United States

Washington, DC

A guide to running in central Washington, D.C. See our companion guide to the nearby suburbs in Maryland and Virgina

Washington, D.C. is one of our favorite running cities. The city is beautifully laid out for runners, with wide streets and sidewalks radiating from the Capitol and miles of paths around its most visited destinations. A run on The National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial, and then out to the FDR and MLK Memorials, is one of the most inspiring runs in the world. Catching the Ellipse during Cherry Blossom season the first two weeks in April, should be on any runner’s bucket list. Embassy Row is a good area to do some hills.

In addition to some wonderful routes in the heart of the city, our guide to running in Washington, D.C. includes beautiful paths along Rock Creek Park and following the old B&O railroad. The Anacostia Riverwalk is a relatively new addition to the D.C. running scene, with 15+ miles of trails just south of the Capitol. For longer distances, we recommend the C&O Canal Trail and the Mount Vernon Trail, which bridges into our companion guides for Virginia and Maryland just over the D.C. border.

Good public transportation helps the running scene in D.C. The metro runs all over the city except and into Maryland and Virginia.  Washington also has a growing bike share program and an expanding network of bike lanes on its unusually wide streets. Note: runners should be aware of Washington’s famously hot and humid summers.

More: Fairfax County, VA  More: Montgomery County, MD

Editor's Picks

Some of our favorite runs in Washington, DC

The Memorials

A truly inspiring run, incorporating scenery, history, and beauty. The core “Memorial Run” incorporates the Washington Monument,... more...

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  • All Routes
  • Iconic Routes
  • Weather & Climate
  • Where To Stay
  • Stores & Group Runs
  • Events

The Memorials

Washington, DC: Central

A truly inspiring run, incorporating scenery, history, and beauty. The core “Memorial Run” incorporates the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson, FDR Memorial, and MLK Memorials. Catch during Cherry Blossoms!
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East Potomac Park

Washington, DC: Central

4.4 mile loop along the outer edge of this man-made island, adjacent to the Jefferson Memorial. Great views of the water, Reagan Airport and D.C. landmarks. Can be a standalone run or done in combo with Mall/Memorials tour.
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Anacostia Riverwalk Trail

Washington, DC: Central

A recent addition to the D.C. running scene. 20 miles of trail, 12 of which is mainly complete. We've mapped a great 8-mile loop between South Capitol St. and Benning Rd. on both sides of the River. Anacostia Park is site of weekly Parkrun.
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The Memorials

Washington, DC: Central

A truly inspiring run, incorporating scenery, history, and beauty. The core “Memorial Run” incorporates the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson, FDR Memorial, and MLK Memorials. Catch during Cherry Blossoms!
Explore

Washington is a good city for running year-round. The biggest issue is the height of summer, where temps average near 90F (32C) during the day and stay in the 70s at night. It’s humid. Running from mid-June through mid-December can be a challenge. Autumn is gorgeous and holds on well into November. Winters are cool but rarely frigid, with temps dipping below freezing at night. It snows a few times a year and the roads/pathways can get icy. Spring is known for the famous cherry blossoms, which peak in the first two weeks of April.

washington-dc-climograph

The map below provides a good idea of where the areas to stay are in proximity to the best running routes. Try to stay within a mile or so from some point along the National Mall, if you can. Basically the rectangle west of the Capitol/Union Station and south of K Street. If you end up a little beyond that, you can always use the Metro or do a Capitol Bike Share drop off. If you are staying in the Dupont Circle area or further north, Embassy Row and Rock Creek Park are good running bets. If in the Georgetown area, lovely sections of the C&O Trail and the Rock Creek trail are accessible. If you are staying over the border in the Alexandria, Virginia area, connect to the Mt. Vernon trail.

dc-hotel-map

Running Stores

Downtown
Potomac River Running Store. The best option near the Mall/Memorial area. Super helpful folks. Also numerous suburban locations

Georgetown area
Georgetown Running Company. Best independently owned running store in the Georgetown area.

Nike Georgetown. Numerous group runs, training runs.

Athleta, Nike Store, Lululemon are also all in Georgetown.

North area
Best bets in Dupont/Rock Creek/Embassy row area are:

Pacers Running Company. On 14th St. They also have locations in the Navy Yard, Arlington, and Alexandria. Numerous free group runs throughout the week and also paid coaching/training runs.

Fleet Feet DC.  In the Rock Creek/Adams Morgan area. Numerous group runs.

Road Runner Sports Iconic, family owned running store with locations in Rockville, MD, Elkridge, MD, Falls Church, VA, and Sterling, VA

Run Groups and Run Clubs

North area
Pacers Running Company has group runs throughout the week, nearly every morning and evening and on Saturday morning. Schedule

Fleet Feet has group runs in the Adams Morgan/Rock Creek park area. Sundays at 9am, and Ladies Night Wednesdays at 6pm. Schedule

Mall/Memorial area
Potomac River Running Company has “all comers” fun runs and on Wednesdays at 6:30pm and other events throughout the week from their F St. store. Schedule

Georgetown area
Nike Georgetown has numerous group runs throughout the week. Registration required. Schedule

DC Road Runners is the most important running club in the area. They require membership but anyone can try their Saturday morning long runs.

Marine Corps Marathon. October. The “Marathon of Monuments” is of the more famous marathons in the country. 20,000+ runners annually. Loved in part because it’s flat and takes place entirely in D.C. A 10k takes place simultaneously.

Navy Airforce Half Marathon and Navy 5-miler. September. Popular race along Rock Creek trail and monuments.

Rock and Roll Series. March. DC version of popular series. Marathon, Half, & 5k. Course goes up into Maryland.

Cherry Blossom Festival 10-miler. First Sunday in April. Very popular, occurs during height of Cherry Blossoms. Lottery.