Saturday 12 February 2011

Washington DC, Georgetown Running Route

Click here for route map
Length: 9.1 km (5.7 miles), terrain contains one hill

Washington Running Routes:
National Mall and monuments  
Tidal Basin
For more running routes, see the Route List.

This Washington DC running route will zig-zag through Washington's oldest neighborhood, Georgetown. The hillside area is full of historic homes and a waterfront along the Potomac River and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The neighborhood sits on a bluff overlooking the Potomac. It's home to Georgetown University, the alma mater of John Kennedy and Bill Clinton, so the neighborhood is full of students, professors and wealthy Washingtonians.

We'll start in central Washington, in one of the most interesting parks, Lafayette Square, touching the north side of the White House. The square is also bordered by the US Chamber of Commerce to the north, and beautiful old row-houses along the other sides. Surprisingly, you can approach the White House and look in at the fence.
White House, seen from Lafayette Square
Leave the square towards the west, running past Blair House, the residence of official visitors to the White House.
Lafayette Square row houses
Run along Pennsylvania Avenue, which heads diagonally to the right, heading north-west. Pennsylvania is one of the main streets in downtown Washington, but not particularly scenic. You will go past Washington Circle, then in just a few blocks, you'll cross the bridge over Rocky Creek.

NOTE: If you turn right at Rocky Creek, you can follow the parkway on a footpath through parkland for kilometers. It was too dark for me to try it, though, during winter evenings.

Just past the bridge, Pennsylvania ends by running into M Street. Georgetown begins right here. M Street is the main shopping street, full of restaurants and expensive shops.
Houses on P Street
We'll begin the zig-zagging along the historic streets here. Turn right at the first side-street, 29th Street. It goes uphill for the first block. The houses are an interesting mix of styles and materials, and it is one of the nicest American neighborhoods, in my humble opinion. Keep going until P Street, then turn left to run to the next cross-street, 30th Street, then turn left to zag back towards M Street.

When you come to M Street, keep going straight down towards the river. After a block, you will come to the old C&O Canal, with its wooden boat locks. Turn right to run along the canal tow-path, past more historic houses.
Along the C&O Canal
Run along the canal until Wisconsin Avenue, where you turn left and run downhill all the way to the river. Wisconsin is Georgetown's other main shopping street, and the Blues Alley club is located right behind you, the venue where the legendary Eva Cassidy often performed.

NOTE: Hear her haunting version of Fields of Gold live at Blues Alley here, if you don't already know it.
Canal-side houses
There is a riverfront park at the end of Wisconsin, where you turn right and run along the Potomac. You can see the Alexandria, Virginia downtown skyscrapers across the river. You are heading straight towards the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which dominates the view.

Just a block before the bridge, the park ends, and you need to turn inland. Cross under the overhead expressway and head straight uphill by going up the stairs. They will lead you to a pedestrian bridge over the canal.

Keep running north on 34th Street, crossing M Street and continuing uphill until you come to O Street, where you turn left and head towards Georgetown University. In three blocks you will come to the main campus gate, after passing a lot of historic wooden houses.

Georgetown University is America's oldest Catholic university. There are some gothic buildings around the main square in front of you. Run straight towards the main building ahead, with the huge tower, then circle clockwise around the square, to your right.

At the north end of the square, exit the campus at a smaller gate, and run eastwards along P Street. When you come to Wisconsin Avenue, you will need to first turn right, then left at the first opportunity, on O Street, and keep running eastwards.
O Street homes
Continue running east on O Street through the historic neighborhood until you come to 28th Street, where you turn right and run downhill back to M Street. At M, take Pennsylvania Avenue all the way back to Lafayette Square again.

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