Best U.S. Cities for Running

If you live in a city and want to go running, all you have to do is go out your door and follow the sidewalk around the block a time or two, right? If only that were true. Fortunately, some U.S. cities have invested heavily in the sport of running as a way to keep their citizens happy and healthy.

So what are some of the best cities for running?  Maybe you should consider making room for your running shoes in your carry-on if you’re heading to one of these U.S. cities:

1. Chicago, Illinois.

One of the perennial favorites, the Windy City has an impressive 18-mile running path that winds its way along the shore of Lake Michigan. The cooling breezes off the Lake are a blessing in the summer while the spectacular park scenery and the amazing Chicago skyline keep you going, regardless of the season. There are water fountains dotting the path to help keep you hydrated while you run.

2. New York, New York

No list would be complete without the Big Apple. This concrete jungle is runner friendly, from the 60,000 members of the New York Road Runners club to the spectacular six-mile track around Central Park. You’ll always find plenty of other runners training on this track year-round. The city boasts the largest marathon in the country with a route that spans all five boroughs.

3. Portland, Oregon

Trek across the country to Oregon to find the running trails winding along the Willamette River. The multiple trails here all have one thing in common: tree-lined running paths with incredible views of the city and surrounding terrain. If you need some gear before you start your run, you’re in luck. Nike and Adidas headquarters are found in Portland.

4. Boulder, Colorado

There’s running, and then there’s running in the altitude of Boulder. It doesn’t take many jogs over the different local terrains, from flatland to Rocky Mountain trails, to get you into shape for any upcoming races you were thinking of tackling. If you train at altitude, your lungs will think they’re on vacation when you run at sea level.

5. Washington, D.C.

You can’t talk about cities and running without mentioning Washington, D.C., home of the Marine Corp Marathon. With a five-mile trail that takes you past the Capitol, the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial, it simply doesn’t get much better than this. In the springtime, be sure to hit the Rock Creek Park trails. The cherry blossoms in bloom is a can’t-miss event!

6. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

Any city that offers up over 50 miles of trails for runners is serious about attracting the runner crowd. Training this far north can be a challenge in itself so to run here you have to be committed and hearty. A bevy of running groups work together to keep each other motivated through the winter months, and the view around the Chain of Lakes in the spring makes it all worthwhile.

7. Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta offers a variety of places to run but the most popular is by far the 17 miles of paved trails that take you on a tour through a Civil War battle site. Several popular races are organized every year by the Atlanta Track Club.

Top U.S. Parks for Trail Running

There’s no denying that there are some fantastic parks in the U.S. parks system. No matter what sort of outdoor fun you’re into, you can probably find a U.S. park that can accommodate you. Love to run? Many parks feature great trails for running, and without the visual boredom of running circles around a track.

Looking for a challenge? A few trails that can really test your skills and stamina? Check out these—certainly no walk in the park:

1. Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona

Hard-core runners are always looking for places that put their endurance to the test. Arizona’s Lake Mead offers multiple trails that will test endurance and stamina while leading you into amazing canyons. If you are really looking to test yourself, remember that the temperatures in the Mojave Desert can reach 120ºF in the summer. And that’s in the shade. For the more casual runner, there are less dramatic running trails to occupy your time.

2. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

If you’re looking for fantastic views to go along with your rigorous trail run, the Grand Canyon has the terrain you may be looking for. The running trails here are clearly marked, to prevent wandering into unsafe territory, and give you spectacular views at either sunrise or sunset. If you’re yearning for an extreme challenge, try the 21 miles of the rim-to-rim (R2R) run. If you’re serious and want to push your limits, go for the rim-to-rim-to-rim (R2R2R) run. That one will take you over approximately 40 rigorous miles.

3. Zion National Park in Utah

This park never seems to run out of hills and climbing trails, and the elevation never dips below 3,500 feet. The pride-and-joy of the park is the grueling 2.5-mile run ascending to Angels Landing. The reward at the end is the most spectacular view in the entire park. There are easier trails for those not up to the challenge of Angels Landing. For those looking for long distance, the Zion Traverse is a run from one edge of the park to the other; a total of 48 miles.

4. Channel Islands National Park in California

Four islands make up this national park and each one proudly promotes its trails for hiking and running. To run these paths, you need to be surefooted and well-balanced, and you need to know the art of pacing yourself. There are various trails of differing levels, with most of the seriously challenging trails cutting a path into the mountainous interiors of the island, leaving the coastal trails for the casual runner. Length of the trails range from a short 2 miles to a strenuous 20 miles. The islands are only accessible by boat or plane, with the trip taking one to three hours.

Whether you’re looking for the challenge of a lifetime or just a nice place to take a leisurely jog, don’t overlook the trails available at our U.S. National Parks. Some of the best scenery is to be found in these parks, so enjoy it as a bonus while you’re running.