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PAVED PATHS & OFF-ROAD TRAILS: THE BEST RUN ROUTES IN BALTIMORE

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ALISON SALLITT

JUN 25, 2019

Hot or cold, rain or shine, the runners in Baltimore don’t stop for anything! You’ll see the city alive with sneaks pounding the pavement whether it’s by the water, around the parks, or through the neighborhoods.

Where should you go to join in? Well, that’s what we’re here for. Check out our list of the best running spots and trails all around the city; you might just gain a new favorite!

Patapsco Valley State Park is home to more trails than you could possible conquer in one day, so plan to make at least a couple trips here for a solid run sesh. If you’re not sure where to start, take on the Avalon Loop Trail. It’s a longer route—prepare for a 20-mile jaunt through the woods—but the waterfall views make the extra mileage worth it. But if a shorter run is what you’re looking for, hit up the Grist Mill Trail: it’s a brisk, 5-mile route through the woods and past ruins.

Lace up and hit the pavement for a 5K just north of downtown at the Lake Montebello Park Trail. Perfect for increasing your speed, this flat, laned loop will be your new favorite training ground. Bring a running bud to line up and test out your times — you’ll shave off some digits for your 5K PR for sure. Looking for more? Add the park’s neighbor Herring Park and you’ve got yourself a 6.4-mile run.

So, you need to build up to that half marathon that’s creeping up on you? BWI Airport Trail is 11 miles of looping, easy-going trail that will get you adding on those miles in no time. Check out planes taking off as you jog through a nice open trail. Sure, it’s slightly out of the way, but worth the drive to stretch those legs and get prepared for that half.

Training for your next marathon? The ol’ Northern Central Rail Trail (NCR) runs along an abandoned railroad corridor from just north of Baltimore in Cockeysville; it winds 20 miles up all the way to York, PA. And no, "abandoned railroad corridor" is not nearly as spooky as it sounds. There’s plenty of space to run the day away shaded by trees, so pop in those headphones and take off.

Friends in Locust Point (aka land of Under Armour HQ) — have you taken advantage of Fort McHenry run views? This is a national monument, historic shrine, and the very point of your neighborhood is water—water everywhere, with no tourists in sight. Take the three-ish-mile loop starting at Charm City Running Store and explore the grounds of the fort on your run. Fitt Tip: be sure to check hours of operation before you head out.

We know you trail runners out there like a solid view as you trek through rooty twists and turns. Well, get ready to take a journey through Loch Raven Reservoir’s Merryman Trail. An 8.8-mile loop up north near Towson, you’ll test your endurance and get to cruise along the water and in and out of the woods at the same time.

Runners, lace up and follow the red brick road! The Inner Harbor is the go-to sightseeing spot for out-of-towners in Baltimore, but it’s also a perfect early morning 5K to take along the shops and water. This easy-to-follow loop is right in the center of the action of the downtown, so do be sure go during the off-touristy hours. It’s a whole other experience to have the harbor to yourself and fellow runners to stretch your legs.

About 30 minutes from Baltimore in Ellicott City sits Centennial Park, a beautiful 337-acre outdoor oasis with plenty to see and do. But right now, we’re talking about running. So grab your sneakers and hit the 2.5-mile paved loop around the park’s pristine man-made lake. If you’re lucky, you may just spot a turtle sunbathing on a nearby rock as you cruise by.

You probably know Patterson as home of the Volo City social sports leagues. It definitely is, but it’s also a solid place to take a light two-mile run and have a social life at the same time. You’ll cruise through some moderate ups and down around the perimeter of fields full of your neighbors playing boozy flag football or Ultimate Frisbee. And if you’re looking to take an after-work jog with your pup, this is your spot.

Hills on hills are waiting for you at Druid Hill Park’s six-plus-mile trail in North Baltimore. Knock out a killer 10K running past beautiful gardens and shady lawns right near the Baltimore Zoo. Conquer these ups and downs if you’re up for the challenge — can you feel your calves a-burnin’ yet? A running buddy or group runs are recommended here.

Canton’s picturesque waterfront is the run you’ve been looking for. Join runners at any time of day for a lap past the park and around the boathouse (that is, if you don’t stop in your tracks there for brunch). With an easy, flat trail, this jaunt is a refreshing way to stretch your legs without going overboard. Fitt tip: The sunrise and sunsets here are the absolute bomb.

A whopping 10 miles, Jones Falls Trail is a great way to mix up the scenery. It extends through urban areas, parks, natural areas and a few neighborhoods, reaching from the Inner Harbor up to Druid Hill Park. It's a great choice for the long-distance runner who has had one too many treadmills runs lately and needs a refresher.

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