Crowded sidewalks and gym treadmills can make even the most seasoned runner dread the idea of lacing up. To breathe some fresh air into your running regime, we’ve rounded up some of the most wanderlust-worthy trails in America. Get going.
Green Mountain Summit, Boulder, CO
Want to get high in Colorado? There’s a trail run for that. Green Mountain, a summit in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, peaks at just over 8,100 feet. The paths are just as gorgeous as the summit itself, with terrain that goes from mountains meadows, to stream crossings, to steep switchbacks. And once you sweat your way to the top, you’ll be met with sweeping views of 14,000-foot mountains (called ‘fourteeners’), Boulder, Denver, and the Continental Divide. Although there’s more than 20 miles of trails, take the five-mile Ragnar/Saddle Rock Route for a shorter, yet challenging route.
Goshen Heritage Trail, Orange County, NY
The beautiful 15-mile Goshen Heritage Trail crosses through several towns in Orange County and is popular among cyclists and joggers. The tree-lined paved walkway even has markers at every half mile with motivational quotes. One of our favorites: “There’s no shortcut to anywhere worth going.”
Sourdough Canyon, Bozeman, MT
If you’re looking to tackle the trails with some friends, we swear by Bozeman Creek (also known as Sourdough Canyon). The old logging road is wider than most routes, making it ideal for pairs and groups. Choose to climb the gradual eight-mile incline out to Mystic Lake, or turn back early if you aren’t ready for a full 16-mile out-and-back. Looking to refuel (and reward yourself) after the work-out? Grab a beer and grass-fed burger at MAP Brewing Company, just a 20-minute drive from the trailhead.
Schultz Creek Trail, Flagstaff, AZ
The Schultz Creek Trail offers a shaded, 9.5-mile out-and-back course if you want to keep things simple, or amp it up by detouring to some of the extra trails off the main path. The best part: it’s perfect for all levels, so bikers, hikers and runners can join in. And when you’re ready to cool off, Macy’s European Coffeehouse and Bakery in downtown Flagstaff is a go-to spot.
Black Cap Mountain, North Conway, NH
Green Hills Preserve and the Redstone Quarry Area’s wooded trails are the ideal jaunt — especially in the fall (think: crisp air, gorgeous foliage, leaves crunching underfoot). Endurance junkies will enjoy Black Cap, a short but steep 1.2-mile climb (2.5 miles round-trip), followed up with some BBQ and brews at MOAT Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing Co.
Kalalau Trail, Kauai, HI
The Kalalau Trail at Ke’e Beach is a destination in itself as it winds along the craggy north shore. The difficult distance — 22 miles round-trip — is fairly technical and features many steep inclines and dramatic drops. But once you reach the end, you’ll be rewarded with a hidden beach of waterfalls, crystal-clear pools and lush cliffs.
Washington Park Arboretum Loop Trail, Seattle, WA
The 230-acre Washington Park Arboretum is a haven for runners, especially due to its panoramic views of Mount Rainier and Montlake Bridge. Most of the trails are off-the-beaten path (read: mulch or dirt), but for the more traditional types, another 1.2 miles of paved tracks are under way.
Pre’s Trail, Eugene, OR
Though this four-mile wooded area attracted the likes of Olympian Steve Prefontaine, it’s definitely doable for beginners. You’ll pass free-flowing streams and catch glances of Autzen Stadium as well as the University of Oregon campus. After you’ve exhausted yourself, hit up the nearby Track Town Pizza for a cheesy recovery meal.
Marin Headlands, San Francisco, CA
This trek to the Marin Headlands begins at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge (not a bad way to start off!). On the uphill journey, pause at one of the scenic overlooks of the Coastal Trail before descending on the famous Dipsea Trail and tracking one of the toughest climbs around: Willow Camp, where you’ll travel along the water by Pirate’s Coast to Muir Beach. The best part? You can customize your own route, running for just five miles or as many as 30.
Mammoth Lakes Meadow, Mammoth Lakes, CA
Nestled between a range of towering 12,000-foot peaks, the Mammoth Lakes Meadow sits directly within the limits of its namesake California ski town. The five-mile trail starts on the fire roads off Sherwin Creek and quickly climbs a short hill up and over into a heavenly single-track trail that meanders through groves of Aspen trees and underneath the scenic Mammoth Rock (make sure to bring your camera!). Then, take a breather and a swig at Black Doubt Brewing.
Breakneck Ridge, Cold Spring, NY
Just a quick 90-minute train ride from New York City, Breakneck Ridge is an easy escape from the concrete jungle. And don’t be intimidated by its name, there are several trailheads for different skill levels. Opt for the six-mile, moderately challenging Bull Hill trail. While there is some scrambling to the top, the views of the Hudson River and the valley are well worth the effort.
Dipsea Trail, Mill Valley, CA
The Dipsea Trail is famous for being part of the second oldest footrace in America. Leaving from downtown Mill Valley, this strenuous 14-mile trail features sweeping vistas of the mountains as well as the towering forest of Muir Woods. The route ends at Stinson Beach, a quaint little seaside town just north of San Francisco, where you can rest your legs and refuel with a smoothie at the Parkside Café.
The Shut-In Trail, Avery Creek, NC
We won’t lie, Shut-In is a steep one, but we adore it for the stunning views of the Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Mountains. While seasoned ultra runners may choose to tackle the route in its entirely (roughly 18 miles), it can be easily broken up into segments for shorter jaunts. But no matter how far you choose to go, make time for some suds at The Wedge Brewery in nearby Asheville.
The Billy Goat Trail, Great Falls National Park, MD
Take a day trip to Great Falls National Park, 30 minutes outside of Washington D.C. Bordered by wild flowers, the gorgeous nature trails border the Potomac River and its tranquil waterfalls. With three different route options to choose from, you can pick your poison in terms of route length and terrain difficulty, but the 7.3-mile Billy Goat path is always a winner.