Sitting on an 800-acre plot of land along the Virginia side of the Potomac River, Algonkian Park offers scenic views and miles of trails for runners to enjoy. The park is located in Sterling, Va., less than 30 miles west of Washington, D.C. There's a golf course and a water park on the grounds, plus more than three miles of natural surface trails.
Parts of the trails have water views, while others feel more remote and wooded. They all, however, make for a pleasant run.
What Makes It Great
The trails are mostly flat as they run along the golf course on the park's property, and then skirt along Sugarland Run, a stream that meanders through both Fairfax and Loudoun Counties before emptying into the Potomac in Algonkian Park. Runners won't have much to worry about in terms of loose rocks and exposed roots, although it's always a good idea to keep an eye out for them and prevent yourself from going head over heels.
The trails at Algonkian Park run outside of the park's borders through Lowes Island, a community to the east, continue through Seneca Park, and, further down the Potomac, into Great Falls Park. So if you're looking to get in a long run on this peaceful trail network, start at Algonkin Park and work you way east — Great Falls is eight miles away.
Several races use the trails within Algonkin Park as well.
Equestrian riders are drawn to the park for its views, remote feel, and proximity to the many horse farms in Northern Virginia. For this reason, the trails are in good shape. After all, what better way to blaze a clear, debris-free path than with an animal that weighs several hundred pounds?
One word of caution: Some parts of the trails heading toward Great Falls pass through private property, so be sure to stay on the trails whenever possible.
Who is Going to Love It
Runners of all skill levels, from 5Kers all the way up to ultramarathoners. Newer runners will appreciate the small circle of trails located within the park, which includes a half mile route from the parking lot down to the Potomac.
Longer-distance runners can either do a few loops through the park, or they can continue on the Potomac Heritage Trail and run east toward Great Falls.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Take the Capital Beltway (Rt. 495) to exit 47, and drive west on Rt. 7. After 11 miles, jump on the Cascades Parkway north. The park entrance is three miles from there.
There is lots of parking available at the park. Running on the trails is free, although there is a fee for many of the other activities there.