Whether you prefer to run amid beautiful scenery (OK, who doesn’t?), on a challenging trail, or with the occasional moose or bear crossing your path, we’ve narrowed down a few exceptional places to get your run on from sea to shining sea.
Kalalau Trail, Kauai: This strenuous 11-mile trail is probably one of the most gorgeous runs you’ll ever experience. (Hard to imagine since it’s on the beautiful island of Kauai, right?) But many reputable publications have also deemed it one of the most dangerous trails in the world, due to occasional falling rock and three streams that cross the trail and rise rapidly during heavy rain. All dangers aside, this route along the Na Pali Coast on Kauai’s north shore offers unforgettable cliff and ocean views leading to Hanakapi’ai Beach two miles in and Hanakapi’ai Falls another two miles after that. You’ll have to slow down on narrow or switchback parts of this trail, but look at it as a chance to take in all the magnificent scenery.
When to go: Kauai’s rainy season occurs in winter, so summer months (especially July and August) are the best time to go. Stay up-to-date on the weather, even during the summer, and avoid this trail during rainstorms.
: I ran the U.S. Half Marathon in San Francisco a few years ago while living in the city, and part of the route took runners across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. It was such an exhilarating stretch that I started incorporating the bridge into my daily runs. Apart from the jaw-dropping scenery, everything is dwarfed by this orange giant. I’m not sure if it’s the grandeur of the bridge, the vast Pacific Ocean swirling underneath, the fog rolling up and over the Marin Headlands, cars whizzing past in close proximity or a combination of all the above, but a run across this massive beauty gets the adrenaline surging and is unlike any other run imaginable.
When to go: San Francisco usually has a favorable running climate year-round. The winters and summers are typically mild, though both can be chilly, and it’s always windy on the bridge. Layers are key and make sure one of them is waterproof. Check opening and closing times of the bridge sidewalk before heading across, it closes earlier in winter months and stays open later as the days get longer.
Anchorage, Alaska: The city, surrounded by Chugach State Park, which spans half-million acres, has a crazy number of trails on which to run with just about any kind of scenery and experience your heart desires. Want to take a jog up a 13,000-foot mountain? See beluga whales, moose or grizzly bears? Catch a glimpse of the city’s skyline? It’s all possible here.
The Williwaw Valley Trail, within Chugach State Park, offers runners a scenic 14-miles along Middle Fork Campbell Creek. You’ll see the shimmering emerald lakes of Mount Williwaw, and an occasional sighting of a Dall sheep or moose should be expected. Even better, the nearby 22-mile Powerline Pass Trail crosses through prime moose habitat with views of Flat Top and O’Malley peaks.
The Turnagain Arm Trail is a mere 15 minutes from Anchorage and promises to be a grueling eight-mile run. The reward here though is spotting beluga whales off Beluga Point. And for a little easier pace, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, a beautiful 11-miler, gently winds along the coast connecting downtown Anchorage to the chalet at Kincaid. Explore the wilderness by day, and enjoy the city by night.
When to go: June through August sees the best temperatures for running. Not only that, but you’ll have daylight until about 1 a.m.
The Apache Trail, Arizona: Named after the Apache Indians who once used the route, this 40-mile steep and winding road take you from Apache Junction, just outside of Phoenix, through the Superstition Mountains and into the Tonto National Forest. You’ll have stunning views of the Apache and Canyon lakes surrounded by saguaro and barrel cacti, majestic cliffs and twisted ravines. Primitive free camping, as well as more modern campsites, are located along the Apache Trail. Don’t miss stopping to catch your breath at the Tonto National Monument, two well-preserved Salado Indian cliff dwellings which date back to 1,300 AD.
When to go: In case the cactus mention didn’t tip you off, this is desert country, so it’s best to avoid running this trail in the summer months and go between November and April.
Prospect Park Loop, Brooklyn: Widely known as Central Park’s cousin—as it was designed by the same guys—Prospect Park’s 526-acres features a zoo, wetlands, the first urban-area Audubon Center in the U.S., a seasonal ice and roller-skating rink, a carousel, a farmer’s market on Saturdays, free music performances in the bandshell and tons of facilities for any exerciser. The 3.35-mile tree-lined loop, which skirts the perimeter of this Brooklyn gem, makes for the perfect run any time of year. And once you’ve finished, cool off at any of the many attractions Prospect Park has to offer.
When to go: It’s beautiful year-round and there’s always something going on here! When it comes to running, however, visit Prospect Park in autumn to see the leaves awash in vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. Or go in April and May for a different color explosion of tulips, forsythia, and flowering cherry and dogwood trees.
Are there any places you think we missed on this list? Are there any you’ve already been to? If not, you can visit two of these fantastic running spots — the Apache Trail and Golden Gate Bridge — at any time of the year from the comfort of your gym with SENZA™ Journeys! There are a variety of virtual runs available for you to explore. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!