My favorite running tracks in Princeton

February 21, 2015
Avaneesh Narla

This semester, I have taken to running outside a lot. And I have found that the Princeton area offers many gorgeous paths that both inspire you to run and also pause to let the breathtaking beauty set in. I have selected four of my favorite paths around campus and describe why I return to them time and again.

1. Princeton Battlefield and Institute Woods

When I am looking for a bit of inspiration and a break from Princeton's Collegiate Gothic buildings (yes, I do need breaks from Gothic Castles), I head west. First I pass by the gorgeous Princeton Theological Seminary, and then take a left on Mercer Road. I pass by the house Albert Einstein lived in, hoping to imbibe his genius ahead of my physics problem set, and soon reach the famed Princeton battlefield where George Washington was victorious over the British in a crucial battle in the Revolutionary War. I relish the soft ground and brave the wind until I reach the tall trees behind the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS). I try not to get lost in the dense woods before reaching the IAS, the institute where Einstein and mathematician Kurt Gödel, among many others, conducted researched. By this time I am inspired enough for the final stretch, passing by the Princeton Graduate School and its entryway, before collapsing into my own bed.

2. The Princeton 5K

Numerous 5Ks take place around the calendar year in Princeton, mostly on Saturdays. And almost all take the same path, starting from south campus under Bloomberg Arch (the only arch I know that isn't always occupied by a cappella groups), before passing by Icahn Laboratory, the Peretzman-Scully Building, Streicker Bridge and Frick Laboratory, all swanky glass buildings that offer a contrast to the Collegiate Gothic buildings typical of Princeton's North Campus. I also pass my favorite feline statue pair on campus (there are enough for me to have a favorite), a pair of winged lions lost in the woods behind Frick. After touring Princeton's athletic facilities (including the impressive Powers Stadium), I go back across Streicker Bridge and past the glass south façade of Frist Campus Center, which appears in the opening shot of the television series House M.D. Soon, I enter Gothic territory and take a round around North Campus before sprinting downhill back to South Campus.

3. The Tow Path

Ask anybody at Princeton for a running path, and they will almost definitely mention the tow path along Lake Carnegie. This is probably my favorite path as well, mostly due to the soft earth. But this also means that the path is not safe for running for most of the winter. The tow path is a thin strip running next to the Delaware Raritan Canal, and is flanked by the canal on one side and Lake Carnegie on the other. Trees on the banks of the path create a constant green arch. This is also a great path for biking, though one must be aware of the puddles.

4. Princeton Town

North of the University, the town of Princeton offers a great suburban setting for running. You can see many different types of houses, often with their own little quirks. You also run into institutions such as the Aquinas Institute and several churches. If you run in May close to the time of reunions, you will see class banners hanging on several houses, some adorned with several banners, telling the tale of a thriving Princeton legacy. Try not to get distracted by the eateries though!