to help things along, so let's go back to the Haupt Garden on Saturday and take a turn around the National Mall!

The route:

• Part 1 - From the Haupt Garden, we’ll walk west along the path in the Mall that runs parallel to Jefferson Drive, cross 14th St SW and veer left along the sidewalk in front of Washington Monument, cross Independence Ave SW in front of the Floral Library, and enter the path that runs along the shoreline of the Tidal Basin. We’ll walk clockwise around the shoreline of the Tidal Basin, past the Jefferson, FDR, and MLK memorials. After passing the Japanese Lantern sculpture we'll turn east and cross Kurtz Bridge, where we'll retrace our outbound route back to the Haupt Garden.

• Part 2 - After a brief pause, we'll exit Haupt Garden to the east and head north across the National Mall to the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, where we'll take a turn around the central fountain. Returning south to the National Mall, we'll walk east to the Capitol Reflecting Pool, turn south and walk to the US Botanic Garden. After a pause in the Botanic Garden we'll exit west and return to the Haupt Garden, skirting north of the National Museum of the American Indian and walking along the National Mall path that runs parallel to Jefferson Ave.

The first part is a modified out-and-back route (with a clockwise loop around the Tidal Basin) of about 3.4 miles and should take a little over an hour, depending on the amount of tourist traffic. The second part is a clockwise loop of almost 2 miles and should take about 40 minutes, plus time for a stop at the Botanic Garden. All told, it's about 5.4 miles of smiles; with the breaks, plan for about 3 hours.

The surface is fairly level and mostly paved, with gravel in the National Mall.

The hike difficulty is easy, and if desired you can cut it short by only doing the first part. During the second part, we'll set a departure time when we arrive at the Botanic Garden, and anyone wanting to linger longer can return at their leisure.

Google route map: http://tinyurl.com/kdlxnno

How to get there: (Metro is recommended)

• From the Smithsonian Metro Station, walk east 0.1 miles on Independence Ave SW toward 12th St SW, turn left and walk north into the garden, through the wrought iron gates flanked by the Freer & Sackler Gallery and the National Museum of African Art. The Smithsonian Institution “Castle” will be immediately in front of you at 1000 Jefferson Dr SW, Washington DC 20004.

• From L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station, walk north 1 block along 7th St SW to Independence Ave, turn left, and walk two blocks west to L'Enfant Plaza. The gate to the Haupt Garden and the Smithsonian will be on your right.

Where to meet: We'll meet in the Enid A. Haupt Garden just south of the Smithsonian Institution Castle.

What to bring: Water, comfy shoes, and your furry friend if desired. (Leashes, please. Only service animals are allowed inside the Smithsonian Visitor Center and the Botanic Garden.) The forecast is sunny, a high of 64 degrees, and light breezes. Hey, there's no rain in the forecast!

Administrative stuff: There are public restrooms and drinking fountains in the Smithsonian Institution and the Botanic Garden, and lots of porta-johns around the Tidal Basin. As a reminder, this is a kids-free zone, no one under 18 years of age is permitted.

Cost: None.

Notes:

• Cherry Blossom Cam: http://tinyurl.com/bvvg3ha

• National Cherry Blossom Festival: http://tinyurl.com/h37fr

• Smithsonian Maps and Directions: http://tinyurl.com/lckwzd8