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7293 Views 11 Replies Latest reply: Nov 22, 2011 8:04 PM by GinnyinPA
nudelbomber Amateur 19 posts since
Aug 9, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

Aug 12, 2010 2:22 PM

Trail running in the DC area

I live in Washington DC, up on Capitol Hill. It's really a wonderful area for middle distance running - the run from my house down along the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial and back is 6 miles. Simply inspiring...


However, DC is a city and most of my routes (well currently ALL my routes) are on pavement or the Mall's loose gravel. I'm in the midst of marathon training and looking for some trails to mix it up and get back to the woods a little bit. I was raised in CT so I love a nice long trail run and miss the opportunity to do them frequently.


Anyone from the DC area know of some trails where I could do some mileage and take in some nature? I have a car and could drive to get there.....

  • BayRunner22 Rookie 6 posts since
    Jul 18, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Aug 17, 2010 9:15 PM (in response to nudelbomber)
    Re: Trail running in the DC area

    I have the same question. I'm doing a trail half-marathon in December and, since I'm a newcomer to DC, I don't know where to go for good trail running. Any help is appreciated.

    3/20/2011     LA Marathon

    5/15/2011     Bay to Breakers

  • dwm082 Community Moderator 1,063 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Aug 19, 2010 1:34 AM (in response to nudelbomber)
    Re: Trail running in the DC area

    I'm not from the DC area, but  my Google-fu turns up a couple of resources that provide what appear to be helpful suggestions:


    1) A post from the I Run Far blog:

    2) A brief article from the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club:


    Good luck finding some good trails!



    2012 Race Schedule

    Providence Marathon (4:48:55)

    Buffalo Half-Marathon (2:03:16)

    Chicago Marathon (October 7)

  • sbarron01 Rookie 2 posts since
    Apr 13, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Nov 6, 2010 12:53 PM (in response to nudelbomber)
    Re: Trail running in the DC area

    Head up to American University on the corner of Mass. Ave & Nebraska. Two blocks south of Ward Circle (next to Foxhall Apt) and you can pick up the Glover Park trail. If you want to start at the beginning of the trail, head down Nebraska towards Tenleytown, turn right on Van Ness. Behind the McDonald's on Wisconsin is the trail head (across the street from Johnsons Garden Center). It's 3 miles of beautiful trail (rocks, hard pack) down to Canal Road (Georgetown, Potomac River), all downhill, in the woods, turn around and back for a great 10k run (400 foot elevation change). You only cross 4 roads. Deer and owl sightings.

    About 1/4 mi. on the trail, on the Mass. Ave side, you can hang a right and pick up a .5 mi feeder trail that takes you over to Battery Kimble park. From there, hang a left down to MacArthur Blvd., run maybe a little over a 1.5 mile to pick back up the Glover Park Trail on your left.

    Or, from AU, head north on Mass. Ave thru Westmoreland Circle into Maryland, pick up the Little Falls Trail on your left, run on it for 1 mi. and connect with Capital Cresent Trail, take it down to the C&O Canal into Georgetown, turn left and pick back up the Glover Park Trail for a 10 mi. run. 

    I run one of these routes 3 days a week before work. Kinda dark now if you're out before 7am or, when I was training for Marine Corps Marathon, after 6pm, but lights and reflective tape worked great.

  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Nov 6, 2010 3:44 PM (in response to nudelbomber)
    Re: Trail running in the DC area

    I'm not from the DC area but I talk to a lot of people who are, and they're always talking about running on various trails.  Go to a running store in your area and ask.  I'm sure they will have info.  Or do a google search for "running trails" "washington dc".




  • monstrous Rookie 23 posts since
    Sep 22, 2005
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Jan 16, 2011 9:23 PM (in response to nudelbomber)
    Re: Trail running in the DC area

    My favorites within an hour and a half from you. Appalachian Trail from C and O Canal to War corespondants memorial, there is water at the memorial so you can reload before heading back, 13 miles. Be sure to stop at the Weaverton overlook. The Maryland Heights Trail to the Old Stone Fort, then down to the heights overlook, and back to the bottom. East on C and O Canal to the bridge to Harpers Ferry, pick up Appalavhian Trail in West Virginia, cross into Va and pick up the Loudon Heights Trail (left). After dropping down off the mountain follow the road across the bridge to MD (right) there is a gas station just before crossing the bridge where you can refuel. Afetr crossing the bridge go left under bridge and cross railroad tracks to pick up C and O canal again (right) and run back to your car. 17 miles. Shoot me an email if you need more info, these runs are epic.

  • Mavenger Rookie 1 posts since
    Jan 1, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Feb 1, 2011 6:56 AM (in response to nudelbomber)
    Re: Trail running in the DC area

    There is so much good running in your area!  I'm up at Fort Meade, and I drive down there for the trails -- you can run along the rock creek park trail, or if you're up for a short drive (about 5-10 min from capitol hill), go west on K street, take the middle ramp down to water street -- park anywhere along the storefronts there and start running west along the C&O trail!  I've run 20+ miles along the trail... this is the same trail (much further west) that the JFK 50 miler is run on.  I really like the C&O for the scenery -- you've got the river on your one side and the old canal on your other.  The path that you run along is the old towpath the oxen would use to tow barges upriver... lots of history around there.  also, you can stop at the lock houses and see some sights on your run.  Love it!


    Also, Rock creek park trail runs along... Rock creek/Potomac Parkway, the road you drive under (by taking the middle ramp from K street) to get to the C&O. You say you run along the mall -- if you run west past the monument along the trails there, past the WW2 memorial, go around the north side of the Lincoln memorial, and you can cross over to the parkway.  Here it is in google maps, which is pretty accurate:



    Hope that helps!



  • Trail.Runner Rookie 5 posts since
    Jul 15, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Mar 16, 2011 7:43 AM (in response to nudelbomber)
    Re: Trail running in the DC area

    if you're up for a real hoot, try this ~12 mile loop on the Appalachian Trail; its a bit closer than Harper's Ferry WV:


    1. Drive West on Route 7, beyond Leesburg to "Bluemont"  (LINK)


    2. Park at Bears Den Park ($3 cash in drop-box)


    3. Run the trail to first gravel road (~7 miles)


    4. Up the gravel road (very steep) to Mount Weather Emergency Ops Center (LINK)


    5. A few miles back to your car on Blueridge Mountain Road.


    I have a Google Earth layer that I can post tonight, if you're interested......just make sure you bring water & some power bars!!



  • Gray83 Rookie 2 posts since
    Mar 4, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Apr 18, 2011 5:20 AM (in response to nudelbomber)
    Re: Trail running in the DC area

    Another one that no one is really mentioning is the Potomac Heritage/Blue Blaze Trail. If you park at Roosevelt Island, going northbound on George Washington Memorial Pkwy. Take the trail out of the north end of the parking lot instead of going up the ramp to the key bridge. If you follow that trail you can go all the way past 495 outer loop and beyond along the potomac river. Has a few technical sections and a nice climb or two thrown in here and there. VHTRC puts on a 50k in the fall using around 80% of this trail as the course.

  • Tysen813 Amateur 10 posts since
    Nov 4, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Jun 26, 2011 7:24 PM (in response to nudelbomber)
    Re: Trail running in the DC area

    Hey Nudelbomber. I'm from the DC area (NOVA) and trained for my first 2 marathons mostly in the Manassas battlefield area. Miles for days when it comes to covered trails. Route 29 will get you straight there and parking is readily available by the Stone House, which will be on your right side. Your run will start off on a 45-degree slope for about 70 yards and from there, the woods is about 1/3 of a mile or so in front of you. Great trails, a few Civil War markers along the way, well worth the trip out from the city.


    There is also another covered field in the Fairfax-Centreville area that goes around a large lake yet you may have to inquire with some of the personal training folks who plan running events at the Lifestyle Family Fitness Gym, which is a 24-hour facility on the left side of I-66 heading into Centreville and 10 minutes from Manassas. Hope that this helps a bit.

    Races Completed:

    2000 St. Patrick's Day 10K, Washington, DC

    2000 Motorola 10K, Ft. Bragg, NC

    2000 Fort Bragg 10-Miler

    2000 Mother's Day 10K, Ft. Bragg, NC

    2001 St. Patrick's Day 10K, Washington, DC

    2001 Lynchburg Half-Marathon, Lynchburg, VA

    2001 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon

    2011 Firecracker 5K, Huntsville, AL

  • laaronson Rookie 1 posts since
    Mar 27, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Nov 22, 2011 7:10 PM (in response to nudelbomber)
    Trail running in the DC area

    Check out Great Falls Park, tons of trails to play in. Also, Difficult Run is good fun too. Enjoy!

  • GinnyinPA Pro 150 posts since
    Sep 29, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Nov 22, 2011 8:04 PM (in response to nudelbomber)
    Trail running in the DC area

    I lived in Maryland, just outside the district, for a lot of years and did a lot of hiking in the area.  Most of the hiking trails are good for running as well.  Check out the PATC guide on circuit hikes in VA, WV, MD and PA for some ideas, or the Fifty Hikes Within 50 Miles of DC book.  If you want to get a lot of easy miles, try the C&O Canal - it's over 200 miles long, and starts in Georgetown.  It's surprisingly pretty, especially in the off season.  Seneca Creek Trail is about 20 miles long has some rolling hills.  You can do loops from 3 - 12 or more miles down in Prince William Forest Park.  That's a beautiful area.  Cedarville State Park has a 7 mile loop.  Rosaryville SP has a hilly 9 mile loop - but there are a lot of bikes on the weekends.  Frederick, about 1 1/2 north of the city, has the Catoctin Trail - about 30 miles long. 

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