Washington & Old Dominion Trail a great place to explore on a run

Here’s the start of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail in the Shirlington neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I attended an out-of-town work meeting on Friday, and when I looked up the location on Google Maps, I saw that it was next to two running trails.

Here I am at the start of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I was in the Shirlington neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, for a quarterly MATPRA — Mid-Atlantic Tourism Public Relations Alliance — meeting. The meeting was at New District Brewing Company, and right nearby was the start of the 45-mile Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park, which I had never run before.


The meeting ended at 2 p.m., so afterward, I changed into my running clothes — shorts and a short-sleeved shirt on this pleasant day — and charged my phone in my car for a little bit so I would have enough battery to listen to podcasts on the new Aftershokz Trekz Air that I’m testing for BibRave (more to come on those headphones later).

Here’s a view of one of the community gardens along the trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I ran to the trailhead and began heading west on the trail. It’s a paved trail with a line down the middle to separate the sides. This was a leisurely run for me; since it was a new-to-me location, I stopped to take photos and wasn’t worried about speed.

Not too far into the trail, I saw a sign for the brewery where I’d just been — the sign also noted there were water, air, bike tools and restrooms there. I thought that was cool that people could learn about what was nearby. I didn’t see other signs like this, but I assume they were likely later in the trail (spoiler alert: I didn’t run the 45 miles out and back).

The trail has mile markers every 1.5 miles. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

The first 1.5 miles of the trail was definitely a city-like environment, with some road crossings. After that, it changed to a more woodsy feel. I noticed community gardens along the trail, which I thought was cool. They didn’t seem to really be in use during this season, but I liked that they were along the trail.

Here’s a view of the trail once I got more into the woodsy area. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

There were bikers and runners on the trail, and I also saw kids that looked like they were walking home from school.

There were lots of places where people could get onto the trail, and among the things I noticed were an area off the trail where kids could ride bikes and playgrounds. There were also bathrooms along the trail — one of which I stopped at near my turnaround point.

I didn’t have a set distance in mind, but I had the time to run during the day, I felt good and the weather was nice, so I decided on seven miles, ending my run back at the brewery. Because of the way I’d calculated, I ended up with 7.25 miles.

There are creeks along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

While there, I was planning to sit by myself, but was invited to sit with a couple other people — who turned out to also be runners! We ended up playing a board game together while there.

I took a selfie with this marker along the trail, which was near a railroad car. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Want to learn more? Here are links to the Nova Parks website, with a trail map, and Friends of the W&OD Trail websites.

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12 thoughts on “Washington & Old Dominion Trail a great place to explore on a run

  1. Yep, that’s a great trail. The section you ran on with the playground is one of the nicest for a while but the whole trail is great. I’ve only gone to the end on my bike. 🙂

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  2. I went to DC with my husband a few years ago and saw that trail (I didn’t do any running in DC, but we walked a ton). Looks like a great place to run and I’m so jealous of cities that have trails like this. I think there are even some race on this one.

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  3. Hi Vanessa,
    I own the brewery you stopped at! It’s a great little community around here and we were happy to see you stop in. If you enjoyed the beer we always appreciate a good rating from out of town folks on FB and Yelp. Look forward to seeing you next time!

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