COVID-19: At REI, we encourage you to get outside responsibly. Stay local, avoid recreational travel, practice social distancing and check ahead for area and facility closures. Learn More
Trail Run Project Logo

Milkhouse Ford Loop



1.7 mile 2.7 kilometer loop
89% Runnable


Ascent: 253' 77 m
Descent: -257' -78 m
High: 344' 105 m
Low: 147' 45 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 16% (9°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Megan W

Explore a less visited part of the park with several worthwhile historic points of interest.

Megan W

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Wildlife


This enjoyable loop features a historically important Civil War fort, a poet's cabin, and a creek ford for vehicles used up until 1994.


From the Nature Center, follow the paved part of the Western Ridge Trail north, soon crossing Military Road. At the 4-way intersection, take the Fort DeRussy Trail heading east. Ascend a gentle incline and approach Fort DeRussy. This Civil War fort was utilized during the Battle of Fort Stevens and helped to defend Washington D.C. You can head through the surrounding woods to discover earthen works, ditches, and other mounds. These are fun for kids to find and explore.

Proceed downhill eastwards to the creek through brushy thickets. Upon turning north onto Black Horse Trail (Central), catch views of Rock Creek, picnic area #6, and Beach Drive. Soon you'll pass an open field and Miller Cabin (named after the eccentric poet Joaquin Miller who lived here in the 1880's). Continuing north, you'll arrive at Milkhouse Ford, a relatively shallow spot where vehicles used to drive across the creek. Up until 1950's, this was the only way to cross Rock Creek.

Join Cross Trail #5 heading uphill to the west. Take the Western Ridge Trail south, following the green blazes. Recross Military Road and complete the loop by ending back at the Nature Center.

Flora & Fauna

White tailed deer, fox, squirrels. Spicebush, viburnum, sassafras.

History & Background

Milkhouse Ford is a relatively shallow spot where vehicles used to drive across Rock Creek. The crossing was improved in 1904 by laying concrete in the streambed, but drivers still had to negotiate several inches of water. Until 1994, people still were allowed to drive across here. The ford originally got its name from a nearby building that used the stream's cool water to chill dairy products.

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Need to Know, Runner Notes

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.


Rate This Run

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Run

Check In



Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 1 vote


  3.0 from 1 vote
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Run Rankings


35 Views Last Month
1,212 Since Apr 20, 2016



White-tailed deer in Rock Creek Park.
Apr 20, 2016 near Washington, DC
Catch a view of the sky
Apr 20, 2016 near Washington, DC
Fort DeRussy placard.
Apr 20, 2016 near Washington, DC
Fort DeRussy marker.
Mar 8, 2016 near Washington, DC
Fort DeRussy north ditch.
Apr 20, 2016 near Washington, DC
Fort DeRussy North Ramparts.
Mar 8, 2016 near Washington, DC


Trail Run Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Running