- This park contains a largely ungroomed forest and has long been an oasis for city residents and tourists alike. Attractions include picnic areas, winding trails and bike paths, a nature center, a public golf course, tennis courts and stables. The centerpiece is a working gristmill, complete with a turning water wheel. Rock Creek Parkway runs alongside the meandering creek. Parts of the road are closed to traffic on weekends and turned over to cyclists and roller-bladers. Although the Metro is nearby, a car is required to visit many of the key sites in a single trip.
Rock Creek Park includes Battleground National Cemetery, Meridian Hill, Pierce Mill, The Old Stone House, Horse Center, Nature Center and more. A wide variety of recreation pursuits accommodate all ages and abilities. Rangers lead a variety of interpretive programs that range from natural history, historical (colonial, milling and civil war), recreational and astronomy. For educators, the rangers offer a variety of educational programs. Call the Nature Center at 202-426-6828 for more information and to make reservations. The Carter Barron Amphitheater offers concerts and Shakespearean theater during the summer months. Rock Creek has a variety of paved bicycle paths. One of which runs from the Lincoln Memorial through the park and into Maryland. Memorial Bridge connects it to the Mount Vernon Trail in Virginia. Other bicycle trails near the Rock Creek Trail are the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park towpath in Georgetown and the Capital Crescent trail in Georgetown and Bethesda, Maryland. Beach Drive between Military and Broad Branch roads is closed to cars from 7 AM Saturday to 7 PM Sunday and on holidays for bicycling, hiking, jogging, and rollerblading. Rock Creek Park has 30 picnic areas throughout the park; some have rain shelters. Many can be reserved for groups up to 100. Reservations must be made in person at the DC Department of Parks and Recreation at 3149, 16th St., NW. Call 202-673-7646 for more information. The large recreation field at 16th and Kennedy Streets, NW has room for many activities. Some of the fields, which are suitable for soccer, football, and field hockey, can be reserved through the DC Department of Recreation. Call 202-767-8363 for information. The 15 soft-surface and 10 hard-surface tennis courts at 16th and Kennedy Streets, NW must be reserved through Guest Services, Inc. The courts are open from April through mid-November. A fee is charged. For the rest of the year, the 10 hard-surface courts are available free on a first-come, first-served basis. Six soft-surface courts are located off Park Road, just east of Pierce Mill. Make reservations for these courts through the Washington Area Tennis Patrons in person at the courts; open May through September. A fee is charged. The courts at Montrose Park are free. An extensive system of trails and paths cover Rock Creek Park and outlying areas such as Glover Archbold Park. These trails are maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club consisting of a blue-blazed trail that follows the east side of the creek, a green-blazed trail that follows the western ridge of the park and tan-blazed connector trails. For physical fitness enthusiasts, a 1.5-mile exercise course begins near Calvert Street and Connecticut Avenue. For the horse rider, 13 miles of wide, dirt and gravel bridle trails crisscross the northern section of the park. Near picnic area 25, off of Glover Road is an Equitation field. Horseback riding lessons and guided trail rides are available at the Rock Creek Park Horse Center. There are also plenty of opportunities for rollerblading at leisure or partaking in one of many competitive events.
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