Although it’s a big city, Washington, DC and it’s surrounding suburbs lay claim to an abundance of long, scenic running trails. If you live near Georgetown, Bethesda, Maryland, or Silver Spring, Maryland, it’s easy to hop on a trail and enjoy a long traffic-free run. Here are two of the most popular trails in the area.
Capital Crescent Trail
The Capital Crescent Trail is an 11-mile trail that stretches from Silver Spring, Maryland to Georgetown. Seven miles of the trail, from Georgetown to Bethesda, is paved, but still features an adjacent stone-dust trail for runners. The remaining 4 miles of the trail is dirt. Washington, DC can get intolerably hot and humid in the summer – running is usually the last thing on your mind. However, the Capital Crescent Trail is lined with trees that offer generous shade to make your jaunt more enjoyable.
I enjoy running this trail earlier in the morning on the weekend when it’s less crowded. Later in the morning and during the day on Saturday and Sunday, the trail near Bethesda becomes crowded with families taking bike rides or just enjoying a walk outdoors. Everyone is generally polite; it’s not like dodging tourist on the National Mall!
Where to access the Capital Crescent Trail:
Silver Spring, MD – Brookville Road and Stewart Ave
Bethesda, MD – Wisconsin and Elm Street
Georgetown – Water St NW near M Street NW and Whitehurst Freeway NW
C&O Canal Trails
The C&O (Chesapeake & Ohio) Canal National Historical Park boasts a whopping 184 miles of biking and hiking trails that extends from Georgetown to Cumberland, Maryland. The trail hugs the curves of the Potomac River as it winds through Bethesda, Maryland and Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. The scenery is amazing, and, just like the Capital Crescent Trail, most parts are shaded. If you’re very serious about your running or want to push your endurance to another level, you can run the entire 184 miles. Easily accessible campsites, restrooms, and picnic areas are located along the trail.
Generally, the path is more crowded in the Washington, DC metro area (near Georgetown and Bethesda), especially on the weekends. During the week, many area workers try to sneak in a quick run session, but the trail never gets too crowded. For something new, try running into Georgetown from one of the outer access points and settle down on the waterfront for a relaxing brunch.
There are many areas to access the C&O Trail. To find an access point in your area, visit http://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/index.htm. Here you can also find more detailed information about the trail.
CCCT, “Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail,” www.cctrail.org
National Park Service, “Chesapeake and Ohio Canal,” http://www.nps.gov/choh/index.html