Exercise in Georgetown

D.C. has been of the healthiest cities in the country, and Georgetown is a great hub for those who want to get some quality exercise.  Although many will buy memberships to Washington Sports Clubs on M Street or Yates Field House on the Georgetown University Campus, if you live in Georgetown you’re going to want to take advantage of all the great outdoor opportunities.

For biking, walking, and running, it’s hard to beat Georgetown’s beautiful tree-lined streets.  But Georgetown has more to offer than just tours past mansions and historic stairs.  Trails and paths are all over the neighborhood.  Here are some of the best options for running, biking and walking.

Reservoir Trails (Running/Walking only): Right where Reservoir Road meets 44th Street, right down the street from the French Embassy, there is a two way trail head.  If you go north, the trails will take you three miles through Glover Park and all the way up to Tenleytown if you stay straight on the trail.  A left about a mile in will take you to Battery-Kemble Park, a few blocks from American University (don’t worry, there are signs).

Part of the Reservoir Trails going south, before they go into the woods.

C&O Canal Towpath and Capital Crescent Trail: (Running/Walking/Biking). If you go south on the trails from Reservoir Road, you have about a mile until you hit Canal Road, where you can make a left and then another quick left to get to a little tunnel that will take you under the C&O Canal and dump you out to its towpath and bike path.  These paths can be extremely crowded on weekends, and for good reason.  They provide gorgeous views of both the Potomac River and the Canal, and can take you different places.  The paved bike path, named the Capital Crescent Trail, going west runs parallel to the towpath for about three miles before gradually inclining and heading north, taking you all the way to Bethesda with only two road crossings.  Take the trail east, and you go past the Georgetown Waterfront and a bike shop/cafe where riders stop to meet up and refuel.  The trail will also take you past the Kennedy Center and all the way to the Lincoln Memorial if you continue west.

A bike uses the tunnel under the C&O Canal to get to the bike path. It’s not nearly as sketchy looking in person. Except at night, then it’s really sketchy looking.

The Towpath gives you limitless, soft, crushed rock to run, walk, or mountain bike on.  It stays flat next to the Canal all the way to Ohio if you take it west, passing Fletcher’s Cove about two miles in where you can stop and boat or fish for awhile.  Take the path east and it will take you to the heart of old Georgetown, running parallel to M Street and even giving you a few restaurant options if you are not too involved in your workout, including one with seating right on the canal.

This bad boy will take you all the way to Ohio. Or a seafood restaurant if you go in the other direction.

Theodore Roosevelt Island (Running/Walking Only):  Right across Key Bridge from Georgetown, going into Virginia, is a little island colloquially referred to as “Rosie.”  A tribute to our most environmentally conscious president, Rosie is a great place to exercise while enjoying the nature of the island.  Only a mile jog from M Street, Rosie provides a mile-and-a-half loop that includes both trails and a boardwalk.  Equipped with water fountains, bathrooms, bird watching spots and wildlife information, it is a great place for a workout or a walking tour.  Also be sure to check out the hidden gem that is the Statue of Theodore Roosevelt, a large fountain and a cast image of the president located at the entrance of the island that is poorly advertised.

Secret Safeway Trails (Running/Walking Only):  Going North on Wisconsin Avenue, after passing the new “Social Safeway” (the Safeway is actually called that), make a right on Whitehaven Street and at the end of the road you will find the Secret Safeway Trails (that phrase has yet to catch on, but it will).  These trails take you through Dumbarton Oaks Park, then if you continue down the hill, onto the Rock Creek Park Trails which will take you miles and miles up through Rock Creek Park if you go left (north) or back down to the Georgetown Waterfront if you go right (south).  These trails are a great hub to get to the rest of the city, and include a bike path that follows the creek and the parkway.

Duke Ellington Track (Running/Walking Only): Located just north of Georgetown University at R and 38th Streets NW is Duke Ellington Track, a four-lane, 320 meter all-weather track.  It is open to the public and has a lot of rules that are largely ignored (dogs are popular but forbidden, even though the water fountains are made for them.  You can also find small children riding bicycles on the surface as their parents walk the track, also a rarely enforced violation).  At five laps to a mile, it gives runners ignorant about the track’s length some false personal records, but is a great surface to run on at any time of the year.

Duke Ellington Track, with Georgetown University Hospital conveniently in the background, just in case.

If you don’t want to run alone, there are group runs available in Georgetown.  The Georgetown Running Company on M Street has group runs from the store at 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and long runs from the store Sundays at 9am.  The store also runs workouts at times to be determined.  The new Nike Store on M Street is also hosting group runs competing with the Running Company’s, starting at 6:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and offering free gear trials to try to boost membership early.  The group encourages those interested to get more information from their Facebook page.

The Georgetown Running Company, where you will find a more established running club, but less Nike stuff to try on.

Jack’s Boathouse: If you don’t feel like running or biking and just want to get out on the water, Jack’s Boathouse can help you out.  Jack’s rents boats to groups or individuals at relatively good prices.  Located under Key Bridge on the Potomac, the friendly staff at Jack’s can help you get out on the river in a canoe, kayak, or paddle board.  You can even cheaply launch your own boat from their dock.  Unfortunately, like much of Georgetown, there is little parking for cars, but there are ample bike racks. Better go in the summer, however, Jack’s closes in October for the winter season and doesn’t open again until the spring.

Besides endurance exercise, outdoor parks in Georgetown can provide places for tennis, basketball, or even swimming.

Volta Park sports basketball and tennis courts, a small baseball diamond, and a pool open to residents of Georgetown as well as students, all located at Volta and 34th Streets NW.  You can also find tennis courts and dog parks at Montrose Park, a little known spot that locals rave about.  Located on R Street and Avon Place, this quiet, pristine park, makes visitors forget they are in a major city.  Some even say it takes them back in time.  The park is filled with little trails and hidden nooks, and is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Also, it’s next to the historic Oak Hill Cemetery where one of Lincoln’s sons was buried (his casket has since been moved), and who doesn’t love graveyards?  Whether you are chasing your dog around or hitting aces, Georgetown’s parks are the places to be.


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