skip navigation
The Washington Monument surrounded by half mast flags

Where to Go for A Beautiful Run in DC

By Erika Howder, 02/03/18, 7:30PM EST


Make sure you take advantage of these five running hot spots.

FEB 03, 2018

Fall is my favorite time of year to run in the D.C. metro area. The temps have dropped, the sun is usually shining, and the leaves are beautiful. While I often run in my own neighborhood, this is the time of year when I try to get out of my usual haunts and onto some of the prettier running paths in the area. So whether you are a resident of the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area, or on vacation doing touristy things, make sure you take advantage of the five running hot spots.

1. Roosevelt Island

The path that circles the entire island is about 1.5 miles long and varies from trail to boardwalk. Despite being only minutes from Rosslyn and easily accessible from the Mount Vernon trail, the island feels remote (if you ignore the planes overhead). Bicycles are prohibited, and you are surrounded by nature as you run.

Roosevelt Island Picture

2. Mount Vernon Trail

This 18-mile trail stretches between Roosevelt Island and Mount Vernon. It’s a nicely paved path that winds between the Potomac River and George Washington Parkway while offering numerous distance options. It has minor rollers with a few actual hills, and most of the path is surrounded by trees, grass, and water. My favorite places to park and run are either at Belle Haven if I want to run towards Mount Vernon or Gravelly Point to run towards the city.

Bikers on Mt Vernon Trail

3. National Mall

The beauty of the National Mall comes from the monuments and the history that it represents. It’s easily accessible from the metro, mostly flat, and has lots of different sites to see. This time of year is a great time to run there, as the number of tourists has decreased since the summer.

A picture of the mall reflected off of a lake

4. Great Falls

This is one of the few areas relatively close to D.C. that has true trails. It’s absolutely beautiful in the fall, and trail options vary from wide paths to technical single tracks. Great Falls offers a total of 15 miles of pathways, but also allows access to trails from Riverbend Park. If you want to run there on the weekends, make sure you get there early, as it’s a popular hiking spot in the beautiful fall weather.

Great Falls and trees in the spring

5. C & O Canal

This mostly flat trail stretches all the way from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland. It’s fairly wide, and is a packed dirt and gravel surface, which some prefer over the paved paths that make up many local trails. Much of the trail is right along the water and offers beautiful views of nature. It can be accessed from Georgetown, various parks in Maryland, Great Falls and other places further west into Virginia.

Canal picture with an abandoned bike

These are only a few of the running options in the area. We are so fortunate to have miles and miles of paths in and around D.C.!

For more from Erika Howder, visit MCM Mama Runs.

Related Articles

  • Rock 'n' Roll

    Go Local, Stay United

  • 04/28/2021, 2:00pm EDT
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll and United Airlines to spotlight small businesses through new campaign.
  • Read More