The new fitness program leads a hike through DC and Rock Creek Park interspersed with mini yoga sessions.
By Melissa Romero
Danielle Reyes leads a small group of hikers through a 15-minute yoga session in Montrose Park. It’s all part of the new program Yoga Hikes DC. Photographs by Melissa Romero.
Washingtonians are such a fitness-loving bunch that hybrid exercise classes have become the norm. Barre and cycling? Been there. Yoga and Pilates (a.k.a. Yogalates)? Done that. I thought I’d seen all the city had to offer, until I stumbled upon the new program Yoga Hikes DC.
For the past three weeks, those who frequent Rock Creek Park may have come across a small group of yogis practicing their tree pose or Warrior II at the foot of the creek. Or maybe they’ve drawn stares in Dumbarton Oaks as they stop for a quick Downward Dog before setting out once more on one of the many winding trails.
It’s all part of Yoga Hikes DC, the brainchild of Danielle Reyes, who offers 90-minute urban hikes through the city interspersed with 15-minute yoga breaks along the way. Reyes, who grew up hiking with her family in upstate New York, says yoga became the “perfect counterbalance” after her muscles began suffering some wear and tear from running and hiking. Combining hiking and yoga into one workout was just an easy fix. After noticing the huge following of hiking yoga in other major cities, including San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, Reyes wondered, “How do we not have this in DC?”
On Saturday morning I joined Reyes and a group of six women for a yoga hike through Rock Creek Park, Dumbarton Oaks, and Montrose Park. Reyes carried all the supplies we’d need—sunscreen, bug spray, mini yoga mats—in a backpack and led us to the start of a trail below Calvert Street.
Before beginning the hike, Reyes led us through our first 15-minute yoga session under a canopy of trees, encouraging us to be aware of our surroundings. “In a typical yoga class you’re asked to tune everything out,” Reyes said. “This class I want you to take everything in—the sounds, smells, and sights.”
After a few downward dogs and some bug scares (expect to find a few critters crawling around), we headed into the woods to begin the brisk hike. This is no leisurely hike—Reyes has each route mapped and timed so that the group reaches each yoga spot on schedule. But each 15-minute session flew by, as we did Warrior II poses under the searing sun at the bank of the creek, and as we hiked through the public portion of Dumbarton Oaks, where many of us exclaimed in wonder over the 27 acres of land.
Reyes says introducing people to the many trails of DC was a big reason she decided to launch Yoga Hikes DC: “I just didn’t realize how few people know a lot of the trails around Rock Creek Park, or they just don’t know what to expect.”
After climbing one big hill—each hike includes at least one—Reyes led us through our last yoga session in Montrose Park, where we fittingly did tree poses while gazing up at a giant tree. But just as soon as we handed our mats back to Reyes, we were off again to finish the hike back to trailhead.
Although Yoga Hikes DC is still new, Reyes is already considering a few additions, including longer hikes out in Great Falls or Shenandoah National Parks, or throwing in the occasional yoga run for those more experienced. But for now, Reyes is confident Yoga Hikes will easily find a place in DC: “It’s social, it’s outdoors, it’s active. Those are the three check boxes for me—and it fits really well into DC’s culture.”
Yoga Hikes DC is $25 for drop-ins. Enter the code FFSPRING at checkout to receive a 20 percent discount. Reyes leads four to five hikes each week beginning in Dupont Circle and Rock Creek Park.