Best Places to Run Around Harvard

Category Student Voices

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Authored on October 12, 2023

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If you’re new to the Boston area, you might be surprised to see how popular running is over here! 

Especially if you’re from someplace like Texas, where it's not that usual to see hordes of runners every day. But if you’re around Harvard, no matter the weather or time of day, you are guaranteed to see at least one runner along the Charles River. I have recently hopped on the running bandwagon and have been exploring Harvard and Cambridge through new eyes. This blog will be a collection of great running trails around campus, so if you’re ever around, feel free to try one of these! 

River Right, First Bridge 

You can start this run, and any of the runs in this blog, at any point along the Charles River. If you're facing the river on the Harvard side, start running to your right! This run is a ~2-mile loop that crosses Eliot Bridge, down by Mt Auburn Hospital. This run is fun, short, flat, and an awesome one to do at sunset when you can get spectacular views of the Charles. You’ll also be in the company of many other runners, as it is very popular!

Map of 2-mile loop that crosses Eliot Bridge around Charles River

River Right, Second Bridge

Want to go a bit farther? Instead of crossing the river at Eliot Bridge, you should continue underneath the bridge and follow the river (as long as you’re running alongside the river, you’re going the right way). This loop has you cross the Charles at the Arsenal Street Bridge. In total, this loop is around 5 miles. The further you get out from Harvard Square, the fewer people you’ll run into, but you’ll still definitely find some! And you don’t even have to turn at Arsenal Street Bridge if you want—you can keep running all the way to Watertown! 

Map of 5-mile loop that crosses Arsenal Street Bridge Bridge around Charles River

River Left

So instead of going to the right of the river, you will be turning left! This route takes you into downtown Boston and to MIT. Because of that, there are a few more stoplights along the way, so if having mini breaks in your running bothers you, perhaps stay on River Right. To reach MIT from Harvard, it takes about 2 miles. Then, you can cross the “Harvard Bridge” (awkward naming, I agree) on your right into downtown Boston. Or, you can keep going forward and pass MIT to reach the east side of Cambridge, where you can access the CambridgeSide Mall and the Museum of Science! From Harvard to east Cambridge is around 3 miles. 

A collage of two pictures side by side of running paths by the Charles River

Fresh Pond

Aside from the Charles River, there’s another body of water close to Harvard: Fresh Pond. This 155-acre pond has a 2.5-mile flat loop all along the pond with gorgeous views (autumn is truly the best season for New England). To get here from Harvard, you’ll need to run up the entirety of Brattle St (behind Patagonia and Anthropologie in Harvard Square), until you hit Fresh Pond Parkway and then turn right. After five or so minutes, you’ll see Fresh Pond! In total, going from Harvard Square to Fresh Pond and back is about 6-7 miles. 

A collage of three photos of the Fresh Pond reservation and its running trails.

Lastly, know that you never have to run alone! The Harvard community organizes runs via Harvard On The Move and the Harvard College Running Club, two amazing organizations that are inclusive to anyone interested in running, no matter the pace. Until next time!

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