10 Trails That Will Motivate You to Start Trail Running

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Some of you are probably already trail runners, some of you may have dabbled, and others may avoid them altogether. We rounded up some of the most gorgeous trails in the United States that will have even the most adamant road runner hitting the dirt.

Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit: Bart

With more than 32 miles of dirt trails that wind through the woods, past waterfalls, and along ridges, Rock Creek Park is a great place for beginner and expert trail runners alike. It’s one of the oldest federal parks, established in 1890, and has two main trails – the green-blazed Western Ridge Trail, and the blue-blazed Valley Trail.

Dipsea Trail, Mill Valley, CA

Photo Credit: advencap
Photo Credit: advencap

Found within the Muir Woods National Monument, this place is very popular in the trail running world, because of the Dipsea Trail Race, founded in 1905 (and the oldest trail race in the world). It’s a challenging, technical trail, but many people love the views of the Pacific and the San Francisco Bay so much that it’s worth walking when you need to. Not to mention that it goes through the only old-growth coastal redwood forest in the San Francisco Bay area.

Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Photo Credit: Mike Shaffner
Photo Credit: Mike Shaffner

Again, not the easiest trail (considering the elevation of Colorado), but look at that picture! The Bear Lake trail up to Emerald passes by a couple other lakes on the way, but the trip is worth it.

Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

Photo Credit: Dan Dwyer
Photo Credit: Dan Dwyer

There trail is mostly level, running along sea cliffs and through lush valleys with some stunning drop-offs and wonderful views. Look for wild goats grazing along the Kalalau trail!

Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Photo Credit: Shane Lin
Photo Credit: Shane Lin

Most people have heard of the iconic Appalachian Trail, that runs more than 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia. Any section of the trail is beautiful, but we especially recommend running through the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Want a glimpse at the whole trail? Check out this 5-minute time lapse video from ultrarunner Karl Metzler.

McKenzie River Trail, Eugene, Oregon

It's also super popular for mountain biking. Photo Credit: Dave H.
It’s also super popular for mountain biking. Photo Credit: Dave H.

The whole trail is 27 miles, but don’t let that scare you away – simply go out and back and much or as little as you’d like. But once you get out there, surrounded by greenery, running over log bridges and past lava fields and past hot springs, you may want to keep going.

Moab, Utah

Take a run through Arches National Park. Photo Credit: Bowman!
Take a run through Arches National Park. Photo Credit: Bowman!

The great thing about running in Moab, Utah, is that no matter where you go, you’ll be surrounded by the beautiful red rocks that the area is known for. There are tons of trail options to choose from, so all you need to do is get out there!

Mullens Cove Loop Trail, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Photo Credit: Nickajack Naturalist
Photo Credit: Nickajack Naturalist

Close to downtown Chattanooga, the Mullen Cove Loop Trail has amazing views of of the Tennessee River Gorge and beyond.

Alafia River State Park, Brandon, Florida

Photo Credit: Livin' in a Trailer Down by the River
Photo Credit: Livin’ in a Trailer Down by the River

The park is shady and cool, running around swamps, ponds, creeks. You will see an abundance of wildlife across 17 miles of trails at Alafia River State Park.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon, Texas

Photo Credit: sarowen
Photo Credit: sarowen

Palo Duro Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, is the second largest canyon in the United States. With it’s red rocks, creeks, and meadows, you will wonder if you are in Texas or back in Moab.