East Potomac Park is not necessarily a route, or a trail, in itself. However, given that it is located at the intersection of so many of Washington, DC’s popular running trails, it affords runners a variety of training options. Jutting southeast of the Jefferson Memorial, East Potomac Park is a pancake flat peninsula that represents the southernmost reaches of Southwest DC. Ohio Drive runs continuously around the park, making for a wide, well-maintained circuit loop that clocks in at around five miles. (Buckeye Drive SW cuts across the peninsula at its widest point just east of the 395 overpass, allowing runners a slightly shorter loop and a smooth connection to longer routes that run north and south through this part of the city.)
Given the large width of Ohio Drive and its flat profile, East Potomac Park is an excellent location for tempo runs and interval training of all kinds. Since East Potomac Park is accessible from many local running trails, it easily allows runners to bookend their workouts with warm-up and cool-down jogs. Please note that Ohio Drive is shared by pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, so runners should exercise good caution when making use of the road (there are not any sidewalks lining Ohio Drive, and the concrete pathway that borders the peninsula frequently floods and is in bad repair). Wear reflective gear, and remain close to the shoulder of the road.
Access and Extension Points
East Potomac Park is in close proximity to the National Mall, so runners who are cutting across the city can easily make their way to the southeast via the various sidewalks and roadways that extend from the Mall. However, the most seamless points of connection to East Potomac Park are from the southern end of the Rock Creek Trail (as it runs under the 14th Street Bridge), the western tip of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (as it passes beneath 395 by the Maine Avenue Fish Market), or from the Mount Vernon Trail (if runners head north across the 14th Street Bridge). There is also parking available throughout the park.
If runners are considering using East Potomac Park as a means to extend a long run, please note that public water fountains are subject to seasonal closings. Likewise, the restroom facilities are intermittently closed for maintenance. The park is technically open 24 hours for foot traffic, but Ohio Drive is often secured by traffic gates after sundown. Also, the lighting in the park itself is not always consistent, and there is frequently wildlife on the roadway in the early morning or late night hours. Run cautiously and with care.