Traveling the trails of Washington D.C.’s Theodore Roosevelt Island

Here’s a view of a trail on Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington, D.C. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I took a half-day of work Monday to go to Peter Sagal’s book tour in Washington, D.C. (more on this in a later post). I wanted to avoid traffic and get there with time to spare. And, since I was making a two-plus hour drive each way, I figured I would get a run in as well.

Here I am with a statue of my birthday twin, President Theodore Roosevelt.

While working on a story for RunWashington, a source I interviewed said she and her mom ran at Theodore Roosevelt Island (read the story here). I hadn’t heard of this island, and I thought it sounded like a cool place to run.

My GPS brought me right to the island, which is part of the National Park Service. The parking lot is off George Washington Memorial Parkway in Arlington, Virginia. There were plenty of parking spots, and it was easy for me to park when I got there around 4:30 p.m. or so. Also accessible from the parking lot is the Mount Vernon Trail, which I will have to check out sometime.

Theodore Roosevelt Island is in the Potomac River. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Once I parked, I crossed a footbridge to go onto the island, which is part of Washington, D.C. There was a map at the entrance, and I decided to see the monument first. It was really nice, with a statue of Roosevelt; panels for Nature, Manhood, Youth and State; and fountains.

Here’s another view from the island. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I took a selfie with the Roosevelt statue — we share the same birthday — and headed onto one of the trails. There’s a trail that goes basically around the perimeter of the island, as well as some other ones. The perimeter trail was about a mile and a half (as it says here), so it wouldn’t be difficult to run all the trails without having to be out there for a super long run.

Here’s the boardwalk section on one of the Theodore Roosevelt Island trails.

On my four-mile run, I ran most of the trails, but there were some parts I missed. The trails were also not really marked with signs or mile markers that I could see, so I also ended up on a single-track trail that was very muddy.

It was definitely worn down as a trail — I wouldn’t have just run into the woods randomly if there were no path — but after looking at the park’s website and the Leave No Trace policy, I would advise that anyone reading this that goes for a visit stay on the wider, less-technical trails. One of the trails had a long stretch of boardwalk, which I liked.

There is also a bathroom on the island. The park website says it closes for the winter season, but it was still open on Monday.

The Washington Monument can be seen toward the left of this photo. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Theodore Roosevelt Island is open 6 a.m.-10 p.m., according to the website. A trail map can be found here. There is no admission fee.

I found it interesting how parts of the island would be so woodsy that someone could almost forget they were in a huge city — but then there were views of skyscrapers at times. I was even able to see the Washington Monument. I also saw a deer on the trail.

Look closely to see a deer on the trail in this photo. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Have you run here? If you have been to Washington, D.C., what’s your favorite place to run in the area? 

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