DC runner's guide: Best routes, views & more

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The weather keeps toying with us, but you've probably already heard the inevitable "JOGGER ON YOUR LEFT" that comes with spring.

In D.C., you can't escape the joggers, runners, cross-trainers, or whatever-ers once the warm weather hits. Here are 10 reasons our nation's capital also seems to be the jogging capital of the world.

#10: Stairs If you're looking to amp up your run, D.C. is the place to do it. You can find great spots for running stairs behind the Lincoln Memorial (next to the Arlington Memorial Bridge), at Meridian Hill Park, and at most monuments and Metro stations. There's also the famous "Exorcist Steps" in Georgetown, where they filmed the creepy stairs scene featured in The Exorcist.

#9: Hilly Routes If you live in the Tenleytown/Cleveland Park area, you'd better get used to hills. You have start or end your run with them. And if you add hills into your route on purpose (why?!), look for them at the National Zoo, on Massachusetts Avenue (between Dupont and Wisconsin Ave NW), Porter Street NW, and any of the side streets that connect Connecticut Ave NW to Wisconsin Ave NW.

#8: Flat Routes Sane people can pick a route with limited or no hills. Try the Georgetown Tow Path, or any routes that include downtown or the National Mall.

#7: Running Groups and Tours Tourists can see the city during a guided 5K or 10K run with City Running Tours. You get your own guide, water, and goody bag. If you're new to D.C. -- or just want to try something new -- consider joining a running group like DC Capital Striders or Washington Running Club. It's a great way to meet people and get to know the city's layout, which you'll find makes no sense at all.

#6: Capital Crescent Trail This 11-mile trail spans from Silver Spring to Georgetown, and it's usually less crowded than the paved trails in Rock Creek Park. It gives you a taste of different areas in D.C., from downtown Bethesda to the scenic Potomac River. It also connects to the C&O Canal Trail, which stretches 185 miles all the way to Cumberland, Md.

#5: Rock Creek Park It's strange to jog away from busy D.C. streets and and find yourself completely surrounded by woods in five minutes. But that's the charm and convenience of Rock Creek Park, which covers nearly 1,800 acres along the Rock Creek Valley. If you want a paved running trail, try the section that starts at Tilden Drive NW. It curves around the National Zoo, picks up the trail entrance at Calvert Street NW, and goes all the way to the National Mall. Beach Drive is also a prime spot on weekends, when it's closed to cars. For the more adventurous, rockier trails can be found throughout the park.

#4: Georgetown Waterfront Park The best thing about Georgetown Waterfront Park is that it connects Capital Crescent Trail to the Rock Creek Park trail. That means you can avoid all D.C. traffic and stoplights, even if you're planning a super long route. The park also provides an open view of the water, where you'll often see crew teams practicing.

#3: MonumentsThe monuments at the National Mall are spaced out enough that you can take a self-led tour and get in a good workout. A rectangular loop between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol comes out to about 4.5 miles. Tack on another .5 by including the Jefferson Memorial, or add as much mileage as you want by running the trails and streets in between the monuments.

#2: Views See a wide shot of D.C. by running through spots with great views of the city. The view from the Arlington Memorial Bridge lets you see the National Cathedral and Georgetown. A lesser-known view can be found at the intersection of Clifton Street NW and 13th Street NW, where you can see the Washington Memorial and the Capitol.

#1: Everything worth seeing Practically every popular site in D.C. is accessible by running trail or bike path, from the Arlington National Cemetery to the National Zoo. Even the sidewalks that pass the embassies are wide and runner-friendly. Plan out a route and avoid traffic and metro fares by getting to the sites via your running shoes!


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