Maybe you’ve already packed your bags and you’re planning to head outdoors ‒ then why not find a running trail with picturesque scenery? Or maybe you want to take a quick break from the hustle and bustle of the city and want to find a great running trail near you.
Whatever your reason is, the US actually has some of the most beautiful (and challenging if you’re up for a little adrenaline) running trails in the world. From breathtaking mountain passes to gorgeous seaside routes, there’s certainly plenty of running trails in America that you can choose from.
So, ready to hit the trail? Here are the most challenging running trail spots in the US that you absolutely have to check out:
1. Tahoe Rim Trail, Nevada
Known to be one of the largest alpine lakes in the world, it is surrounded by the ridiculously gorgeous Tahoe Rim Trail. The area has ten official trailheads, and a couple of unofficial ones, so planning your route is quite a breeze in this 165-mile loop.
No matter where you want to start, all your efforts will be rewarded by stunning meadows, lakes, and snowy peaks. If you want to push it a little further, you can sign up for the Emerald Bay Trail Run, a technical, seven-mile race that’s held every September.
Alternatively, you can also explore these trails at any time on your own. Just make sure that you check the rail conditions first before going because some trails are closed during the winter months.
2. Crow Pass Trail, Alaska
Just an hour’s drive from Anchorage, you’d come across Girdwood, where the gorgeous Crow Pass Trail is located. The trail is about 21 miles, and just after the first few miles, you’d come across the scenic waterfalls, wildflowers, glaciers, and an occasional mountain goat.
The trail isn’t suited for the faint-hearted as there are also several bear sightings in the area, and during the colder months, you might avoid this trail because of the risk of avalanches.
More seasoned trail runners can join the Crow Pass Crossing, a trail race that happens every July and crosses the challenging Eagle River.
3. Santa Catalina Island, California
Nestled on the coast of Southern California is Catalina Island, which houses about 165 miles of running trails and fit for skill levels. Moreover, the island holds running events every year, such as a marathon, triathlon, and even a 50-miler.
For you to get there, you need to take an hour-long ferry ride, but the travel time is worth is as you bask in the beautiful rugged coastlines and calming ocean views.
You might also come across a couple of wildlife along its trails like a bison or a rattlesnake, so always take caution.
4. Ice Age Trail, Wisconsin
This running trail takes you back in time as you marvel in the landscape that was shaped by glacial ice approximately 12,000 years ago. The trail spans for about thousands of miles, so you have to decide beforehand which sections you want to go to.
Note that some parts of the trail are also closed during the winter. If you’re up for it, you can also sign up for the Ice Age Trail 50 Endurance Run, a 50k, half marathon that happens annually in May.
5. Finger Lakes Trail System, New York
This consists of a network of trails that spans for about thousands of miles. starting from the Allegheny State Park on Pennsylvania to Catskills, in the southeastern portion of New York.
When you’re in the Finger Lakes region, an excellent running trail is the 580-mile main Finger Lakes Trail, consisting of six branch trails and 29 spur and loop trails. From this trail, expect breathtaking waterfalls, picturesque overlooks, and a lot of wildlife on the trails.
A majority of these trails suit skills of all levels, but there are particular sections in the area that might be closed for hunting, so make sure you check the trail conditions beforehand before heading out. Equally as challenging, check out these hiking trails in Connecticut.
6. Appalachian Trail, Georgia to Maine
This running trail spans for a staggering 2,180+ miles and covers about 14 states. Meaning, you have unlimited options and are well-suited no matter what your skill level is.
If you want to narrow down your options, why not sign yourself up for an Appalachian day hike which ranges in skill level and difficulty. Any of these can also serve as an excellent running trail.
Note that the weather can change on a trail that’s located near the East Coast, so check the weather conditions in the area first before venturing out.
7. Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas
Known to be Texas’ largest state park, and is sitting just right next to the Rio Grande, this trail features miles and miles of rugged trails.
Just like the Big Bend National Park, the area is designated as an International Dark Sky Park, making it an excellent location if you want to go for a start-gazing excursion post-run.
It’s also best that you visit this park during January, and be part of the race series known as Big Bend Ultra, featuring a 10k, 30k, 50k and 50-miler.
8. Moab Trails, Utah
This desert town features thousands of miles of breathtaking red rock landscapes, as well as a lot of running trail that’s open all year long. It’s also where endurance races like Moab Trail Marathon take place every year during November, and during spring, the Canyonlands Half Marathon. All of these races easily fill up, so you should sign up ahead of time. Also, bring with you quality running shoes that could handle more rugged terrain.
So, there you have it. Those are our list of the best, (and most challenging!) running trails in the US. Not to mention, you’ll get to see a ton of stunning scenery when you travel on foot. So, pack a pair of running shoes, shorts, a t-shirt, and you’re almost good to go.
It’s now time to hit the trails, fast!