Washington D.C. Local Life

The Neighborhood Guide to Running in D.C.

There is no place more historic to run than Washington D.C. With its monuments, acres of parks, and waterfront, the city has become a favorite for runners. With more than 200 outings scheduled each week via local run clubs and specialty running stores, there is a run out there for everyone. But where are the best neighborhoods for runners? That depends on which kind of run you are looking for each day.

Here are the best D.C. neighborhoods for running trails, run clubs, and scenic areas to enjoy on foot. 

Georgetown

Georgetown Washington D.C.
Georgetown, Washington D.C.

Nestled on the banks of the Potomac, this neighborhood offers urban landscapes, waterfront views, and nature trails. If you are looking to tackle your hill repeats for the week, Georgetown has some of the steepest paved hills in all of metro D.C.

If flat ground is what your training plan calls for, the Capital Crescent Trail has you covered. Accessible from the Georgetown waterfront, this stretch of trail extends into Silver Springs, Maryland. The 11-miles* of the tree-lined canopy of the once single-track railroad offers runners a gradual grade perfect for any skill level. The path is also plowed in the winter, offering runners a trail escape that won’t leave their feet cold and wet.

If you would rather run along the water, take advantage of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal trail. Starting in Georgetown and extending over 180 miles, this soft dirt surface trail runs alongside the Potomac River and connects the Eastern seaboard to the Great Lakes and the Ohio River.

It’s a favorite among area runners because of its wide and flat shaded path with mile markers to track your distance. While most runners stay within the D.C. district limits when running, the trail gives runners the option to go as far as their legs will take them.

Georgetown is also home to one of the more well-renowned running clubs in the D.C. area, the Georgetown Running Club. If you are serious about running and looking to improve your running game, this is probably the club for you.

It is also a great place to stock up on all of your running gear. From homegrown favorites like Georgetown Running Company to national standouts like Georgetown Nike, if you need something running related, this neighborhood has you covered.

*Currently the trail is closed from Bethesda to Silver Springs while Purple Line construction is being completed. It is scheduled to reopen in 2021.

Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle, Washington D.C.
Dupont Circle, Washington D.C.

With its proximity to Embassy Row and Rock Creek Park, Dupont Circle offers runners the option of nature trails or views of some of the most historic homes in the D.C. area.

The four-mile running loop from Massachusetts Avenue up toward the National Cathedral will take you past over 40 diplomatic mansions, 110 years of architectural history, and the residence of the Vice President (the Naval Observatory).

If you are looking to get away from the urban landscape, then the trails of Rock Creek Park are where you should run. Cutting vertically across Northwest D.C., the 2,000 acres of park offers runners miles of trail accessible all year long. From the flat, paved road that runs along Beach Drive to dirt trails that offer uphill battles no matter what your training plan calls for, Rock Creek as a path for you.

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.
Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.

If you are looking for an iconic D.C. neighborhood, then look no further than the Capitol Hill. For runners, this neighborhood offers routes that pass some of the most historic landmarks in the nation.

Running from the Capital to the Lincoln Memorial, this four-mile loop will take you past the Washington Monument, the reflecting pool, and all the Smithsonian Museums. With a mix of concrete sidewalks, grass, and dirt paths, this route will force you to stay focused as the terrain continuously changes under your feet.

If you are looking to get your hills in for the day, a great route in the area is the one-mile perimeter of the Capitol Complex. Make sure to load up on carbs before taking on this route as the grade and elevation gain are both challenging. These two routes in Capitol Hill are great for early bird runners who like to get their miles in just as the sun is rising and before the city wakes up for the day.

Capitol Hill is also home to Lincoln Park, known historically as Lincoln Square. You can find the park exactly one mile east of the Capitol building and just four blocks northeast of the Eastern Market. This park offers a one-and-a-half-mile loop that is great when you just need to get a quick workout in for the day. It is also one of the safer routes in the Capitol Hill area as there are always people out and about around the park.

If you get tired of running through the monuments of Capitol Hill head over to Anacostia Park. The 1,200-acre park is home to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail that stretches for 28 miles. As a runner, you will be able to access 12 miles of the 28-mile trail that runs alongside both sides of the river and hosts several races throughout the year. If you are looking for a flat, easy run, this is the route to take.

The Capitol Hill neighborhood is also home to the Capitol Hill Running Club. Formed in 2000, it offers its members morning runs 3 days a week and is open to runners of all skill levels and distances.

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