The District is one of the most beautiful places in the country to run outside. The National Mall offers a long, flat, packed dirt loop bordered by a number of the world’s most recognizable monuments and museums. Outside of downtown, there are running routes along the Potomac river, hugging the C&O canal, and twisting and turning through leafy green Rock Creek Park.
And while the list goes on, getting to some of our region's trails requires a long drive. This map shows ten of the best places to run that are easily-reached by Metro:
The team at Park Van Ness, an apartment building on Connecticut Avenue NW, recently put this list of trails together:
Rock Creek Park's Western Ridge Trail: This trail, with easy access just off Connecticut Avenue is a quiet, leafy escape from city sounds. The second you duck onto the trail, you’re enveloped in cool shadows and trickling streams.
Roosevelt Island: Just a short walk from Georgetown across Key Bridge, Roosevelt Island offers several trail loops for walkers and joggers. The elevated boardwalk sits above the grass and water and makes for excellent birdwatching. The outer loop clocks in at just over a mile and a half. Run it twice for a flat and fast 5K.
The Custis Trail: A favorite running path for Washingtonians and Virginians alike, this hilly four mile trail has several easy access points, eventually linking up with the popular Washington and Old Dominion trail in Arlington.
The Mount Vernon Trail: The Mount Vernon Trail is one of the best options for long distance runners looking to get their mileage in. This relatively flat, paved path takes you along the Potomac, through Old Town Alexandria, and along scenic forested paths until you reach the historical Mount Vernon Estate about 16 miles from the start.
The Anacostia River Walk Trail: This trail is just several minutes away from the Navy Yard Metro station and takes runners along a gorgeous riverside path. Take in views of the city across the water and refuel post-run with a smoothie or pressed juice at Turning Natural.
The National Mall: This is the quintessential running loop for tourists or anyone willing to head out before the crowds set in. The large dirt and pebble path from the Washington Monument to the Capitol allows runners to see DC’s best sites and snap photos along the way.
Rock Creek Park's Melvin Hazen Trail: The Melvin Hazen Trail is just one of many excellent loops within the Rock Creek Park system. Hop away from traffic and take off into the woods just a few blocks from the University of the District of Columbia's campus.
Hains Point: For those runners looking for a three-mile loop or somewhere to practice mile repeats, Hains Point offers spectacular views and the flattest, fastest course around. Do be ready to share the path, as many cyclists and triathletes also use it for training.
C&O Canal Trail: This hard sand path follows the canal from Georgetown all the way up through Harper’s Ferry and beyond. With views of the Potomac and the mansions sitting atop Virginia’s sheer cliffs over the water, this path gives you the best of a natural setting in an urban environment.
The Capital Crescent Trail: This 11-mile asphalt trail runs parallel to the C&O canal for several miles before veering off into its own territory. The Capital Crescent trail is well shaded and feels fully removed from the city while also providing a safe, direct thoroughfare for runners, walkers, and cyclists.
With summer finally here, make sure to get out and give these trails a go!
Thumbnail: Image by Park Van Ness used with permission.