When you and your canine kid are itching to go on a short hike in the Arlington, Virginia area, check out the Donaldson Run Loop. This is a quick 2-mile loop trail that meanders along the Donaldson Run Creek in the Federal Parklands of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Surrounded by forests and packed with rocky bluffs, waterfalls, and creek crossings, this may be one of the most exciting short hikes in the state.
Your adventure starts at the Marcey Road Park on North Marcey Road where you can find plenty of free barking, restrooms, water access, picnic areas, a playground, basketball and tennis courts, as well as plenty of green space. They do not provide baggies, so you will need to bring your own to clean up after your pupster. To get to the trailhead, walk around the basketball court down the hill to the edge of the woods where you will see the well-worn trail beginning.
The trail forks immediately. Stay to the left on a straight and downhill trek that descends over 60 feet in 2/10 of a mile. Continue to go straight at the two trail forks, and you will go over a steep descent to the left at the bench. This is all wooded and rustic with rugged terrain and a lot of critters running around. Some of the animals that frequent the forest include foxes, raccoons, possums, woodchucks, squirrels, deer, and moles. If you are quiet, you can probably get some pawesome pictures here.
At the ¼ mile mark, the trail will curve sharply to the right and down some wooden steps to the bank of the stream. Keep following the stream to the right for about 200 yards until you see the first creek crossing, which is pretty easy. But the second one, about 200 yards further down, can be trickier and requires some care unless you don't mind getting get your feet wet. When you get to the wooden signs directing you to different trails, follow it to the right to continue on the loop back to the Marcey Road Park.
This is a pawsitively gorgeous hike, and you and your pup will truly enjoy the trek no matter what time of the year you go.