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The Best Hills to Run in Washington

Local experts share their top picks for hill training in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

The hill on 13th Street, Northwest, provides a challenge as well as great views of downtown Washington. Photography by Flickr user Mr T in DC.

The relationship between runners and hills is a fickle one—we hate them mid-workout, but man, do we love what they do for our end game. To boost that incline-stepping spirit, we asked four local running experts for their go-to hill routes around Washington. Check out their recommendations below, which range from short, steep slopes to long and rolling jogs.


13th Street, Northwest

Enjoy a sweeping skyline view at the top of this hill in Columbia Heights—the steepest of the bunch with a staggering 11.4-percent average grade.

Valley Trail in Rock Creek Park

Doug Hay, an avid trail runner and the creator of the Rock Creek Runner blog, suggests this section of trail for a beastly yet fun workout.

Cecil Place, Northwest

Running coach Mike Hamberger runs his clients up hills all around the District, including this one on the Georgetown waterfront.

Capitol Hill

Multiple DC running gurus suggested both sides of the original Hill for a good workout. Though similar, the Independence Avenue side trumps Constitution Avenue in terms of grade and elevation gained.


Beech Drive Trail in Rock Creek Park

Another favorite of Hay, this section of trail ends at the Rock Creek Park horse center.

Stoneybrook Drive in Chevy Chase

Certified running coaches Julie Sapper and Lisa Reichmann of Run Farther & Faster recommend the Mormon Temple hill for a “steep and brutal” climb.

Azalea Road, Northeast

The National Arboretum provides a scenic background for this half-mile favorite of the EZ8 running program’s¬†Kathleen Pugh.


Leland Street in Bethesda

Sapper and Reichmann take runners on this route of rolling hills in Bethesda to stimulate the Boston Marathon’s infamous Heartbreak Hill.

Military Road in Arlington

Two consecutive, nearly half-mile hills test the body and mind on this stretch of road in Arlington.

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