- Austin, Texas
A city with an active and growing athletic population, Austin provides numerous outdoor recreational areas that offer several running and walking paths for city dwellers and visitors alike. Often ranked among the best running cities in the country, Austin’s abundance of trails provide a mix of popular choices and hidden gems.
Beginners may enjoy the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail surrounding Auditorium Shores, especially the 3.2-mile loop that extends from South First Bridge to the Mopac Bridge. For more experienced runners, the trail also features 7 to 10-mile loops. In the center of the city, check out The Barton Creek Greenbelt, Austin’s largest greenspace. Starting at Zilker Park, the trail passes through dense undergrowth, many waterfalls and limestone cliffs. The trail is often full of mountain bikers and some parts have rough terrain, but it becomes more accessible alongside Barton Creek. It’s considered one of the best trails in the state.
Among the city’s more hidden trails, The McKinney Falls State Park offers a picturesque landscape that boasts running trails, waterfalls, and “Old Baldy,” one of the oldest bald cypress trees on public land. These trails, including the Onion Creek Hike, Bike Trail and the Homestead Trail, offer miles of terrain and several hundred feet in elevation. The entrance fee costs $6, but it’s worth it since it’s one of Austin’s best trails.
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
A great city for running, Pittsburgh is known for the variety in its running trails. It offers running paths along three rivers, numerous parks and trails and mountain views. The running and hiking trail along the top of Mount Washington (1,123 ft.) overlooks the city is not to be missed.
Among the numerous trails, The Heritage Trail is located downtown and features several loop options for running. Downtown offers Schenley Park and Frick Park with other runnable neighborhoods connecting to these areas. Challenging hills and running paths provide accessible options for physical activity. Since there are plenty of uphill paths in Pittsburgh, make sure to stay hydrated! Look for endurance-based runs on the south side of the Monongahela River if you want some more training options.
- Dallas, Texas
The Dallas-Forth Worth area is the fourth-largest metropolitan region in the United States. Covering such a large area, Dallas ensures a runner’s paradise. A guide to the area is often divided into three parts: Central (including downtown), the Suburbs, and Fort Worth. As a large city that is maneuvered mainly by car, running in Dallas requires some tips on finding the best spots. In downtown Dallas, the popular Katy Trail is an excellent option for those who want to go through the city. Turtle Creek and Highland Park neighborhoods also feature some peaceful trails. For off-road options, choose the Santa Fe Trail on the east side of town, while the Trinity Skyline offers a series of off-trail opportunities that lie below the dry riverbed. However, the best spot for running lies just to the northeast of town in White Rock Lake, which has a 9.33-mile hike and bike trail through scenic fields, forests and other nature preserves, making it one of the most heavily used areas in the Dallas park system. Dallas weather becomes scorching during May through September and can peak past 100F.
- Tampa, Florida
Tampa is known for its warm weather and scenic waterfront views. The running culture in this area is enthusiastic and diverse. There are plenty of running options in the urban setting alongside Tampa Bay and the area’s local beaches. Bayshore Linear Park Trail boasts 4.5 miles of landscaped trails along the water. Further downtown, there are numerous parks for running. Neighboring St. Petersburg also offers running trails for many Tampa residents, including North Bay trail that goes to Snell Isle, where runners love to cruise along the beach. The weather in the area is usually pleasant, especially in June through September. However, make sure to wear your summer gear and avoid those daily thunderstorms.
- Charlotte, North Carolina
One of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, Charlotte is a widespread city, so a car will help runners access the network of trails that decorate the area. A beautiful system of gateway trails constantly grows and provides miles of options for recreational activities and fitness. Compared to many other cities, Charlotte offers historical sites with stunning architecture in residential neighborhoods during your local run. A well-planned trail next to the trolley system and a handful of fantastic trail running options. In this city, locals say that “Beer is the post-run recovery beverage.” As a result, there are many brewery group runs scheduled for nearly every day of the week. The group spirit is part of what makes this city such a desirable and fun place to become a member of the active running community!