Trail running has really begun to boom in popularity in recent years. More and more people are getting outside to run (instead of on a treadmill in the gym), and many of those are getting tired of the local high school track and pounding their body on the pavement.
Running trials is not only scenic, but also provides a much greater challenge. Those who have taken this up seriously say there are some trail running destinations you can’t miss. Five of them are listed below.
The Grand Canyon
Located in Arizona, this landmark of trail running destinations is 24 miles from rim to rim, or 48 miles rim to rim to rim. Spring (late April – early May) and fall (late October – early November) are the best times to go when the weather isn’t too hot out. On your run, you’ll get to experience crazy heights, beautiful rock formations, and the Colorado River. Be sure to stop along the way at the Phantom Ranch Cantina to eat, get some water, or even the mid-run beer.
The best time of year to hit 9 Trails in Santa Barbara, CA is May – August, but year-round nice weather makes it a good visit at almost any time. What sets this spot in the Los Padres National Forest apart from other trail running destinations is its various routes. Without a set path, you can choose any system of loops, switchbacks, and hills to take any course you like. In fact, this makes it ideal for returning to, as you could run it several times without making the same journey twice.
Leadville 100 Run
If ultrarunning is your thing, then the 100-mile race in Leadville, CO is for you. Taking place in August, the Leadville 100 will take you high into the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, including across Hope Pass. If you want to finish before the 25-hour cutoff mark, be sure you do some elevation training first, as you’ll be going as high as 12,500 feet above sea level. But don’t worry if it ends up being more than you bargained for, as there are 11 aid stations along the route to help you out.
Maybe 100-mile ultrarunning is child’s play to you. If so, then you have over 2100 miles of Appalachian Trail you can trek through. Stretching from Georgia to Maine and best visited March – September, this ultimate of trail running destinations will take you along almost the entire east coast. Many aren’t up for jogging the whole thing, so hiking parts of it is on many trail runners’ bucket list. Be sure you don’t miss the beer and burgers at Big Meadow Lodge.
Eagle Rock Loop
Looking for spectacular Cascades Mountains views, rippling creeks surrounded by evergreens, and difficult, rock hurdle filled terrain, but prefer something on the shorter side? Then 5.6-mile long Eagle Rock Loop in Sisters, OR is the ticket. Best trekked March – May and September – November to avoid the snow and harsh dry heat, extend your enjoyment by finishing off your run after trotting through the quaint western-themed town of Sisters to get to Eagle Rock Loop trailhead.
There are many great trail running destinations around the country. These five show that you can not only have something as short as a few miles to as long as several states, but see everything from rivers to mountains to evergreens. Many of these locales are true destinations in that they provide excellent lodging, great food, and welcome people from all over to come enjoy themselves while getting great exercise and having an experience they’ll never forget. For more adventure, check out our article on five fun races to participate in around the world.