One man who did appreciate Rock Creek Park, however, was Theodore Roosevelt. When he first became president he was a vigorous 42 year old, an advocate of "the strenuous life" fond of chopping down trees on the outskirts of Washington and swimming across the Potomac. The press had a field day covering his athletic outings. Roosevelt was particularly fond of what he called "scrambles," exhausting cross-country hikes. His favorite place in Washington for these expeditions was Rock Creek Park, where he led members of his "Tennis Cabinet" and various hapless foreign diplomats on grueling hikes. His motto was "Over, Under or Through – But Never Around."
In January 1905, for example, he led a group of nine boys, including three of his sons, on a hike through Rock Creek Park. "I do not think that one of them saw anything incongruous in the President’s getting as bedaubed as mud as they got," he wrote, "or in my wiggling and clambering around jutting rocks, through cracks, and up what were really small cliff faces, just like the rest of them."
While the boys may have not found the President’s behavior odd, others were less forgiving. "Theodore!" Senator Henry Cabot Lodge once exclaimed, "if you knew how ridiculous you look up in that tree, you’d come down at once!"
The challenging "Theodore Roosevelt Trail" winds its way through gorges and woodlands of Rock Creek Park, but a hiker can rest at the Jules Jusserand Memorial bench near Pierce Mill on Beach Drive. Jusserand, the French Ambassador, was like Roosevelt an avid birdwatcher. The natty Jusserand gamely followed T.R. on many excursions, writing of one occasion when they forded a creek, "I, too, for the honor of France removed my apparel, everything except my lavender kid gloves. The President cast an inquiring look at this as if they, too, must come off, but I quickly forestalled any remark by saying, ‘With your permission, Mr. President, I will keep these on; otherwise it would be embarrassing if we should meet ladies.’"
Taking a drive or stroll through Rock Creek Park makes a refreshing change from the federal regularity of downtown Washington. Stop by the Nature Center off of Military Road for a guide and orientation to the park’s many facilities, which include a public riding stable, the Carter Barron amphitheater, a public golf course, and a planetarium.
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Charlotte, North Carolina
May 24, 2006
One of the largest and prettiest parks around is Rock Creek Park, located just off of Business Highway 52.
This lovely wooded 100-acre park offers a variety of options for visitors. You can swim, play sports, hike, play in the playground, or just kick back with a lovely picnic or bring the burgers and coal and cook up a feast for a few friends.
For walkers and joggers, this is a small slice of heaven. You can simply walk through the beautiful park and along the creek, or take off and enjoy the several trails within the park. Right near the swimming pool there is a short trail that leads through the woods, and a walking trail on past the recreation department offices. Scattered throughout the park, there are a number of small bridges that cross over the creek. This gives a very photogenic quality to the park.
There are lighted tennis courts, a softball/baseball field, climbing walls and an obstacle course to help keep you fit and trim. There is also a swimming pool during the summer months, which offers a changing room and restrooms.
There are 25 picnic benches dotted along the creeks path. Many have grills that the public may use. They are on a first come, first serve basis. There are several large tables for groups. There is also a playground for children well placed, so as to blend it with the surroundings. There is also a very picturesque church on the grounds.
During the summer months the parks and recreation departments hold a large number of things to do for the whole family. There are softball and baseball leagues, teen sports challenges, craft classes, nature classes, as well as trips to nearby attractions such as the famous Biltmore Estates.
This is truly a wonderful place to bring your kids and let them burn up all that excess energy. It is also the perfect place for walking and make sure to bring your pooch-pets are permitted on a leash. This is also another favorite place of mine and Jazzy’s to exercise and enjoy nature.
From journal Albemarle…More than Home to an American Idol
August 16, 2005
This park saved my sanity in the big city. You drive in the entrance, and it's almost like you're transported 80 miles outside of the city. Very rarely can you even hear the traffic. There are lots of grassy areas great for games, lying on a blanket, or just enjoying the space and quiet.
From journal Summer in Washington, DC
June 14, 2002
From journal Big Game Hunting in Washington, D.C.