If the warmer weather and longer days inspire you to give the treadmill a rest and take your run outside, check out these District-area jogging paths first. Not only are they scenic and safe places to stockpile those miles, but they also offer up some fun features for your kid-passengers in tow.
Anacostia River Walk
Type of Path: Shaded, paved, and downright glorious for pushing a stroller. From River Terrace, head south on the path to the Anacostia River Walk. The tree-lined road leads to a bridge that goes over train tracks and takes you to Anacostia Park.
Distance: The river walk is approximately 3 miles, so running the entire length—there and back—is slightly over 6 miles.
Where to Park: Park at River Terrace Recreation Center, which is equipped with restrooms and water fountains.
Kid Stops: River Terrace has a small, nice playground—a great place for tots to play while you stretch after a run.
River Terrace Recreation Center
34th and Dix Sts., NE (Anacostia)
Burke Lake Loop Trail
Type of Path: The trail from the marina to the lake dam is paved, while the rest of the path is covered in fine, crushed gravel that works with jogging strollers.
Distance: The Burke Lake Loop Trail follows the shoreline for 4.7 breezy miles.
Where to Park: Burke Lake Park offers ten parking lots near the entrance. Five bathrooms are also located near the park entrance.
Kid Stops: Check out the playground, carousel ($1.75/kids; free/under 2), and ride-on train ($2.50/kids; free/under 2), located within the park near the entrance. Note: park entrance is free for Fairfax County residents and non-residents on weekdays; on weekends non-residents pay $10/car.
Mt. Vernon Trail
Type of Path: Paved sidewalk, fairly flat with occasional rolling hills, this trail offers spectacular views of the Potomac River and monuments. Bonus: you’ll pass by some awesome points of interest like Theodore Roosevelt Island, Old Town Alexandria, Arlington National Cemetery, and Gravelly Point.
Distance: This 18.5-mile trail is part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. It follows the Potomac’s Virginia shoreline from Theodore Roosevelt Island to Mount Vernon. Carve out a piece of the trail for a run that suits your mileage needs, or if you’re pushing a particularly robust (or sleepy) kid, jog the entire thing.
Where to Park: There is free parking at Theodore Roosevelt Island and Mount Vernon. The Market Square Garage (108 N. Fairfax Street) in Old Town Alexandria is $4 all day on weekends.
Kid Stops: Little ones can watch the planes take off and land near Reagan National Airport, skip rocks along the river, take an ice cream break in Old Town Alexandria, or check out the statue of Theodore Roosevelt on Theodore Roosevelt Island. This run might be just as much fun for kiddo as it is for you.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
George Washington Memorial Pkwy. (Mclean Va)
Old Town Alexandria Parking Garage
108 N. Fairfax St. (Alexandria, Va)
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy (Mt. Vernon, Va)
Type of Path: Paved sidewalks and some gravel paths make up this fairly flat terrain.
Distance: This is a 2.5 mile loop from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial.
Where to Park: Metered street parking (free on Sundays) for those who arrive early (or have extremely good parking karma). Or, hop on the Metro and get off at the Smithsonian stop.
Kid Stops: The grassy lawn inside the jogging path of the National Mall is one big playground: have a picnic, play ball or toss a Frisbee, fly a kite, or simply hang out and enjoy the sights. Also nearby are the whimsical creations at the National Gallery of Art and Hirshorn Museum Sculpture Gardens. Check out the beautiful flowers at the Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. Take a spin on The Carousel for $3.50 a ride. Forgetting how sore you are post-run is a cinch here.
Constitution Ave., NW (National Mall)
Rock Creek Trail-Meadowbrook Park
Type of Path: Paved sidewalks, often shaded, and some running on Beach Drive, which is closed to traffic on weekends. Access the trail by turning onto Beach Drive from East West Highway and following the road to the parking lots.
Distance: Rock Creek Trail extends southward to D.C., passing sites such as The National Zoo and Mount Zion Cemetery and stretching into Georgetown, so it’s possible to make the run 20+ miles. For a shorter run, start at Meadowbrook Park and run along the trail and back, for the mileage you want. (It’s about 6.5 miles from Meadowbrook Park to the National Zoo.)
Where to Park: Lots of parking at Meadowbrook Park.
Kid Stops: Meadowbrook Park, also known as “Candy Cane Park” for its original red-and-white paint, is a great place for kids to play. It’s big, with swings, plenty of room to run, a play structure with climbing and slides for older children, and a small tot lot for littler tykes.
7901 Meadowbrook Ln. (Chevy Chase, Md)
Capital Crescent Trail
Type of Path: Paved trail from Georgetown to Bethesda that becomes a temporary gravel trail from Bethesda to Rosemary Hills in west Silver Spring.
Distance: The trail from Bethesda to Georgetown is approximately 7 miles. For a perfect kid-run, start in downtown Bethesda and run two miles to the playground and back for a nearly 4 mile trek.
Where to Park: Park in a garage in downtown Bethesda (they are free on weekends) and then take the trail towards Georgetown. (Catch the trail across from Barnes & Noble.)
Kid Stops: There’s a shaded playground, complete with slides, swings and trees for climbing, in Bethesda’s Kenwood neighborhood (located just off the trail, between Massachusetts Avenue and Little Falls Parkway, approximately two miles from downtown Bethesda).
Capital Crescent Trail
Bethesda Ave. at Woodmont Ave. (Bethesda, Md)
Where do you go to run or walk with a jogging stroller? Tell us in the comments section below.
Photos courtesy of Roebot via Creative Commons, Chris S. via Yelp, Trail Voice via Creative Commons