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Group of people running beside Reflecting Pool on National Mall

10 Great Running Trails & Jogging Routes in Washington, DC

Swap the treadmill and head outdoors to one of DC’s many scenic running paths and trails.

When Pierre Charles L’Enfant laid out the city plans for the nation's capital, he included wide avenues, public squares and grand buildings. The District is also mostly flat and home to many trees, rivers, creeks and canals, making the city a runner’s dream. It's time to pound the pavement at these scenic spots.


Make tracks on the National Mall

Person running in front of Lincoln Memorial

All runners should clock some miles on the National Mall. Jogging past grand monuments, memorials and museums is a truly unique DC experience and the Mall is mostly car-free. The paths and monuments are illuminated at night.


Cruise the C&O Canal

Person running along the C&O Canal

The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal's history begins with George Washington’s recommendation to build waterways connecting the Eastern seaboard with the Great Lakes and the Ohio River. You won’t see anyone transporting hogs, salt or whiskey on the C&O Canal these days, though you are likely to see joggers taking advantage of the soft dirt surface and shady path. The track starts in Georgetown and stretches 184.5 miles – though most runners stay within District borders.


Sprint the Watergate Steps

Person sprinting up the Watergate Steps

Between the Lincoln Memorial and the Potomac River lies a set of grand steps that seemingly lead to nowhere. The Watergate Steps were originally built to provide an impressive entrance for visiting dignitaries arriving in DC by boat. While that didn't take hold, the steps did provide the basis for the name of an infamous office block nearby, and a way for runners to build their stamina and endurance.


Trot through Rock Creek Park

Couple running in Rock Creek Park

DC has the oldest and largest urban park in the national park system, so it’s not surprising that there are plenty of options for raising your heart rate in Rock Creek Park. Runners can stick to the paved paths, head off-road on the extensive trail network or take advantage of a car-free Beach Drive when sections are closed to traffic on weekends. The Park is stunning in all seasons.


Stay on pace at Hains Point

People biking and running in Hains Point during Cherry Blossom season

Hains Point is part of East Potomac Park, a man-made island surrounded by the Tidal Basin, Potomac River and Washington Channel. The green space attracts recreation seekers of all kinds with tennis courts, a golf course, plenty of parkland for social sports and a shoreline for fishing. A loop of roughly three miles takes runners to Hains Point at the tip of the peninsula and back.


Get active on the Anacostia Riverwalk

Person running along Anacostia River

The southeast pocket of DC has undergone significant development in recent years, including a continuous 20-mile Anacostia Riverwalk Trail that runs along both sides of the river. Plan your route to include a cool down in the canal basin wading pool and riverside gardens in Yards Park on the Capitol Riverfront.


Catch a breeze along the Georgetown Waterfront

Group of people running beside Georgetown Waterfront

While there's a wide range of things to see and do in DC’s oldest neighborhood, runners will want to skip the cobblestone streets and high-end boutiques and opt for running trails and paths along the Potomac River. The Capital Crescent Trail, which is accessible from the waterfront, extends all the way into Bethesda, Md.


Find your stride on Embassy Row

Embassy Row in DC

What a run along Embassy Row loses in street crossings, it makes up for by passing some of the grandest, most historic homes in DC. The stretch of Massachusetts Avenue NW between Dupont Circle and the National Cathedral (on Wisconsin Avenue NW) takes runners past countless embassies, over Rock Creek Park and by the U.S. Naval Observatory – home to the vice president. "The Row" also provides a steady elevation gain for those who want to test their mettle uphill.


Conquer the Mount Vernon Trail

Mount Vernon Trail

The Mount Vernon Trail follows the Potomac River between Theodore Roosevelt Island and George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The 18-mile path has plenty of diversity to keep runners preoccupied, passing through wetlands, wooded areas, parks, yacht clubs and historic neighborhoods, such as Old Town Alexandria.


Get off-road in Glover Archbold Park

DC offers plenty of natural areas that will make you feel like you’ve left the city altogether. One such oasis is Glover Archbold Park, a stretch of forest running from Tenley Circle to the Potomac River in Georgetown. The pedestrian-only park is a favorite for trail runners who enjoy the abundant shade and encounters with wildlife such as deer and migratory birds.


Turn your run into a training session and compete in one of these organized races and marathons in Washington, DC.

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