The "Best Places to Run" series kicks off with none other than my home base of Providence, Rhode Island. Providence is home to Olympians Molly Huddle, Kim Smith, and Ro McGettigan, the 2013 NCAA XC National Champions Providence College, and countless other fast runners. Whether you're visiting PVD for work or pleasure, be sure to check out our city's history, fine dining, and of course these runs!
Blackstone Boulevard is a common destination for runners, located on the East Side of Providence. The Boulevard is divided by a center median running and walking path; made of soft crushed granite, it is easy on the legs and a great place to run when you want to be on soft surface. On either side of the wide Boulevard, large bike lanes ensure a safe buffer from car traffic.
The soft surface path begins at Lippett Park, close to the Providence/Pawtucket border, and runs to the end of Blackstone Boulevard, where the street becomes Butler Avenue. An out-and-back loop on the Boulevard will yield you ~3.2 miles.
Although the soft surface path is short, you can easily add on miles by running the nearby East Side streets (you can admire the big historic homes) or by running a loop around Blackstone Park and along the Seekonk River.
In the winter, the Boulevard is a safe bet for being plowed of snow; the median will be covered (grab your snowshoes!) but from January to March, I frequented the cleared bike lanes for an open stretch of road.
If you’re visiting Providence for business, you’re likely staying downtown. Lucky for you, our city is small, you can easily escape the downtown hustle + bustle and get in a solid run starting from downtown. If you're short on time, check out these quick lunchtime loops that my friend and fellow runner Kate Huot has put together.
Head out from downtown along the Providence River, following the route of the Downtown CVS 5k (which also serves as the course for the USA 5k Road Championships), heading south along Memorial Drive toward the Jewelry District. Pass Brown University’s Medical School and catch glimpses of Providence’s startup neighborhood before crossing the river at the Point Street Bridge. From the other side of the river, you can loop around India Point Park along the waterfront before heading back along the East side of the Providence River. Look to your right for views of Brown's campus and historic Benefit Street (and get in some hill work if you want to add on); otherwise, continue back along the river for ~3.5 miles total.
From India Point Park, you can get in a longer run and connect to the East Bay Bike Path for more miles - I promise, it will be worth your while! The East Bay Bike Path is now easily accessible to Providence residents with the opening of the Linear Park and pedestrian/bike lanes on the Washington Bridge. Access the bridge via a switchback bike path located next to the Wyndham Garden Hotel, cross the river, and take 1st Street southeast to connect to the bike path. The path parallels Veterans Memorial Parkway in East Providence and offers you stunning views of Providence Harbor and the river.
The path is relatively flat, i.e. great for tempos or other workouts. The trail is over 14 miles and goes all the way to Bristol, RI - so if you're training for a marathon, you can get in many miles here (I sure did when training for my first 26.2!). Another added bonus - great sunset views! The sky here is always gorgeous, making it all the easier to get through a tough mile.
Hope to see you out on my favorite Providence trails! Got a place you want to see featured next on "Best Places to Run" ? Drop me a line in the comments and your destination might be next!