NATIONAL TRAILS DAY DELIGHT
What better way to celebrate the American Hiking Society's "National Trails Day" in the United States than to take a hike to Sweden. Sweden? Yep. As the author of "Walking Washington, DC" and a Sierra Club hike leader, I led a hike from the capital's oldest neighborhood across the pulchritudinous Potomac River into Virginia and then back into DC for our finale at the Swedish Embassy.
As we stood literally gasping at the views atop the riverside embassy's rooftop, our enthusiastic host Myriam Puryicky introduced us to Sweden's famous hiking trails and the concept of Allemansrätten. Their constitutionally protected "Right of Public Access" encourages hikers to saunter unfettered anywhere in the countryside if they leave it undisturbed.
Perched on the rooftop, we relished the birds-eye view of our entire 8-mile loop hike. We began at Francis Scott Key Memorial Park, a gem of a pint-sized urban park commemorating the famous writer of "The Star Spangled Banner." It's at the edge of Georgetown, the District's oldest, toniest, and most walkable neighborhood, with brick rowhouses adorning European-skinny streets. Then we crossed over the artistically arched Francis Scott Key Bridge. That deposited us in Virginia, where we hung a left onto the 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River. First, we popped off the paved trail to explore lush, green Theodore Roosevelt Island. Afterward we couldn't help but stop a few times for selfies along the river for its Instagram-perfect views of the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. Then we crossed back into DC over the classically designed Memorial Bridge. Along the way on the riverside trail, we passed the Lincoln Memorial, the Kennedy Center, the Watergate, and other waterfront jewels. At our second to last stop, we nibbled plump purple mulberries next to the seldom-seen Mile Marker Zero of the 184.5-mile long C&O Canal. Then we wound up back at Georgetown's bustling waterfront, with its restaurants, bars, parks, boats -- and Sweden's stylish and welcoming embassy.
If you also want to enjoy the hike without leaving your couch, just read "Walking Washington, DC," my unique new guidebook for natives, newbies, and tourists. This hike was adapted from "Walk #13, Potomac River Panorama and Watergates."
But you'll have to actually travel to Washington, DC if you want to visit Sweden.
Walking Washington, DC: