Teddy has an Island

Finding a spot that's "off the beaten path" in a place as busy as Washington D.C. can be difficult. But just such a place sits out in the Potomac River, almost directly behind the Lincoln Memorial. It's Theodore Roosevelt Island.

By Washington D.C. standards, this small unit of the National Park Service is almost vacant. About 160,000 visitors make it to the island each year. Compare that with the 24 million who visit the National Mall annually. Part of the reason for the solitude may be the relative difficulty in getting to the park. It is only accessible via the northbound lanes of the George Washington Parkway. You park on the mainland and then take a small footbridge over to the island. Also, unlike the variety of monuments on the Mall, you can't just wander by it, you must make a dedicated effort to get to the island.

In keeping with President Roosevelt's love of nature, the park service has created a natural forest, compete with hiking trails. The Swamp Trail is the longest at one and a half miles and circumnavigates the island. The Woods Trail and Upland Trail are shorter and take the visitor to the memorial plaza near the center of the island.

The plaza features an impressive statue of the 26th president, along with large stone tables inscribed with some of his quotes and sayings, and a fountain. It is an unexpected pleasure to be hiking through a seemingly deserted forest and come upon a typical Washington monument.

With it's location in the river and the thick forest, the island is home to several bird and amphibian species. After spending some time on Teddy's island it will be hard to believe that the hustle and noise of D.C. is only a few minutes away.

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