Hit the Ground Running
Chances are your local running club has information about trail running locations nearby. It might even sponsor a trail race, and at the very least its membership will include some avid trail runners who can tell you where the best trails are.
Or you might be lucky enough to live within striking distance of these trail-running gems, some of which are located in surprisingly urban areas:
Wissahickon Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Why: More than 70 miles of wooded hiking and equestrian trails laced throughout a river gorge in the city's northwest section.
What's special: Variable terrain, deep woods, waterfalls, open meadows, and silence . . . all within city limits.
Where: Valley Green parking area is at the end of Valley Green Road in the Chestnut Hill section of the city.
Contact: Friends of the Wissahickon sells a fine map ($5).
Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.
Why: More trail miles of single-track than you could hike or run in several days, and only minutes from the Lincoln Monument.
What's special: Run beside a rocky stream, climb steep hills, delve into lovely beech/oak forest. Make way for horses.
Where: Peirce Mill parking area is located on Tilden Street where it crosses Rock Creek in the city's northwest quadrant. Trails begin to the north of the mill.
Contact: Potomac Appalachian Trail Club sells a terrific guide to the hiking/equestrian trails in the park for $5.
Umstead State Park, Raleigh, North Carolina
Why: Twenty miles of hilly dirt and gravel on old fire roads and single-track.
What's special: A few deer, no crowds, and lots of close-ups of arriving and departing airplanes.
Where: Trailheads on I-40 and US 70 near the airport.
Contact: William B. Umstead State Park, (919) 787-3033.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Why: Thirteen miles of roaring rivers, quiet streams, and secluded ridge tops.
What's special: The loop connects two of the park's premier wildflower trails. You'll pass 4050 different species in bloom on an early spring run.
Where: Connect the West Prong, Schoolhouse Gap, and Chestnut Top Trails with a quiet two miles of pavement.
Contact: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, (865) 436-1297, or visit GORP's GSMNP pages.
Day hiking in Great Smoky Mountains NP
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication