Dear PoPville – Local Tracks Open to Public?

Sign at Roosevelt High School in Petworth

“Dear PoPville,

Are there any outdoor tracks that are open to the public in DC? I’ve seen a post from a couple of years ago about Cardozo High School, but am wondering about other tracks as well.”

From the sign above it looks like most public high schools have early morning and afternoon hours open to the public. In 2010 the Examiner put out a pretty good list too. For those who use tracks around town – where do you go?

29 Comment

  • It’s only two lanes, but then new Turkey Thicket track is nice.

  • I hate to give up my favorite local spot, but McKinley Tech HS in Eckington is amazing.

    • @kbloomingdale: What’s the best point of access in the mornings? I usually get to the track via Harry Thomas park, but they don’t unlock the gates to the park until 8am. Any suggestions? Thanks.

      • I normally go in the evenings, but I typically use the entrance up the stairs from R St NE/Eckington Place NE, or the main entrance from the parking lots of the school.

    • brookland_rez

      Yeah, that’s where I go. It’s always open when I want to use it. And it has nice capitol views. I’ve used the track at Galludet too, they’ve never seemed to mind.

  • binpetworth

    Huh. I would’ve guessed those posted hours were for when school is in session. I’ve often used the Roosevelt track on weekends without any problem (just not when I could tell there was a scheduled event). There are usually a handful of folks on the track at the same time there are community soccer leagues playing on weekend afternoons.

  • I hit the track a lot this winter, and I was disappointed that Roosevelt’s was always blocked off (because it was dark at 5 PM). Cardozo’s seems to be perpetually closed, too – even in warmer weather.

    As such, I was relegated to running on the Banneker track. It’s slightly mis-shapen and only four lanes, but it seems to be 400m, so it gets the job done and is open after dark. I’d much rather be on a standard oval, though.

  • I believe the track at Banneker is open

  • The Banneker Track is not affiliated with a high school so it’s always open and available.

    Though this does have me a little leery of going back:

  • Rant: I play in a soccer league that pays to rent the Cardozo and Mckinley fields some weekdays and weekends. Obviously there is no problem/conflict with individuals or small groups using the tracks to work out. However, a recent infuriating pattern has been PAID crossfits/training groups/classes (I’m talking 20-40 people with a paid instructor) using the tracks. Not only do they make the tracks less accessible for the casual solo runner/small groups, they can be distracting to the games going on (i.e. running on the field, blowing whistles that interfere/confuse game whistles.)
    I know this is a total #FirstWorldProblem rant, and we should be celebrating district residents getting outside and MOVING (thanks FLOTUS), but something just doesnt sit right with me when these for-profit entities, charging their clients presumably a lot of money, are reducing the enjoyment of other non-obtrusive or rent-paying participants.

    On a somewhat related note, my hometown of Santa Monica, CA (though hyper-restrictive and quasi-socialist in its policies) just enacted a law where for-profit personal trainers must go through some sort of paid-permitting to be able to offer classes (yoga, pilates, training) in public parks. Something to ponder.

    • I like that Santa Monica idea!

    • I was part of a marathon training group (about 8 people) that ran at Cardozo and we had a lot of run-ins with soccer players lounging on the track or walking in front of us, so the lack of courtesy goes both ways. They even threatened to call the cops on us arguing that they paid for the exclusive use of the track but DPS couldn’t confirm this for me.

  • Bannecker is open at all hours and is 400m and has good lighting for those who like evenings. My sister runs at Gallaudet sometimes which she says is quite nice. Cardozo and Roosevelt are open when other groups, such as the soccer player above, are using them, but I don’t think that sign in the photo is accurate to what I’ve seen in terms of open hours at Roosevelt. Anyone ever tried to get into Howard? Can you?

  • Who the hell would pay a private trainer to yell at them at a public field/track?? Seems bizarre, obnoxious, & must violate some ordinance. What’s to stop me from opening a for profit daycare on the track? Seems arbitrary to allow trainers but not other businesses. I would go one step further than Santa Monica & just ban personal trainers all together from public land.

  • Coolidge HS in Brightwood/Takoma is open on weekday mornings when I go.

  • Anyone know anything about the Dunbar track? Is it open after the renovations yet?

    • Last I saw it (just a few weeks ago), it was definitely still under construction. Looks like it has a ways to go.

      But, in other news, the Dunbar Pool is excellent for lap swimming!

    • Not quite. It opens the weekend of 8/23 — at 2pm there will be a Dunbar/McKinley (battle of the north capitol corridor). The opening ceremony starts the 21st.

      • I’m sure that the new Dunbar track will be locked up other than for official school use to prevent the numerous homeless people in the neighborhood from taking up residence there. I like the Howard U. track, but its was closed recently as they were re-sodding the football field. Hopefully it will be open again soon.

  • Wilson High School’s track is open to the public. It is short, 342m, but at 6:30pm every Wednesday the DC Tri Club runs a free track workout. They post the workouts to their website. Cardozo High School’s track is open to the public, at least in the evenings, as I have also gone there.

    For the commenter ranting about the use of whistles by people running track workouts, have you ever talked to them about it and said it was distracting for those in the soccer game? I know the leader for the Wilson High track workouts stopped using a whistle a year or two back because the soccer players finally told her it was confusing for them.

    • +1 on Wilson and the DC Tri Club Workouts.

      For other tracks in this area, AU’s track is always open as well as the track just above Reservoir Rd near Georgetown Uni. My personal favorite is AU.

      • I used the track on Reservoir when I trained for Marine Corps in 2011. Access to the bathrooms on the Gtown campus was definitely a plus.

  • The Duke Ellington track at 38th and R is usually almost empty – I used to use it over the summers when I lived in the area. Isn’t there also one by Francis/Stevens?

  • If you work in Arlington, near the Ballston Metro, the Washington-Lee HS track is open to the public before, during, and after the school day. It’s only closed during sports events which require paid entry.

  • Gallaudet Univ. Allows people in neighborhood to use its amenities but you need to register with then (though they are not strict on enforcement. )

  • yes- there is a public track near the Howard campus- no idea what’s it’s real name is- but neat 9th and Euclid. There are public tennis courts and a pool as well. Right next to the McDonald’s

  • I see the public using Banneker track all the time. There is also one at Roosevelt.

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