Stepping Out: The 5 Best Running Trails in Rockville


Photo Credit: Jacob Lund/shutterstock.com

While the treadmills in the 24-hour gym and the in-room fitness zones at the EVEN Hotel Rockville-Washington DC Area can help you rock all sorts of workouts, runners should consider getting outside. The area around the hotel offers plenty of accessible trails for all seasons. Earn your miles on these local paths.

Rock Creek Trail

Rock Creek Trail is a can’t miss experience, both for its quality and its ubiquity. The 14.5-mile Maryland portion extends from north of Rockville to the Washington, D.C. border — and, if you’re game, further into the heart of Rock Creek National Park in the nation’s capital. The paved, well-marked trail roughly follows Rock Creek, gently twisting in the shade beneath abundant oak and hickory trees. Save for a few small rises, it’s a flat, smooth trail, with several water fountains along the way. On weekends, it’s popular with local running groups.

Park at Lake Needwood to access the trail at the north end, or enter at one of the many points in local neighborhoods, including just over two miles away from the hotel at Parklawn Local Park.

Lakeside Trail

Trail runners, get yourself to Lake Bernard Frank for the half-paved, half-natural 3.23 mile Lakeside Trail. From the parking lot off Avery Road, the paved part of the trail descends a short but steep incline, then more gently downhill. About a third of the way through, the trail turns to crushed, packed rocks for a bit, and then continues as single-track dirt. At two points, runners must cross water on rock stepping stones.

Extend your run by connecting to other well-marked, single-track trails on the north side of the lake. The trail gently rises and falls in elevation under a canopy of trees, until the steep incline back to the parking lot.

You can also access Rock Creek Trail from the paved portion of the Lakeside Trail via the connector trail, or vice versa.

Capital Crescent Trail

The Capital Crescent Trail begins a little more than six miles from the Even Hotel in Bethesda. As its name suggests, it curves gently along an abandoned railroad pathway as it makes its way down to Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Total miles: seven. Almost all of them are in the shade.

The quality and accessibility of the trail help make it one of the most popular in the metro area. From downtown Bethesda — there’s ample parking in the lots on Bethesda Ave., and the Bethesda metro stop is only a few blocks from the trailhead — the 10-foot-wide paved trail runs slightly downhill through some of the area’s most beautiful and pricey real estate, and eventually beside the Potomac River. About three miles in, you’ll run through an old train tunnel.

In Georgetown, depending on the season and the growth of the trees, you can sometimes catch a glimpse of the Washington Monument. Water fountains abound, and there’s a restroom at Fletcher’s Boathouse.

Matthew Henson Trail

The 4.5-mile long Matthew Henson Trail combines some of the best aspects of other local trails. It roughly follows water, in this case Turkey Branch Stream. It cuts through a forest, so it’s pretty and shady. It’s mostly flat, but with some curves to keep things from getting monotonous. To all that, it adds 0.6 miles of wooden boardwalk, a change of pace for those who don’t mind added spring in their step. One downside of the trail: It crosses several major intersections. You may have to wait for traffic lights to change.

Park at Parklawn Local Park, where the Matthew Henson Trail meets up with the Rock Creek Trail.

Carl Henn Millennium Trail

Want to fuel your run with some urban energy? The Carl Henn Millennium Trail is for you. The 10.5-mile trail loops much of Rockville, paralleling major thoroughfares on a wide, asphalt path. You’ll be running beside cars, but it’s not a hell-scape of honking Hondas. Large parts of the route cut through greenery, with a grass buffer between the trail and the road. Street crossings are fewer than you’d expect for such a distance; bridges span the two spots where the trail crosses Interstate 270.

Walk, run or drive to the nearest entry to the trail, at Rockville Pike and Wooton Parkway, about two miles northwest of the hotel. For a relatively uninterrupted run, go out and back on Wooton.

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About the Author

Michael Yessis, the co-founder of World Hum, writes about travel, fitness and lifestyle topics.