If you’re a runner who prefers wildlife over city pigeons, dirt paths to the pavement, and the occasional mountain bike ride to the sidewalk cycle, you’re probably drawn to trail running. Whether you prefer dusty canyons or lush tropics, here are the five best running trails in the U.S.
McKenzie River Trail
The McKenzie River Trail follows the McKenzie River as it bends along the Cascade Mountains. Its 27 miles includes single-track trails, steep climbs, and descents, sharp turns and leads you through former lava fields and past hot springs through the old-growth forest. The route is also home to a 50k race and is considered one of the best mountain biking trails in the country.
Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine
This well-known trail spans 2,179 miles and passes through 14 states, making it not only home to a number of elite ultrarunners who run it end to end, but also the daily destination for locals who prefer trail to the road. You can find easily accessible running sections near Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The 11-mile Kalalau Trail may be one of the most beautiful trails in the U.S. Along the route, you’ll come across towering sea cliffs, waterfalls, white sandy beaches, lush tropics, and even ancient Hawaiian ruins. But it’s no easy feat, so be prepared for a grueling effort. Also, an additional perk: the Kalalau is the only land access to the Na Pali Coast on the northwest side of the island.
The Dale Ball Trails
Santa Fe, New Mexico
A collection of looped single-track trails “through the rolling piñon and juniper-covered foothills” just outside of Santa Fe, the Dale Ball Trails feature difficult switchbacks and some steep hills. The Dale Ball Central Trail is a 6.3‑mile moderate trail with a few climbs and the Dale Ball North Trail is a bit easier, at 3.7 miles.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Located just outside of Colorado Springs with over 703 acres with 25 miles of trail, Palmer Park routes traverse through picturesque western land dotted with yucca cactus and sandstone bluffs. There are several trails ranging beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, so this is a great running destination for all runners. Though do pay attention, as its also popular among mountain bikers and equestrians.