Best National Parks for Trail Running
5 months ago
For over a century, the United States National Park system has been a segway to the great outdoors for all who visit. Promising escapes from everyday bustles in busier places, the parks offer an opportunity to step back, dive into nature, and most importantly get us back in touch with ourselves. For those that are part of the trail running community, these parks offer that much more. Trail running in the National and other state designated Parks can be some of the best trails to run in due to general upkeep and accessibility. Although this does not lessen their difficulty, having clearly defined trails in some of the most beautiful locations throughout the country provides the perfect landscape for new and seasoned trail runners. With so many trails to choose from, we set out with you to choose some of the best parks for trail running, happy trails!
What Makes A Good Trail Route
First of all, what makes a good trail run is picking the right trail for you. Knowing how to choose a good trail for your skill level, desired duration, and scenery are all factors to consider when choosing a trail. Heeding the park’s warning signs (i.e. wildlife, falling rocks, obstructions) are always things to keep at the forefront when picking your run. When trying to find a trail that suits your needs, there are a few factors to consider. First, what level of difficulty are you looking for? Is it steep terrain, or do you enjoy an easy run with a beautiful view? Second, when running in the parks, always look at the hours of operation. The last thing you want is to be caught on a long run and realize the park closes in a few minutes. Thirdly, how populated/designated is this trail? It is all fun and games heading into the unknown, but it is always good to have the run mapped out, especially in a place that does not have great cell reception. To compete with fading battery life and few bars, consider picking up a physical map at the trailhead. Most maps will show markings, distances, and spots you can go to in case of an emergency. Keeping these factors in mind is a great way to find the perfect trail for your run.
Best Parks for Trial Running
Each park boasts an impressive array of options for your trail running needs. While we could not begin to list out each awesome trail run, here are some top five parks that have some impressive trail options for any trail runner.
Rocky Mountain National ParkEncompassing 415 square miles of mountains, Rocky Mountain National Park will take your trial running to new levels. Located on either side of the Continental Divide, a trail runner can expect spectacular forests, alpine lakes, and a host of plants and animals that will leave you breathless (but hopefully not due to the run). With over 72 peaks at about 12,000 miles, this National Park is definitely one of the best for seasoned trail runners. A top trail? Try Lumpy Ridge Loop, a favorite for many on Devil’s Gulch, a 10-mile loop promising spectacular views.
Acadia National ParkLocated on the historic Atlantic coastline, if you are looking for a scenic route with an abundance of habitats, wildlife, and cultural activities, look no further. There are many trails to choose from in Acadia, with many of them boasting coastal and lakeside views. Acadia National Park contains over 158 miles of hiking trails, Including the Cadillac North Ridge Trail, which takes you up an incline to gorgeous lake views. Approximately 4.2 miles, this trail will leave its mark for both its stunning scenery and arduous path.
Olympic National ParkLocated in the Pacific Northwest, the million-acre property provides a host of wildlife, habitats, and landforms for runners to enjoy. Against the coast, the trails follow the beaches, and runners are sure to enjoy the incredible climate found in the PNW. For trails, look for either the Hoh River Trail to Five Mile Island for a moderate ten miler, or the Lake of Angels, where incredible altitude intersects the incredible views.
Zion National ParkZion National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States, and for a reason. Known for its incredibly challenging hikes, it attracts adventurers and runners alike. For those who may not necessarily need to go to the populated Angel’s Landing, you may consider the Zion National Park Half Marathon, which occurs every year in February (perfect weather for trail running in Utah). For those who may want to get out and off the beaten path, try the West Trim Trail to Lava Point, guaranteed to provide some of the most breathtaking views in the park. Come prepared, this trail is one of the most difficult the park has to offer!
Great Smoky Mountains National ParkEncompassing over a half-million acres of forest, 900 miles of trails, and 72 miles of the Appalachian Trail, we would be remiss to not include Great Smoky Mountains National Park on our list. The country’s most visited national park, the thick forest, lush wildlife, and incredible history will attract any trail runner looking for their next adventure. If you are looking for an adventure, try the Smokies High Peaks Trail. Beginning with a long climb from Kephart Prong to Mount LeConte, this route is sure to challenge any trail runner - and bring spectacular views as well.
BUBS: A Trail Runner’s Best Partner
Trail running requires skills, determination, and endurance that go above and beyond your usual run through the neighborhood. Training your body for the stamina it needs requires a serious running partner. For those looking to amplify their trail running experience with a natural collagen supplement that will protect mobility and keep you energized longer - look for BUBS Collagen Protein. If you are looking to take your best self to the trails, let BUBS Naturals certified collagen products take you on whichever trail you choose.