Running Baltimore’s Waterfront Promenade

Outdoors — January 22, 2013 at 5:01 am by

GET THE HELL OUTTA MY WAY! Maybe you find yourself in the mood for a casual jog or perhaps a pulse pounding run.  Maybe you just feel like walking five-wide with your Tuesday Night Wing-Eating and Beer-Swilling Club. Or maybe you want to stand by the water  with your dog, who vacates his bowels every nine seconds at the end of his extremely long and trip-tastic leash, while taking a slow drag on a long cigarette, because you feel the asphalt plant by the Fort McHenry Tunnel doesn’t quite cough out enough CO2 to get you through your afternoon. You can do all of these things on Baltimore’s lovely Waterfront Promenade, a jagged path that stretches from Canton’s Waterfront Park  (allegedly) all the way to Fort McHenry, the fort they named after the beer.

Some say this path is nearly seven miles and that bikes aren’t allowed, but I’ve seen one or two bikes parked around town with your dog’s feces on their tires, so I’m thinking the good ol’ BPD are probably a little too busy consulting for HBO to worry about where you ride your bike. Which of course,  will probably be stolen by the end of this article.  The path is actually a little more like 7.3 miles from the beginning of the bricks in Canton’s Waterfront Park just south of Ellwood Street, to the Fort McHenry gate, if you track it with a GPS app for your cell phone like Map My Run (mapmyrun.com). The security officer who informed me that Fort McHenry was closed  (as it was approaching dusk when I arrived) said that there is another 1.3 miles of running path inside of the fort’s gate. Then he proceeded to tell me how far it was to the McDonald’s on Fort Avenue. I think he was heading there as soon as he could get the last couple of stragglers out of the park.

The Waterfront Promenade is a nice trek along the water, around several wharfs, past some marinas, and through all of Baltimore’s ritzier waterfront community.  The promenade features a brick path, some sections of wooden pier, some necessary cobblestones in Fells Point, a handful of pedestrian bridges, a floating dock in season, and a few noteworthy sections of asphalt and concrete.  It’s here where you’ll begin to question just what the hell I’m talking about when I say waterfront and promenade. The path isn’t quite complete, or at least not in a 100% waterfront sense. That’s ok, we’re going to run on the path anyway, because we’re men. If you have any sense of direction, with a little creativity and maybe a micro amount of trespassing, you’ll be able to fill in the blanks, run a few blocks on the street and still find the water again. If not, follow the bouncing ponytail with the tight buttocks in front of you until you do. Let’s face it, you’d follow her anywhere. Be warned however, not all runners of the farer gender are created equal. Still even so, The Waterfront Promenade is a great place in the city to drink in stunning views of the waterfront and get in some uninterrupted running miles on a fast, mostly flat path where you don’t have to stop and wait at red lights.  Nor do you have to worry about people driving too far past stops signs and killing you, at least most of the way.

Where the promenade starts to fall apart is by the Frederick Douglass – Isaac Myers Maritime Park just west of the parking lot next to the Bond Street Wharf in Fells Point. Here all you have to do is run past the parking lot, follow the boards along the water around the buildings,  and then head north through the park where there will most likely be a large boat of some sort being lifted out of the water getting an overhaul. You’ll happen upon a curved street called Philpot Street. You can go either way on Philpot, it just wraps around the building in front of you and then head north on  Caroline St. Run up Caroline and left on Lancaster St. and bam, more water and more promenade. There are various ways to run through the Inner Harbor area that I’m sure you can figure out, because the tourists can do it, but head towards the Light Street Pavilion and make your way over to the Ritz Carlton Residences by the Rusty Scupper. Once you get to Federal Hill the path comes to a halt in that sort of vacant looking lot area next to Little Havana at the east end of Webster Street. Here you will want to head up Webster Street to Key Highway and go left. When you come to the curve, run behind the 7-Eleven down Key Highway East. You can follow this around to the Under Armor headquarters and make a right across the rail road tracks up Hull Street. Take Hull to Fort Ave. and go left towards Fort McHenry. Seriously why am I still talking. You got this. Run to the Fort, run the path to the end, turn around and run back. Oh thank heaven for the 7-Eleven. Feel free to stop and get a drink and a Clif Bar.

The promenade isn’t too crowded in the cooler months unless you get an unseasonably warm day on the weekend.  If you don’t plan on accidentally running a half-marathon like I did the first time you run this trail, you can always take the water taxi back to where you started. There is a direct flight from the water taxi at Tide Point to the Canton Waterfront. Some other things worth noting about the promenade. The people who live in million dollar condos and town homes are mad that they spent all that money and didn’t get an electric fence or gated community for it. Screw’em. As far as I know, you can run any place along the water that doesn’t have a fence…with a gate…that is closed…and locked. Also young well-to-do mothers from the million dollar home community would rather you fall in the freezing harbor than make any drastic maneuvers to get their double-wide (yeah, who’s classy now) baby strollers out of the way.  Around the harbor, large groups of out of towners are also frequently doing impersonations of your Wing Club (five-wide.) And I know you don’t take your dog running, because you know dogs don’t have sweat glands to release their body heat, and they will drop dead of heat exhaustion long before you get your first cramp.  Nevertheless dogs are out there,  and they are almost all extremely friendly.  But their owners are stupid, have their hounds on very long leashes, and the dogs crap everywhere. One final note. That girl with the tight buttocks and bouncing ponytail you’ve been chasing is way too hot to ever look for your Missed Connection on Craigslist, so either catch up and think of something that isn’t appalling to say, or just give her a nice push into the harbor to cool her off. Make sure there is a dog or a baby around that you can blame it on if she ends up a floater or if someone was looking. Happy running!

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