5 of the Best Routes to Run in Boston

Mark Lowenstein
by Mark Lowenstein
Share it:
5 of the Best Routes to Run in Boston

Soon, some 30,000 runners will queue up in Hopkinton to run the 121st Boston Marathon. Tens of thousands more — spouses, partners, parents, children —  will be traveling to Boston and lining the route to support their marathoner, who has trained for months to participate in this special event.

Many of you supporters are also runners and you aren’t in the same taper mode as your marathoner. So, this guide to the best places to run in Boston is for you.  

1. CHARLES RIVER PATHS
Full Guide | Route Map

If you’re staying in downtown, Cambridge or one of the inner suburbs, running along the Charles River paths is the signature Boston run. The best bet is to do a loop, which means running one way on the Boston side, and crossing using one of the bridges to the Cambridge side. Using the Cambridge side for the east-bound direction provides the best skyline views. The signature route is to head west along the Boston side of the path, along the Esplanade, as far as Harvard Square, and then return on the Cambridge side, passing by Harvard, MIT and the Science Museum.

Pro tip: One real treat for visitors is to extend the Charles River run into Charlestown, using the new pedestrian bridge.

2. THE EMERALD NECKLACE
Full Guide | Route Map

This greenway was originally conceived by Frederick Law Olmsted, of Central Park fame, and spans 10 miles from the State House to Franklin Park. Highlights include the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, The Fens, Jamaica Pond, Arnold Arboretum and Franklin Park. For those staying downtown, start from the State House and run through Boston Common, into the Public Garden and along the brownstone-lined Commonwealth Avenue Mall in the Back Bay for a nearly 4-mile loop.

Pro tip: If you’d like to go further, or are starting closer to the location of the Runners Expo, a great loop is to head into The Fens, and then the Riverway Path, as far as Jamaica Pond.

3. THE BOSTON WATERFRONT
Full Guide | Route Map

This is one of the great spots for running in Boston, and it’s not at all part of the marathon route. As a result of the Big Dig, Boston has been reconnected to its waterfront, and an amazing amount of development has opened up. This includes a continually improving Harborwalk, where it’s now possible to run 16 nearly uninterrupted miles along the water from Charlestown to Quincy.

Pro tip: There are two particularly great sections for visitors: From Charlestown to the South Boston waterfront (more accessible); and a spectacular oceanfront run from Castle Island to the JFK Museum in South Boston (a few miles away by car or cab).

4. THE MARATHON ROUTE
Route Map

If you’d like a taste of the marathon route during the weekend, a good option is to run the final 5 miles from Boston College, near the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, to the finish line. It’s mainly downhill. You can take the Green Line (C Line) to Cleveland Circle and start from just west of there.

Pro tip: For an even longer one-way segment, take the D Line to Woodland (the 17-mile mark of the marathon, on Route 30), which will allow you to experience the final 9 miles of the race, including the pleasure and pain of Heartbreak Hill.


READ MORE > THE MAJOR MARATHON CHEAT SHEET


5. THE HISTORY RUN

Boston, of course, is known for its history. You’ve no doubt heard of the Freedom Trail. It’s possible to run the 3-mile route, although you’ll have to mainly stick to sidewalks deal with the crowds. Go early.

Pro tip: A fantastic alternative, if you have the time (and a vehicle), is to drive 20 miles west to run the Battle Road Trail between Lexington and Concord. It’s a gorgeous gravel trail, built by the National Park Service, that runs 5 miles from Lexington to Concord, following Paul Revere’s route. If you drive out to Concord, a great extension is to include Old North Bridge, site of the “Shot heard round the world,” and a lovely path and hill for jogging. It’s a 5-mile loop from Meriam’s Corner (western terminus of the Battle Road Trail) or a nice 3-mile loop from Concord Center.

Find more Boston Running Routes on MapMyRun.


GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN

> Men’s Running Gear
> Men’s Running Shoes
> Women’s Running Gear
> Women’s Running Shoes


About the Author

Mark Lowenstein
Mark Lowenstein

Mark is the chief running officer at Great Runs — the ultimate guide to the best places to go running in the world’s major cities and destinations. For 200+ locations, 1,500 curated routes and fun compilations, see www.greatruns.com and on Twitter at @greatruns.

Related

Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MapMyRun desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest running advice.

Great!

Click the 'Allow' Button Above

Awesome!

You're all set.