fitness

The 6 best running spots in our nation's capital.

Image: Canberra is particularly lovely in autumn (via iStock).

Canberra is full of people hoping to run for office one day, but that’s not the only type of running taking place in our fine capital city.

With its mainly flat terrain and expanses of bushland, framed by a few notable mountains, Canberra has a running spot for every athletic ability. Want a steady, flat run? Jog around Lake Burley Griffin. Looking for a challenge? Time to tackle Mount Ainslie or Black Mountain.

RELATED: The 6 best places to run in Sydney.

Either way, there’s a very good chance you’ll bump into one of our Federal pollies (or maybe a kangaroo) so keep your eyes peeled. Here are the six best runs in our nation’s capital — if we’ve missed your favourites, let us know in the comments section.

1. Lake Burley Griffin

Image: Wikimedia Commons

This is a classic Canberra run. Depending on how you tackle this scenic, flat route, you might encounter bushland and wetlands, or you'll get a good look the National Gallery, National Library and High Court. Plus, of course, there's those lovely lake views — they're especially Instagram-worthy at sunset and sunrise (if you can bear the chill).

Distance: The most popular route is Commonwealth Bridge to King's Ave Bridge, which is 5km.

Post-run coffee: 38 Espresso, or Local Press on the Kingston foreshore.

RELATED: The 6 best Brisbane runs for all fitness levels.

2. Cooleman Ridge

Image via visitcanberra.com.au
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Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve backs on to the suburbs Chapman and Fisher (map here), and offers runs of varying lengths along the lower slopes of Mount Arawong. There's plenty of flora and fauna along the way — including long-necked tortoises if you're lucky — to distract you from the burn in your calves.

Distance: As long as 10km if you're up for it.

Post-run coffee: Chapman Cafe in nearby Chapman. (Post continues after gallery.)

3. Red Hill

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Red Hill, part of the Canberra Nature Park, is another great spot for a cross-country woodland run. With wide dirt trails, it can be quite hilly in parts, so suited to runners who want a bit of work.

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Distance: 8km.

Post-run coffee: Doublé Shot in Deakin or Ona in Manuka.

RELATED: The 6 best places to go running in Melbourne.

4. National Arboretum

Image via Wikimedia Commons

There are a few trails you can run at the National Arboretum, at the western end of Lake Burley Griffin, with more under development. However, the lookout at Dairy Farmers Hill offers a glorious 360 degree view of Canberra and surrounds, so if you make that your destination you'll be rewarded rather handsomely.

Distance: 6km.

Post-run coffee: Sprout Cafe.

RELATED: The 6 best places to go running in Hobart.

5. Mt Ainslie

The view from the top. Image via Madeleine Deaton/Flickr
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There's a reason Mt Ainslie is one of Canberra's favourite running trails. Some opt to jog around the base, while others take the various trails to the summit to be rewarded with gorgeous views. Obviously the more direct trails to the top are harder — because they're almost vertical to the mountain face — so if you're not quite up to that take the zig-zagging path instead, and prepare for a steep run with lots of stairs.

Related: "I made my husband a vagina painting and ended up in hospital."

Distance: 9km around the base; the run to the summit is upwards of 2.2kms (but don't go thinking it's an easy ride).

Post-run coffee: You'll deserve one. Try Lonsdale St Roasters in Braddon.

6. Stromlo Forest Park

Image via stromloforestpark.com.au

Cross country runners, walkers and bikers alike — both professional and amateur — love this world-class recreation spot, which is just a 10 minute drive from the city. Stromlo treats runners to a manicured grass track that accommodates fast, flat running along with some more challenging hilly sections and sharp turns to keep you on your toes.

Distance: The full circuit is 2.5km, but there are also shorter loops measuring 1, 1.5 and 2km. The choice is yours.

Post-run coffee: Scope Mount Stromlo.

What's your favourite run in Canberra?

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