So a question popped up on Twitter recently – could anyone recommend a few good, safe runs in Manchester, NH – 3-6 miles, hills okay. Having spent the last seven years running endless miles around my adopted home city, I’ve got favorites at all distances, and a true booster’s spirit for mill city running.
So here are a just a couple of options.
(I run a lot at night, but some of these might not be totally, 100%, in keeping with your request for safe after dark, depending on your tolerance level for safe. In the morning, daylight these should be totally great. My wife runs them and concurs, see her notes below.)
1. Fisher Cats Stadium to bike path, over pedestrian bridge to the West Side.
If you are new to the city, this is a great one. If you are staying downtown, let’s make the Radisson at Elm and Granite Streets the reference point. (Across from the Verizon Wireless Arena) Run down Granite Street and take a left on South Commercial, which will bring you to the Fisher Cats baseball stadium. Behind this runs a paved recreation path along the Merrimack.
Run the path for a quarter mile and hook a left up a steep curvy paved path, which will bring you past a bronze statue of a bull and onto a wooden footbridge over the Merrimack. Here you’ll get beautiful views of the river and the Millyard to your north. Across the bridge you can keep running on the paved path, crossing one busy road, and then on along the Piscatquog River. The path ends on on Electric Street on the West Side.
At this point you will have run about 2.5 miles. You can either turn around and run back, getting in a nice, pretty flat 5 miles, or keep going.
2. Run one extended with West Side and Millyard Additions.
From that point you can turn right and run up Bremer Street – which will definitely put your hill running skills to work. (This is not the most immediate, steepest right, which is a path, it’s the next right, a sidewalk along a quiet street.)
Run up Bremer Street and down the other side. Take a right on Coolidge Avenue and then instead of following Coolidge down the hill, continue straight on Notre Dame.
You’ll know you’re on the right path because you can follow the steeple of Ste. Marie Parish – a basilica style French Canadian Catholic Church that dominates the West Side skyline. You’ll run right past (peek inside for a look at a really beautiful interior, including a spectacular altar and stained glass windows).
From here, take a left on Putnam Street, just past Catholic Medical Center, fly down the steep hill there, and hang another left to follow McGregor Street past the front of the Medical Center and toward Bridge Street. Take a right onto Bridge Street and cross the Merrimack again, getting another awesome view of the Millyard.
Take a right onto Elm Street. But don’t call yourself done. Hang a right on Spring Street and dive down into the heart of the Millyard. Take a left on Commercial Street and find yourself amid the Amoskeag mills that were the largest textile manufacturers in the world in the 19th century. Run Commercial all the way back to Granite Street, turn left and run back up the hill you started on, and back to the Radisson on Elm.
Six miles even.
There are so many more, let me know if you’d like different ideas.
PS – My wife notes that any time you are on the recreation paths, you may encounter a “shady” character. or two, but usually they’re just loitering. (or maybe smoking pot under one of the bridges.) She’s never had a problem and runs these all the time, as do I (I run them day and often at night) and if you go in the morning, daylight, there will be plenty of other men and women, families, kids, dog walkers, etc. at the same time.
My wife also notes that running on Elm Street early on a Sunday morning is a real pleasure, iconic main street, and you get it all to yourself. And she really likes running in the stately North End. Just head north on Elm Street.
Here’s the map, below – enjoy!