Great Running Trails in D.C.

Beneath all the hustle and bustle of the city, behind all the buses and trains, suits and ties, buildings and restaurants, there is a hidden allure about D.C. The nation’s capital is not just a city of tourism and politics, but is also a fitness loving city full of outdoor recreation and exercise challenges for everyone. Many cities have one or two well known places to go for a jog, but our city is occupied with numerous trails and parks to walk, jog, or run on. Yes, different trails than the sidewalk you use to sprint to the Metro every morning. Here are four great places to go for a run in D.C., where you are sure to find one that fits your personal running style.

For the 5K runner. East Potomac Park (top) in D.C., near National Mall, may have a reputation for being a busy tourist attraction. But once you’re on the trail you won’t be distracted by them. You may see people having picnics in the park, engaged in group activities, and you’ll notice tons of bikers. This is a 3.2 mile trail, or loop, around the Hains Point peninsula. There is parking around the trail but you won’t find the same hassled traffic that is around the city. Running the loop around the park is the perfect distance to train for a 5K. The best place to begin, if you are taking the Metro, is to get off at the Smithsonian stop. Go west on Independence Avenue, then South on 14th street until you reach Ohio Drive Southwest. Ohio Dr. is the road that the trail is on, so you’ll make a left and see that Ohio Dr. takes you in a loop around the peninsula. If you are driving, there is free parking around Ohio Dr. Most of the parking spots have a 3 hour limit.

For the visually stimulated runner. If you are inspired by running with lots of people and sights around you, West Potomac Park is the trail for you. Especially if you love a short and simple afternoon jog or walk, the West Potomac Park trail is approximately 1.75 miles around the Tidal Basin. The trail overlooks the water with a view of the Jefferson Memorial. This trail is also known for the famous Cherry Blossom trees, which only bloom in the Spring. Keep in mind that the park is often crowded during tourist seasons as there are numerous monuments and memorials on the path, so if your in the mood to see some history, this is the run for you. If you get off at the Smithsonian metro, you can take Independence Avenue all the way to the trail. If you are driving, there is a parking lot right on the trail, off Independence Avenue or Maine Avenue. Parking spots are free with a 3-hour time limit.

For the serene runner. Capital Crescent trail (above), used frequently by bikers, is a 7.5 mile long trail that begins in Georgetown and ends in Bestheda Maryland. This is a beautiful path for runners who enjoy a quiet, scenic trail in the privacy of the woods, and is a great getaway from the usual city bustle. Surrounded by trees and nature, it remains shaded in most parts, making it ideal for summer outdoor exercise.

It can be entered in Georgetown, off Water Street NW, underneath the intersection of the Whitehurst and Keystone Bridges. There is metered parking along Water St, and some of the side roads. The nearest Metro’s are Foggy Bottom, and Rosslyn Metro. Though starting at Rosslyn would require you to walk across the Keystone Bridge, just over half a mile.

For the marathon runner. While this is most commonly known as a bike route, Rock Creek Park trail is a beautiful and relaxing place to run. This 18.6 mile trail runs through the city of D.C., beginning at the Lincoln Memorial, and ending in Silver Spring, Maryland. If people aren’t up for running 18 miles, many find a place along the trail that they like to begin, and turn around when they feel they’ve reached their limit. There are several metro stops that the trail is accessible from, including Foggy Bottom, Dupont Circle, and Woodley Park Zoo metro stations.

The great thing about being active in a city so steeped in culture and history is that no matter where you run, every trail has its own particular points of interest. Take advantage of the outdoor recreation the city has to offer! Be sure to safe when running, be respectful of the trails by not littering and always stay hydrated.

About Katie Krieger (4 Articles)
Katie is a former Floridian who recently moved to the DC area. She is excited about exploring the new city enjoying everything the culture has to offer. She is a recent college graduate working toward breaking into the journalism field. She loves writing, taking pictures, being outdoors, and is always looking for a new challenge.