Rock Creek Park is a bit off the beaten track of the running trails surrounding The Mall and the monuments, but it is a hidden gem. On those hot Washington days, Rock Creek park is a wonderful opportunity to run along a shaded pathway and enjoy the lush Washington foliage.
There are myriad options for running in Rock Creek Park. Doug Hay has published an excellent guide. The principal running path is the Rock Creek Trail, which is mostly paved and is about 10 miles in length. The two particularly recommended runs in Rock Creek Park are:
- South Section. ~5 miles. The southern section runs from Pierce Mill (intersection of Tilden and Beach Dr. NW) down to the Memorial Bridge. The paved path winds its way down the park, for the most part sticking pretty close to both the creek and Beach Drive. You’ll run by the National Zoo, the Kennedy Center, and reach the Memorial Bridge. Connect with the Memorial trails and the Mount Vernon trail.
- North Section. ~4.6 miles. This heads up to the Maryland border from Pierce Mill, mainly paralleling Beach Drive. On weekends and holidays, the ~4 mile section of Beach Drive is closed off to cars.
There are many additional options in the park — tons of wooded hiking and trail running options, horse trails, and so on.
Georgetown Connector Trail
One key thing to know about in the Georgetown area is the Georgetown Waterfront Park trail. It is a key connector between the Rock Creek Park and C&O Canal trails to the north and west, and the Mall/Memorial trails.