I've lived in the D.C. area for 15 years now...and sadly, I haven't taken advantage of nearly half of all the amazing things there are to do here. There are so many historical sites, museums, plays, shops, etc. that I've never been to. And, as I discovered today, some amazing trails only 15 minutes from my house....
|Sign for Potomac Heritage trail and other trails..|
A friend of mine recently told me about the Potomac Heritage Trail ("PHT"), which runs from Roosevelt Island and goes 10 miles north along the Potomac River...
|View of Potomac River from PHT...|
I invited a friend along for an inaugural trail run on the PHT on a cold Sunday afternoon. It took about 15 minutes from my house to Roosevelt Island, where the trail head sign (which I've never noticed in all my times to Roosevelt Island) is right by the parking lot. We started out along the trail, going under the bike path bridge and the Key Bridge into Arlington. A little bit of the trail runs alongside Spout Run Parkway, but then soon, you're away from the traffic and alongside the river, with beautiful views of rock walls and waterfalls...
|Normally I'd have to drive out to Shenandoah for views like this...|
|Beautiful little waterfall along the trail...|
It was instant euphoria. In fact, at one point, I actually had to yell out how amazing this was...I was so excited to find this hidden gem so close to my house...It only took me 15 years!!
The trail is a mix of easy portions, more technical areas with some roots and rocks, and then some straight up bouldering which slows you down a bit. But that's the beauty of trail running: It's not really about the speed. In my newby trailrunner view, it's about: (a) getting a change of scenery; (b) having a lower-impact run; (c) enjoying the views; (d) meditating (yes, it's a meditative act because you have to focus so much on every single step lest you want to biff it); and (e) staying vertical!
I'm hooked...I'm in love...
The trail continues up to Potomac Overlook Park, which as it turns out, we'd actually run on a couple of weeks ago when we went to the Overlook Park. But I had no idea that if you cross the rocks in the water, you pick up the PHT and continue north along the river to the Chain Bridge...We decided for today to turn around, which was about 2.8 miles from the starting point....
|Me at the turn-around point for today's run...if we'd gone across the rocks on the right, we could continue north on the PHT...|
The run back was even more spectacular because you eventually get to enjoy gorgeous views of D.C. and the monuments. Now maybe some avid trail folks would find that almost blasphemous - mixing the city with nature. But I think it's pretty amazing that I can be secluded in these beautiful, spiritual woods, and yet see the architecture of our Nation's capital for part of the run.
|View of Key Bridge and Washington Monument from the PHT...|
We finished the run at about 5.8 miles and I felt great. This is one of the beauties of trail running...We went at a nice pace, Goldie Locks style - not too fast, not too slow, but just right - and had the low-impact benefits of the trail mixed with some bouldering/hiking. This was my longest run in quite awhile - 1:10 - and I felt better than I've felt after some of my street runs of less than half the time.
Although I've found a new love and a new place to enjoy, I'm kicking myself a bit for not finding it sooner. I think one of the reasons I've delayed getting into trail running is that it's a bit more effort to drive somewhere to a trail. I'm normally pressed for time and just like to go out my front door and run the neighborhood. But knowing that this is so close has awakened a new curiosity in me....What else is in my backyard that I've been missing out on? I don't know, but I'm going to start finding out....
What's in your backyard that you may be missing out on?
|View heading south down the PHT...|
Yay! So glad you found that trail! I've only run it from Potomac Overlook to Roosevelt Island, in the dead of summer, so it'd be neat to head north one day...
Hey Steph..You should come out w/ us sometime!!
That's awesome!! I am going to take a gander around and see what I'm missing. I rarely attempt trails, not wanting to do them alone, but also because I can't just go out my door and get to one.
Jen we'll have to meet up sometime too for a trail run! There's probably more out your way!
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