posted by | on , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Great Outdoors: No Car Required

By DC EcoWomen blogger Dawn Bickett

One of the reasons I love Washington DC is that its strong public transit and walkable neighborhoods often make owning or using a car unnecessary. But when I tried leaving the city for the great outdoors, I found I could barely get past the Beltway without one.

Turns out, I was wrong. Car-less DC EcoWomen, I have some exciting news! It is possible to hike, backpack, and camp outside of DC without driving there. And not only can it be done, it can lead you to one of the most famous hiking routes in the United States: The Appalachian Trail.

This summer, a friend suggested going on a backpacking trip, and I checked to see if we could get somewhere without taking a car. Looking up nearby hiking trails, I discovered that the Appalachian Trail briefly touches West Virginia in Harpers Ferry. Then, just 25 miles north of Harpers Ferry, the trail runs through the small town of Myersville, MD.

And researching transit lines, I noticed Myersville has a park-and-ride serviced by the 991 MARC commuter bus, and Harpers Ferry is served by MARC commuter trains on weekdays as well as AMTRAK trains on weekends. We had found the perfect weekend backpacking trip – no driving necessary.

The only hitch with using commuter transit was that we had to leave and return on commuter time. We headed to Myersville Friday afternoon on the first 991 bus and came back to DC via MARC train early morning the following Monday. In between those trips were two days of beautiful views, quiet rivers, Civil War sites, the original Washington Monument, and even some tubing down the Shenandoah.

We passed through several state parks, crossed two rivers, and got a small taste of the winding Appalachian Trail. All without a car. Total transit cost? $16 roundtrip.

Unfortunately, most regional and state parks around DC are not as easy to get to, but from Harpers Ferry, hikers can wander up in to Maryland as we did, head down into Virginia, or even just stick around near town.

Cycling ecowomen can also pedal up the C&O Canal, which travels from Georgetown all the way to Cumberland, MD, and has campsites every 6 to 8 miles.

So the next time you want to get out of the city and in to nature – whether or not you have car – consider looking first at public transit or even bike trails. You might be surprised at where you can get!

View of the Potomac River from our campsite near Harpers Ferry

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