While metropolitan life certainly has it’s benefits, there’s no question that escaping into nature improves overall health and wellness. It’s not always easy to enjoy the changing colors that autumn brings, especially considering most cities are complete concrete jungles. And for trail runners, the quest to find the perfect spot often seems endless. But, thankfully, it’s totally possible to carve out your own little slice of heaven if you look hard enough.
Whether you’re an East Coaster or dwell in the Dirty South, there’s a great trail waiting for you to conquer this autumn. You’ll find these outstanding trail running spots either within city limits or in close proximity, so they’re perfect for decompressing after a long work week.
Los Angeles, California
Finding fresh air is a priority for Los Angeles trail runners, which is why Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is an ideal escape, especially in autumn. There isn’t a bad trail to choose from, but the Sea Dahlia Trail actually takes you down to the water’s edge where you can discover several tide pools. And if you get creative, you can connect to Portuguese Bend, Filiorum and Three Sisters Reserves for even more miles of trails.
New York, New York
Located on the Hudson River north of the city, Bear Mountain State Park has everything you need for an ideal trail run including dense forest and challenging elevation gain. Come autumn, the trees light up in yellows and oranges, making the park especially perfect for a trail outing. The Timp Torne Trail is the longest in the park at 6.5 miles, but it connects at multiple points with other trails throughout the 235-mile network.
While it’s more developed than classic singletrack, the main trail at Waterfall Glen County Forest Preserve is a true retreat from urban Chicago. The main trail circumnavigates the Argonne National Laboratory, flowing through lush forest that illuminate every fall. While it might be too cold to take a dip in November, you’ll pass a swim-worthy waterfall on the 9.5 mile trail.
It’s clear to everyone that Denver has some pretty excellent trails, but running North Table Loop in Golden is an absolute must. The 7.5 trail navigates through high desert features on top of North Table Mountain (technically a mesa), providing unbelievable views of the flaming aspens each autumn.
Drive north from Atlanta’s urban sprawl and take advantage of the vast trail system and seasonal colors at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. With over 9,700 acres to explore, the trails seem endless. For a long and particularly scenic route, test out the Cochran Shoals trail which connects to Sope Creek. The combination creates 8.5 miles of refreshing autumn goodness.
The Emerald City’s trail running scene is massive, which means there are hundreds of great tracks to choose from. A serious contender for best choice is the Chuckanut Ridge Trail because of it’s complex terrain and epic views of Mt. Baker (on clear days.) While the trail is only 2.5 miles one way, the continual height fluctuation makes it a tough workout for anyone. You won’t mind the seriously breathtaking autumn hues, either.
Long distance trail runners love Philly’s Forbidden Drive for it’s 7 miles of shaded bliss. The out-and-back trail follows the Wissahickon Creek the entire way, creating a perfect retreat after a long and hot summer in the city. For an even longer route, connect Forbidden Drive to the Yellow and Orange Trails at several different points along the way.