Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Potomac Heritage Trail - C&O Towpath Loop - Washington, D.C.

Time: 1:43
Distance: 11.11 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Warm and Sunny

Another trip to Washington, D.C., another sea level run. 

Ran from hotel in the Rosslyn 'hood of Arlington down to a section of the Potomac Heritage Trail, a 830-mile collection of trails that start at the mouth of the Potomac at the Chesapeake Bay and run all the way to the Ohio River Basin.  The section I ran is all singletrack and starts at Theodore Roosevelt Island and snakes through the rocky beginning of the Potomac Gorge, ending 4.1 miles later at Chain Bridge.

The trail is all tree-shaded and loaded with roots and rocks. A couple of creeks (or "runs" as they are called in Virginia) spill over the rocky bluffs into the gorge just above the trail making for really cool waterfalls. There are two trails that head up into the adjacent neighborhoods on the palisades above. I followed one, Donaldson Run, up to the Potomac Overlook Regional Park. After a bit of exploring in the park and refilling my water bottle, I returned to the river-side trail and continued on to Chain Bridge.

I took Chain Bridge over the river and dropped down to the C&O Canal towpath, which runs 184.5 miles from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. A good portion of the JFK50 is on the upper reaches of the towpath. Once on the towpath, I upped the pace for the 3.25 miles from Chain Bridge to Key Bridge, which connects Rosslyn with Georgetown in D.C., averaging around 6:20. 

Finished the run up with a jog across Key Bridge and a quick and short loop around Rosslyn to hit the 11-mile mark.

Very nice run, with a solid tempo finish. Humidity wasn't too bad, but still was dripping pretty much the whole time.  About 80 percent of the run was on dirt or crushed gravel (on the towpath). Not a bad ratio considering I'm in the middle of one of the country's largest metro areas.

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