Charles River Esplanade - Road Running

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Take a run along the scenic Charles River, offering views of both Boston and Cambridge. With a variety of distances to choose from, this run can be tailored to all levels of runners.

Written by

Gretchen Stern


17.0 miles

The entire path is 17 miles.

Destination Distance From Downtown

1.0 miles


1 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

0 hours

Varies, depending on how many miles you want to put in!


All Seasons

Though the path remains cleared even in the winter, this route is most enjoyable on a crisp, sunny fall day or a gorgeous spring afternoon.

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Topographical Map

Charles River Esplanade Map



For the quintessential Boston experience, take a run along the Charles River. Though a well-used area that might be crowded at times, the Esplanade Run is worth the trip. Sunlight dances on the water, sailboats dot the landscape, and cool breezes lift off the river to refresh you. Jog (or walk, bike, or rollerblade) over the many bridges and enjoy some fabulous views of Boston and Cambridge. 

What Makes It Great

On a sunny day, you’ll see crew teams whizzing along the water, dogs swimming after tennis balls and frisbees, packs of joggers cruising the path, zippy bikers dodging runners, kids enjoying the playgrounds, and sunbathers lazing on the grass. Along the way you’ll find fountains for grabbing a drink of water, weeping willows and other lush trees for snagging a break in the shade, and countless Bostonians and tourists doing the same. Boston is an active city, and the Esplanade Run is a prime way to enjoy the true Boston running experience.

The path in its entirety is 17 miles, but with many bridges that loop back across the river, you’ll find a variety of options for the length of your run. The footbridge at the end of Charles Street – about a half-mile walk from the Boston Common - is a great place to begin your journey. This route will take you over Storrow Drive and down to the paved path. From here, you can head south past the Hatch Shell – where the Boston Pops perform on July 4 - and parallel Storrow Drive until you cross either the BU Bridge or the Harvard Bridge to duck over to the Cambridge side of the river. Or you can head north on the path, enjoy views of Boston, and cross the river by the Museum of Science. Whatever your path, you’ll find plenty of great views and even better people watching.

Who is Going to Love It

This run offers something for everyone. With multiple bridges spanning the river, runners can tailor the length of their workout. The path is mostly flat and family friendly for those who have kids in tow. Staying to the right, moving out of bikers’ way, and avoiding the path when there is a show at the Hatch Shell can go a long way towards making this a stress-free experience. On a gorgeous spring day or a crisp fall afternoon, this run is a gem.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

There is no parking available on Storrow Drive. Find a parking garage nearby or stake out a spot in Beacon Hill (make sure it’s not resident only parking) or by the Boston Common. Better yet, avoid city parking altogether and take the T (the MBTA Red Line) to the Charles/MGH stop.

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Charles River

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