Hit the Ground Running
Centennial Trail, Custer State Park, South Dakota
Why: Twelve miles of rolling trail that will convince you that the Black Hills are real mountains.
What's special: Don't worry about crowded trails. You're more likely to share your route with deer, pronghorn, bison, or mountain goats than other runners.
Where: Trailheads at French Creek and Iron Creek Campgrounds.
Contact: Custer State Park, (605) 255-4515.
Turquoise Lake Trail, Leadville, Colorado
Why: Six miles of trail along the north shore of Turquoise Lake, all of which are part of the course for the Leadville Trail 100, trail running's equivalent of the Boston Marathon.
What's special: Start at nearly 10,000-feet elevation in the highest range of the Rocky Mountains. Breathe deeply.
Where: Trailheads at May Queen Campground and Turquoise Lake Dam.
Contact: San Isabel National Forest (719) 545-8737.
South Mountain Park, Phoenix, Arizona
Why: Fifteen miles of packed dirt high above the Valley of the Sun.
What's special: A great combination of hills and trails overlooking Phoenix.
Where: Trailheads at South Mountain Park off Central Avenue and at 48th Street and Guadalupe Road.
Contact: Arizona Road Racers at www.arizonaroadracers.com
Tahoe Rim Trail, Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Why: Dozens of miles of trails and old dirt roads on the lake's eastern shore.
What's special: Breathtaking views across Lake Tahoe to the Desolation Wilderness.
Where: The easiest trailhead to find is at Spooner Summit on US 50.
Contact: Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, (916) 573-2600, or http://www.TahoeMtnMilers.org
Dipsea Trail, Marin County, California
Why: Open spaces in the Bay Area are laced with trails ideal for runners. Dipsea is one of the most scenic and difficult.
What's special: Seven miles in Mount Tamalpais State Park, Muir Woods National Monument, and Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Where: From Stinson Beach to Mill Valley.
Contact: Visit San Francisco Bay Area Trail Runs for more information.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication