The Washington D.C. area is home to a plethora of national park sites. Whether it’s the monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument or battlefields such as Manassas there are just so many unique places to visit in the region. One of the lesser known national park sites in the area is Greenbelt Park, which is located just north of Washington D.C. Unfortunately, there is a reason why Greenbelt Park isn’t as well known as many of the other sites in the area. It’s one of the most boring units of the National Park Service that I have ever visited.
The main attraction of Greenbelt Park is that it’s close to a station for the Washington D.C. Metro service and it has camping facilities. So it provides a cheap alternative to the hotels of the city. If you aren’t using the park for that reason there really isn’t much reason to go. When you step inside the park it ultimately feels like your typical town park. There isn’t anything really sightworthy and you’re never far from the sounds of the major roads surrounding the park.
The park does have two trails that I was able to hike on. The one in the center of the park (its trailhead is at a nice and open picnic area so that is one positive thing in this park’s favor) is the Azalea Trail. When I visited the park it was right at the beginning of azalea blooming season (so I may have been a couple of weeks too early), but I didn’t notice any of the namesake plant while on the trail. Additionally, the trail is just your typical exercise trail with numerous stations to stop and do exercises at, which isn’t my cup of tea of just hiking around and enjoying the view. At less than two miles and without any elevation gain it’s a bit short too. The second trail within the park is the Perimeter Trail, which as the name suggests goes around most of the perimeter of the park. While the trail is a pretty suitable length for someone who wants to get out enjoy nature (a little over five miles) a lot of it is near the noise of the roads surrounding the park so this trail isn’t a recommend either.
Greenbelt Park unfortunately has a very narrow focus: camping. So if you are coming here for anything else with the expectation of something worthy of the National Park Service you are probably going to leave disappointed.