willow trees

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The Mount Vernon Trail is one of the best places to go for those who enjoy being active outdoors but doesn’t want to deal with the crowds in Washington DC. The 17 miles trail spans from Rosslyn, VA to President George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon but along the way provides some of the best views of the nation’s capital and then some. The trail itself is protected by the National Park Service and can be accessed year-round from 6 am- 10 pm.

Here’s a great map of the trail.

For a majority of the time, the trail is sandwiched between the Potomac River and the George Washington Parkway.  This makes it really easy to hop on and off the trail at any given point. But it also provides some very beautiful waterfront views.  In other words, you don’t have to walk the entire 17 miles in order to see the best of the best, here are some personal favorite points of interests and places where you can hop on and off the trail:

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The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Arlington Memorial Bridge are seen from the Mount Vernon Trail in the middle of autumn.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

(L) the footbridge leading to Theodore Roosevelt Island (R) Theodore Roosevelt statue

Let’s start with one of my favorite places along the Mount Vernon Trail, Theodore Roosevelt Island. A great place to begin your outdoor adventure. I love it because it’s not like any other place along the trail. Park your car in the parking lot and cross the footbridge. You’ll be greeted by Theodore Roosevelt himself. Walk within the island for a bit more solitude than you would get along the Mount Vernon Trail. No bikes are allowed on the island but there’s a bike rack by the bridge so you can leave your bike and walk 🙂

Once you are back on the Mount Vernon Trail, you will see beautiful willow trees, and about half a mile away from Roosevelt island, you’ll start seeing some of the best views of the Washington DC Memorials. Its one of the only places where you can actually see the top 3 landmarks (Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the US Capitol) all lined up in a row. There is not one spot, in particular, you should go to see them. The more you walk, the more the perspectives will change and the view from across the Potomac River is like no other. If you walk a little further, you’ll start seeing the Thomas Jefferson Memorial as well. Enjoy these views or the memorials anywhere from Roosevelt Island to the Navy Merchant Marine Memorial.

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July 4th firework celebration

If you can, my favorite time to go here is on July 4th for the firework show. You basically get front row seats all along this part of the trail so you don’t really have to go early to claim your spot. If you do decide to go, then driving/parking may be a hassle. The best way to do it is to take the metro and get on and off at the Rosslyn stop. It’s a little more than half a mile walk but you’ll be saving so much more time by using the public transportation route. I have been on the George Washington Parkway when there are fireworks and cars will literally stop in the middle of the road to watch it. At that point, traffic gets super backed up!

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Sometimes its good to just wonder.

The other day I was out by the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial shooting the red tulips. They are so beautiful when they’re fully bloomed. Can you imagine just red on red flowers all lined up at sunrise? It’s like a dreammmm.

Typically when the sun has come up for a while, I’ll head back to my car. But on this day I was not ready. I didn’t want to go back. It was such a beautiful Sunday morning that I felt the need to go on a walk. So walking along the trail next to the George Washington Parkway, I found myself capturing the willow trees with the Washington Monument. I loved how linear everything was. I probably stopped at like 5 willow trees to use the branches as framing pieces. But then there was this one tree where the sun light was hitting it just right.

Wow, check out those leaves on top of the image. If that ain’t an image all on it’s own then I don’t know what is. But then mister bike guy came rolling past and made it even more perfect. I had no idea he was coming and once I saw him in my camera frame, I just kept on clicking, clicking, clicking.

LOL I waited a bit longer to see if I could recreate this moment with another biker. But I waited a good 10 minutes and no one showed up. I lady ran past but it just wasn’t the same. I don’t know what I was looking for with the other biker. I guess I just wanted options. Either way, it was the perfect Sunday morning walk.

My camera settings for this image is F/18 at 1/100th of a second at ISO 400 with my Sony A7Ii and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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I just love how the fog simplifies everything. If I were to take this same image on a clear day, you would of seen buildings, the Potomac River, and who knows what else. The fog cleared everything else out and left a beautiful backdrop to highlight these beautiful willow tree branches. Seriously, in love.

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Along the GW Parkway there are these beautiful willow trees everywhere. I love watching them blow in the wind. It seems like they’d be the perfect spot for a picnic or even to just cuddle up and read. Do you think so? Or have I just been watching way to much tv lately that I’m getting these fantasy, dream-like visions of willow trees in my head?

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I knew I wanted to come to the Constitution Gardens for a sunset image because its one of those forgotten places in the mall. It’s kind of hidden and I don’t hear too much about it. It’s a really pretty place with willow trees and ducks all around.

But when I got there to take the image it was pretty difficult. It was hard to come up with a good composition. I circled the pond for a while, until I came up with this image. Hope you all like it.

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