From easy paved tracks to rough mountain paths, there is trail out there for every level of runner. We’ve listed a few scenic trails that are worth checking out:
San Francisco, CA
The crown jewel of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, this trail system is full of natural wonders and historic sites just outside a major metropolitan area. From the 2-mile loop of the Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve to the 9.5-mile Tomales Point Trail, there’s plenty of beauty to behold.
There are more than 200 miles of trails within the Boulder area. Mesa Trail, a local favorite, connects a huge network of trails through this beautiful countryside. The area is rich with wildlife, including peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks, mule deer and more.
Fort Circle Park National Recreation Trail
Trail running in the nation’s capital is as much a history lesson as it is a workout. The 7.9-mile Fort Circle Parks National Recreation Trail along the hilltops along the Anacostia River, following the chain of forts that once guarded bridges, Capitol Hill and naval installations.
Blackwater Heritage State Trail
Follow the route of the old Florida and Alabama Railroad on this flat, rural and urban 8.1-mile paved trail that features creek crossings on wooden bridges. There are five trailheads for convenient trail access. The trail ends at the Naval Air Station Whiting Field.
The Dale Ball Trails
Santa Fe, NM
The Dale Ball Trails consists of 22 miles of looped single-track trails close to Santa Fe. Terrain ranges from easy to difficult, all with stunning desert views. The trail features a unique numbered sign system at each junction, providing easy navigation and access to other local trails.
At 16.3 miles and with 3,000 feet of vertical climbing, this trail features its share of challenges. It is part of the Nantahala National Forest and also includes several shorter hikes with varying degrees of difficulty.
Arcadia Management Reserve
This trail offers runners 14,000 acres of pristine forest in the southwest part of the state. The trails are rough and mixed use, for mountain bikes and equestrians, so you’ll need to share the road.
Broken into 11 segments and totaling more than 140 miles winding through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this historic trail was once a trade route for the Native American tribes that lived in the region.
Warner Park Trails
Located just nine miles from downtown Nashville, Edwin and Percy Warner Parks span 2,684 acres of forest and field along with 12 miles of primitive hiking trails. The trails range from easy to moderate skill levels, all nestled in a unique natural area within an urban setting.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
This nearly 8-mile trail features dense, lush vegetation, limestone cliffs and popular swimming areas. Austin packs about 19,000 acres of parks into its city limits — and the surrounding Hill Country features even more single-track trails.
The Sugar River State Trail
This trail follows an abandoned railroad line that meanders through wetlands, shaded forests and ancient, untouched prairies. This 24-mile trail system also features 14 trestle bridges and is part of the 1,000 mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Check out the beginner’s guide to trail running for an off road fitness activity here.
Doug Hay is a trail and ultra runner, coach and the founder of the training site Rock Creek Runner.