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Boston's Best Scenic Running Paths

Naturally, in marathon town, varied running options abound. While most runners wind the well-worn path by the Esplanade and along the Charles River nailed down, this city boasts even more beautiful options.

Charlestown Navy Yard
Photo Credit:

Charlestown Navy Yard
55 Constitution Rd.
Charlestown, MA 02129
(617) 242-5601

Hours: 24/7
No parking at the yard

Doug Hall, Director of Sales for Boston Harbor Cruises has run 31 Boston Marathons. He's in training for the upcoming marathon, and often on his lunch hour takes what he calls the Navy Yard run. Beginning at the Charlestown Navy Yard, run by the USS Constitution to the Charlestown locks. Cut across the Charles River where it empties into Boston Harbor, and use the locks bridge to run in front of the Boston Garden and behind Massachusetts General Hospital, then over the walking bridge on Storrow Drive and back to the Navy Yard in about 1.5 miles. To make it a 7-mile run, continue west along the Charles River and over the Harvard Bridge, also called the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge, to the Cambridge side of the river toward the Museum of Science. Instead of running past the museum, run straight, going into Charlestown and around the Bunker Hill Monument.

Massachusetts State House
Massachusetts State House in Boston (credit: AP)

Beacon Hill

Instead of turning left onto the Massachusetts Avenue bridge on the Navy Yard run, go left and run down Marlborough Street for an architecturally stunning route. Marlborough Street is lined with beautiful old brick homes, and at Arlington street, which borders the Public Garden, turns left onto Charles Street, another historically enthralling area, where Beacon Hill begins. Turn right onto Mount Vernon Street up one of the steepest hills in Boston. Run behind the state capitol building, then head back to Massachusetts General Hospital and over the Charles River, back to the locks and Charlestown.

Related: A Guide to Enjoying the Charles River

Wompatuck State Park
Photo credit:

Wompatuck State Park
Visitor Center
198 Union St.
Hingham, MA 02043
(781) 749-7160

Hours: 24/7
Parking available at visitor's center

Wompatuck State Park in Hingham boasts single-track trails off-road that are quiet, wooded and filled with wildlife such as turkeys, deer and coyotes. Snag a sip at Mount Blue Springs before bounding away into the wilderness past campers and fishermen enjoying one of the most beautiful parks in the area.

World's End
Martin's Lane
Hingham, MA 02043
(781) 740-6665

Hours: 24/7

Also in Hingham, run paths of World's End, a peninsula with a series of three large drumlins formed by ancient glaciers. Go just after daylight for sparkling, beautiful waterfront striding on the 3-mile loop. The trail is operated by the Trustees of Reservations.

Arnold Arboretum
Photo Credit: Kristen Fenton

Arnold Arboretum
125 Arborway
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 524-1718

Hours: 24/7

Robert Grant, vice president of the L Street Running Club out of South Boston, knows just about every place in the city to run. One of his favorites is a 13-mile run that goes from M Street to Columbia Road in Dorchester uphill from Andrew Square to the Franklin Park Golf Course and the Franklin Park Zoo. From there, runs up "Lilac Hill," which is technically Bussey Hill, in the Boston Arboretum — it's known for the profusion of lilacs at its base, and in May, for the heady scent of the flowers. It is also one of the highest points in the city, so it prepares runners for Heartbreak Hill in the marathon. Follow the road to the exit at Arborway Gate and go left on Arborway to Jamaica Pond to the traffic circle, keeping the pond always on your left. Exit the pond at Perkins Street, cross Perkins and follow Muddy River. Cross over Route 9 (Huntington Avenue) and get on the Emerald Necklace pathway. Cross Brookline Avenue, continue to follow the pathway until you come to Park Drive. Left on Park, left on Mountfort Street, right on Saint Marys Street, cross Commonwealth Avenue, go through the archway to the left of the gorgeous Boston University Chapel, and cross the footbridge back to the Charles River embankment.

Related:  A Guide to the Arnold Arboretum

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