A Sunday Stroll

Living in the city as I do, I don’t have the opportunity to walk in the woods often. However, I am fortunate in that I live in Alexandria, Virginia, a city that has a real commitment to preserving “green space” and urban hike-and-bike trails. One such trail is the Mount Vernon Trail, an 18-mile paved trail that extends from George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate north through Old Town Alexandria and then even further north to connect with the W&OD rail trail that runs west for 45-miles through Northern Virginia and nearly to West Virginia.

I live close enough to the trail that I can (if I get up early enough) walk to my work in Old Town, about an hour’s stroll away. I find walking the trail to be relaxing and refreshing. The trail follows the Potomac River the entire way and, no matter what mood the river is in – whether cheery and bright blue or dour and gray – I find it soothing just to look at the gently rolling waves and breathe in the fresh air. Though the trail passes right by National Airport and a coal-powered electricity plant, it also has some lightly wooded areas and marshy spots. I share the trail with many rabbits, geese, beavers, and even a turtle or two.

I may not be able to walk in the deep woods on a regular basis but I find the Mount Vernon Trail to be just as restorative. As the naturalist John Burroughs said, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”

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