One of the reasons I fell in love with trail running was the opportunity to see places in a new way. I love running in any new city, but the trails provide that added layer of relaxation and a reminder to slow down and look around. Of course how to find running trails can be as much as work as the miles themselves.
As someone who LOVES to travel and now has the good fortune of living in Colorado with access to tons of trails, I’m sharing some tried and true tips help you find running trails wherever you go.
How to Find Running Trails
Unlike simply heading out the door and down the sidewalk, trail running requires more effort. There’s the extra gear because we don’t want to be without water or snacks, the driving to trailheads and well the work of the trail!
That being said, I use most of the techniques to find running routes when I travel whether paved or dirt.
Let’s make the locating trails part a lot easier:
- TrailRun Project App
- Facebook Trail Running Groups
- Local Running Stores
- Instagram hashtags
- How to use Google
Trail Run Project App
This has become one of my most recommended resources.
Not only will it help you find trails, but once you are on a trail the GPS feature will help you figure our if you are on course even when you aren’t getting a cell signal! To save it’s saved me a lot of headaches is an understatement.
- After downloading the app, then you’ll need to download an area (a state)
- That will then fill out all the mapped trails
- You can zoom in to different areas, search or filter types of trails
- Color coding gives you a quick overview of difficulty with yellow being dirt roads, green is the easiest, on up to black for the hardest
- After clicking on the name of a trail, you’ll be able to see the elevation profile, any tips other runners have left and a description of the trail (i.e. crushed gravel, paved path, super technical)
My husband has the Mountain Bike Project App and there is a Hiking Project App. Sometimes we’ll notice that trails appear on one of those apps that is not on mine, but is a perfectly suitable running route.
So if nothing great is coming up for you, it could be worth checking out those options as well. Different apps can show different things, but we really have found the Project series to be some of the easiest to use.
NOTE– Yes when I Google another site called All Trails pops up, but it drives me crazy wanting an account and I just prefer this app over that site by about a million.
Facebook Trail Running Groups
I know many folks are shying away from FB these days, but the groups there have saved me hours and hours of doing research on my own.
When you don’t have a running group in person, these people from all over the country provide a stellar resource!
- Search Trail Sisters — you’ll find a number of cities that pop up
- Trail and Ultra Running Ladies Only
- Trail and Ultra Running
- Colorado Trail Runners
- East Coast Trail and Ultra Runners
- Oregon Trail Runners
Those are just a few of the groups you can join to ask for ideas on local trails.
BONUS: One way my husband stays up to date on trail conditions when it’s been raining is to follow Park Rangers on Twitter! They are great about posting when the trails are closed or what the conditions might be from snow, rain, etc.
Local Running Stores
Most running stores are staffed by fellow runners and they love to help you find great routes because it’s part of what they enjoy as well.
In your hometown, it’s amazing to know your local store because they’re often hosting running groups, events and simply can be a great resource. DON’T BE AFRAID to just ask for their advice. We runners love telling you what we think, right?!
When traveling you have a few options:
- Look for local running stores before you travel and see if they have any weekly group runs
- Head in to the running store when you get to town and ask about local routes
- Checkout their social media presence, it’s often where they’ve posted recent runs or photos from customers out running
Have you seen the phrase “tag responsibly” on some posts? It’s because Instagram has indeed encouraged people to travel to places they never before considered.
It’s a portal to what’s possible and gets us excited.
Since you are someone who will travel responsibly, it’s time to take advantage of the millions of crowd sourced running routes to find running trails.
- Search hashtags like #runcolorado #runutah and then looking at photos you can click on the locations to see where they are
- Now you can head to Google and find out more about that specific trail
- I also have TONS of runners DM when they are heading towards Boulder asking about trails, so if you’ve followed someone a long time try asking for their advice
Example of a location tag on a run photo, which could then help you find a great spot!
How to Use Google
Wait stick with me, I know you can use the Internet! But there are different ways of searching that might get you closer to your goals.
- Search “State Name” State Parks or “State Name” National Parks – this is going to give you some of the more highly maintained trails, known parking lots and usually restrooms
- Search Trails Near “City” to again get some of the most popular recommendations and often a list of blogs that have written about different trails. I love to see photos and make sure I’m picking something interesting!
- Search for specific features you want to see, i.e. in Colorado there are two really big seasons where I’m searching “Colorado Wildflower Trails” or “Best Colorado Trails for Fall leaves”. But in Moab I was also searching waterfall trails, which lead us to an INCREDIBLE little adventure.
All right, now you’ve got all the how to find running trails tips and tricks we use when traveling.
I hope that it helps make your attempts a little smoother and your adventures all the better!
A few more trail running tips for you:
Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish
Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish