United States

Charlottesville, VA

A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Places to Run in Charlottesville

Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the banks of the Rivanna River, Charlottesville — sometimes referred to affectionately as C’Ville — is a historic city best known as the home of presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. Visitors travel from all over to see Jefferson’s “Monticello” plantation and The University of Virginia, but Charlottesville is also popular for its Downtown Mall, arts and culture festivals, and as a launching pad for outdoor adventure in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Running in Charlottesville features great beauty and variety.

Charlottesville nurtures a dedicated and widespread running community, where training groups are abundant and athletes frequent a variety of routes in spite of the hot and humid summer weather. Favorite places to run include the University of Virginia campus, sections of the 20 mile urban Rivanna Trail, the downtown streets, and the Saunders Monticello Trail. For a gorgeous residential run, it doesn’t get any better than the Bellair (Foxhaven) neighborhood. Just outside the city, scenic dirt roads split out in every direction, making rural runs possible on Dick Woods Road, Sugar Hollow Road, and in Keene. Aside from easy access to the Appalachian Trail and other major networks, trail runners will enjoy the level ground of Preddy Creek Trail Park.

While there is no public transport to some of the rural routes mentioned here, getting around the city of Charlottesville is easy on the Charlottesville Area Transportation buses, or the free trolley service around major city attractions.

Special thanks to the Ragged Mountain Running Shop, Visit Charlottesville, and the Charlottesville Track Club for their help and  providing many of the route maps listed below!

Editor's Picks

Some of our favorite runs in Charlottesville, VA

UVA Campus

The University of Virginia is the heart of Charlottesville, and the Jeffersonian architecture of its beautiful grounds... more...

Rivanna Trails

The Rivanna Trail encircles Charlotteville for about 20 miles, covering prime ground on the banks of the... more...

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UVA Campus

Charlottesville, VA

The University of Virginia is the heart of Charlottesville, and the Jeffersonian architecture of its beautiful grounds makes for a wonderful run of any length. We have several mapped routes, ranging from 3 to 7 miles.
Explore

Rivanna Trails

Charlottesville, VA

The Rivanna Trail encircles Charlotteville for about 20 miles, covering prime ground on the banks of the Rivanna River and through a series of city parks. Paved and dirt trail sections.
Explore

Downtown Charlottesville

Charlottesville, VA

Our friends in Charlottesville have mapped 3 mile and 8 mile loops of the city's pretty downtown, with its tree-lined streets, pedestrian mall, and fun commercial areas. Can be combined with the UVA campus and the Rivanna Trails
Explore

Preddy Creek Trail

Charlottesville, VA

Preddy Creek Trail Park occupies 521 relatively flat but beautiful acres. A full loop around the main trail system is about 3.5 miles, but runners can easily add on mileage by exploring cross paths and extensions.
Explore

UVA Campus

Charlottesville, VA

The University of Virginia is the heart of Charlottesville, and the Jeffersonian architecture of its beautiful grounds makes for a wonderful run of any length. We have several mapped routes, ranging from 3 to 7 miles.
Explore

Rivanna Trails

Charlottesville, VA

The Rivanna Trail encircles Charlotteville for about 20 miles, covering prime ground on the banks of the Rivanna River and through a series of city parks. Paved and dirt trail sections.
Explore

Downtown Charlottesville

Charlottesville, VA

Our friends in Charlottesville have mapped 3 mile and 8 mile loops of the city's pretty downtown, with its tree-lined streets, pedestrian mall, and fun commercial areas. Can be combined with the UVA campus and the Rivanna Trails
Explore

Charlottesville has hot, humid summers and cool winters. Summer temps typically rise into the high 80s (28-30C), with nights remaining warm. Most rain in summer comes from downpours and thunderstorms. Winters are cool, with highs in the mid-40s (6C) and nights dipping below freezing, with occasional snow and ice. The gorgeous fall and spring are the best seasons for running in Charlottesville.

See VisitCharlottesville.org for hotels and more info. For access to the best running right outside your door, try to stay a mile or two from the UVA campus or downtown.

When it comes to running stores near Charlottesville, Ragged Mountain Running Company and Crozet Running are the top choices! They were super helpful in helping us with this guide.

The Charlottesville Track Club and the Charlottesville Area Trail Runners host frequent group runs.

Runners can find a race almost any given weekend in Charlottesville. Here’s a good event calendar, courtesy of Ragged Mountain Running Shop.

Some of the most popular events include:

Charlottesville Marathon

Charlottesville Ten-Miler

Charlottesville Women’s Four-Miler