Here in the U.S., we’re lucky enough to have some of the most gorgeous parks and trails on the entire planet. While you can always spend your weekends running the same beaten paths at your local state park, why not take on a new adventure? To help you discover all the natural splendor that this great nation has to offer, we’ve listed 6 of America’s finest running trails.
Shut-In Trail- Asheville, NC. Surrounding the famous Biltmore mansion is North Carolina’s most historic trail, the great Shut-In Trail. Along the 18 mile stretch, elevation changes over 3,000 feet, drawing only the boldest and bravest runners in the world. Catch a breather over one of several immense valleys and gaze at the Appalachian Mountains towering in the vast blue horizon.
Ice Age National Scenic Trail- Door County, WI. Looking to run where saber tooth cats and wooly mammoths once stomped? Head to the Midwest and give yourself a real history lesson at the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. A geologist’s and archaeologist’s paradise, this 600-mile trail has a slew of visible features left behind by glaciation, from marshes and gravel deposits to ice-walled lake plains.
The Long Trail- Vermont. The poster-boy of the Green Mountain State runs 272 miles along Vermont’s border, all the way from Northwest Massachusetts to Canada. Test your limits with the steep and rugged paths of the Long Trail, while navigating your way through Vermont’s highest peaks and cerulean ponds and streams.
Keep in mind, the Long Trail draws thousands of runners every year, so you’ll want to keep your ears open for other runners on the trail as well as the diverse range of wildlife throughout the park. If you use an audio device while you run, a great way to stay aware of your surroundings on the trail is by using one earbud and tucking the other one under your shirt. However, we all know the sound quality of one earbud on a dual earbud set isn’t very good, and a dangling earbud can be distracting.
On the other hand, an even better way to listen to audio and stay safe while running is by using a single earbud headphone set, such as the XDU Single Earphone from Far End Gear. By channeling both sides of a stereo mix in one earbud, the XDU Single Earphone allows you to fully enjoy your favorite music or podcasts while keeping one ear open so you can stay aware of your surroundings while on the trail. It even features a reflective fabric-wrapped cord, so you can stay visible when running after sunset.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park- Canyon, Texas. It has the nation’s second largest canyon and an 11-mile trail that’s simply seeping with Texan frontier history. Run through the old Southwest as you’ve always pictured it—burgundy cliffs against orange and pink skies and cactuses alongside the path as clay dust rises in the trail behind you. Run this trail and you’ll never be the same.
Laurel Highlands National Scenic Trail- Ohiopyle, PA. It may not be the most difficult trail you’ll run, but it sure is one of the most gorgeous. Laurel Highlands Scenic Trail is home of one of the oldest distance trail races in the nation, offering 70 miles of open paths so runners can enjoy the view. Be sure to visit the trail in the fall so that you can bask in the autumn foliage surrounding the breathtaking Youghiogheny River Gorge.
McKenzie River Trail- Oregon. America’s #1 biking trail is also a huge destination for runners, featuring 26 miles of lavish rainforest terrain. You’ll cross a slew of log bridges, pass boiling springs, and lose your train of thought at the white noise of towering waterfalls. The McKenzie River Trail is full of aromatic Douglas firs, sprawling moss, and of course, the sparkling McKenzie River, making it a bucket list destination for anyone who loves the outdoors.