Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Scenic Trails Provide Opportunity for Escape

I’ll be the first to admit that running isn’t as fun as it is often claimed to be. Many Lululemon-clad Hoyas would be all too happy to argue that point as they lace up their neon sneakers and set out to beat the sun to the monuments.

The American Fitness Index recently named Washington, D.C., the healthiest city in America, and our campus certainly reflects that. The Running Club boasts a huge membership, HoyaSana has brought a wave of yogis to campus and Yates has a faithful membership that often makes a treadmill a scarce resource.

I, however, need a little extra motivation. An extra hour set aside in the morning and a well-curated Spotify playlist can certainly act as motivators for real exercise, but if running is going to be a part of my life, I have to make an effort to truly enjoy it. That’s why I’ve recently integrated runs with my favorite activity: exploring.

Washington, D.C., hides an extensive system of trails really well. Tucked in amidst the monuments, rows of embassies, and a scattering of college campuses, the Rock Creek and Capital Crescent Trails wind through the city and connect a number of green spaces. These trails follow carefully preserved strips of forest that border the Potomac, jut upward into Maryland and culminate in Rock Creek Park. This giant national park is nearly four times the size of Central Park in New York City and juts far into the city, narrowing until it deposits hikers at the gates of the National Zoo. A visit with Bao Bao, the new panda cub, perfectly wraps up a day of hiking. To be fair, a visit with Bao Bao perfectly wraps up any day.

The trails offer green oases and a complete change of pace from campus life. At this time of year, the trees are covered in a thick layer of vines that obscure the trails and create a completely isolated dense, green world.

As a Californian, I’m unfamiliar with the concept of being swallowed up by a trail. My runs at home wind past lagoons and scrubby brush, but I’ve never had the opportunity to lose myself in a forest that starts right outside my door. The Archibold Parkway, which can be accessed with a trail right outside of the Observatory, does exactly this, providing a beautiful belt of forest that wraps around the beginning of the Rock Creek Trail before extending far into Virginia.

The Rock Creek Trail itself is an easy way to escape campus. For those of you who want a change of pace that entails more nature and less public transportation headaches, I recommend my regular running routine.

First, find a good playlist. Start with some fast songs as you follow the river or take a right and forge inland instead. But after about 15 or 20 minutes, put on a slow song, something that will let you slow down and walk for a little while. Even if you’re more of an endurance runner than I am, you’ll find yourself wanting to lessen your pace because the isolation provides a perfect place to zone-out and think.

As you wind your way into Cathedral Heights, or along the Potomac if you’ve decided to follow the river, take a moment to notice the changing of the leaves. At this time of year, the first sprays of orange and yellow have started to show. This is the best time of year to hike. The dense greenery has just begun to yield to autumn, and the colors will be unbelievable in just a few weeks.

As midterms suck the energy out of you and the semester grinds into full maturity, consider using D.C.’s trails as a much-needed escape. The paths go on for hundreds of miles — literally — so there’s plenty of exploring to do. And you might even get some exercise as you clear your mind. Consider it multitasking in the best possible way.

Erin Hickok is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. District on a Dime appears every other week in the guide.

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