Boston’s urban running scene is second to none, but unfortunately, so are its winters. The mornings are freezing, the wind chill is legendary, and the city has been known to get as many as 40 inches of snow in a single week.
When the snows set in, some runners bundle up and head to college campuses, which tend to have quiet—albeit short—plowed roads. Others hit the treadmill while they wait for the plows to reach the Charles River paths. But for those who don’t have access to a treadmill (or just refuse to hammer out long workouts indoors), there’s one option that’s almost always open to winter runners: the Newton Hills carriage road.
Once a path for horse-drawn buggies and now a staple stretch of the Boston Marathon course, the carriage road is the longest reach of consistently plowed road within city limits. On especially snowy days, it’s swamped with runners, lending it an air of giddy camaraderie that’s hard to find outside race days.
Ready to join them? Here’s how.
To reach the start via public transit, take the D (Green Line) to the Woodland stop in Newton (right by the Newton-Wellesley Hospital). Run north up Washington Street for about half a mile. There, hang a right past the Newton Fire Department to gain the carriage road, which runs parallel to Commonwealth Avenue on its north side.
The carriage road winds past the historic Boston College campus and the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, and past quiet neighborhoods and tree-lined walks. There are a few (MBTA trolley) T stops along the way, which make it easy to cut your run to size.
For a 4.6-mile route that stays on the carriage road the whole time, take it east from the start (see Getting There) to the Boston College stop just north of campus.
For a 9.5-miler, keep going to the traditional Boston Marathon finish: Hang a right at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir to Cleveland Circle, then turn left onto Beacon Street. Bear right at Kenmore Square, then take a hard right on Hereford Street to the finish on Boylston. You can then grab the T from Back Bay.
Whether you’re going for the short version or the long version, you’ll have to tackle the Boston Marathon’s famous crux: the aptly named Heartbreak Hill. It packs 100 feet of elevation gain into about a third of a mile, which can do some real emotional damage near the end of a run. Fortunately, the rest of the route covers relatively rolling terrain: only about 290 feet of gain total for the shorter run, and 460 feet of gain for the longer option.
Need to get something warm in your belly before you hop on the T? Hit the Dunkin’ or Crazy Dough’s pizza right by the Boston College stop. Or, if you’re going the full 10-mile distance, grab a bite at Boston Burger Company on Boylston to celebrate your finish.