Charlottesville, Va., has one of the most vibrant running scenes in the Mid-Atlantic, with a bustling running club and a rotation of popular road races throughout the year. While you could keep yourself entertained with routes within the city limits, exploring the quiet country roads that weave through outlying communities is the real joy for local runners. Dick Woods Road, near Crozet, is a 7-mile crushed gravel road through farm country that’s popular with local race teams and marathoners looking to train.
The beauty of Dick Woods Road is three-fold: There’s little to no traffic, the surface is crushed gravel so it’s easier on your body, and the scenery is outstanding. It’s typically tackled as an out-and-back, so you can pick your mileage, but know that the run begins with a 2-mile, gradual climb through a hardwood forest. The views don’t really pick up until Mile 2.5, when the terrain shifts from forest to sprawling farmland. You’ll run past seemingly endless fence-lined estates with green, rolling pastures that give way to the Blue Ridge Mountains on the horizon. You’ll encounter the occasional intersection, but stay on County Road 637 (Dick Woods Road). Most people turn around at the sign for Pea Ridge Farm, at Mile 5, and treat this run as a 10-mile out-and-back. Make sure you pace yourself; the majority of climbing is right out of the gate near the parking lot as you’re warming up. The scenery will help pull you through the miles and you’ll have an easy downhill back to your car at the end of the run.
How To Get There
Dick Woods Road is about 15 miles west of downtown Charlottesville near the small town of Crozet. You’ll find a gravel parking lot at the intersection of Dick Woods Road and Miller School Road. Check out the Charlottesville Track Club for maps and directions: cvilletrackclub.org
Refresh and Refuel
Downtown Crozet is small, but vibrant, with a number of restaurants and pubs that can help you replenish calories after a long run. Crozet Pizza is an institution, serving hand-tossed treasures since the late ’70s. It has a full menu, but you’re here for the pies. If you like it spicy, order The Hero, which is topped with local Italian sausage and hot peppers.