We run to stay in shape, challenge ourselves, clear our minds, and push ourselves to the next level and the next mile at our own pace. We run because we love it or we must. For many, one of the beautiful parts of running is getting outside and into nature whenever possible.
If you are a runner that adores trails and hills, or leisurely paths through vibrant woods, we have some of the most scenic summer running trails to put on your dream list!
Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
Eleven miles along the rugged Nā Pali Coast on the north shore of the island of Kauai, Hawaii, rests the Kalalau Trail. This trail runs through five stunningly lush valleys above towering cliffs and ends at Kalalau beach, where sheer, fluted pali block it.
The Kalalau Trail is considered one of the most beautiful routes to run in the United States. Running the trail can be a little rugged, made more so during the rains, which makes it slippery. The Kalalau Trail is for those who want a challenge. There are dangers such as loose dirt, humidity, soaring cliffs, and a chance of falling rocks; this journey tests you physically and mentally.
When you begin the Kalalau Trail and Ke'e Beach, you'll soon be swept away by the Pali Lookout, one of the trail's highest points, before it bottoms out at Hanakapi'a Beach and that is just a taste of the views to come.
The Hawaiian Islands are also one of the most gorgeous places to visit, with breathtaking vistas and a slew of activities and beaches; the only challenge is that everything happens at such a rapid pace you may not have time to do it all.
Discovery Trail, Washington
Southwest Washington is a versatile paradise for runners of all kinds, but for a beautiful adventure, we think if you haven't visited Discovery Trail, then you are missing out! With 8.5 miles of asphalt, except for one unpaved section, the trail runs parallel to the beach and is a runner's visual dream.
The best time to hit the asphalt is early morning, as it is quiet with gentle mist or rolling fog and gorgeous rolling grasses. Most of the trail winds around the natural dunes buffer the salty winds coming from the Pacific Ocean, and if you forgo your usual running playlist, you can enjoy the sounds of the ocean as you go.
The trail follows Captain William Clark's path as he ventures over the headlands and first sets foot on the continent's western edge in what is now known as the Long Beach Peninsula. For the running and history buff, there are excepts from the Corps of Discovery at markers along the trail, and a bronze sculpture of a life-sized windswept tree marks the north end. It is a replacement for the original tree that stood for 100 years with William Clark's initials and the date of his arrival carved upon it.
Wildwood Trail, Oregan
The Wildwood Trail is perfect if you dream of getting lost in a verdant array of greenery, frilly ferns, bushes, and gloriously tall trees that shade the path with dappled sunlight. Approximately 30 miles long, there is a lot to see, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington Park, a zoo in the forest sector, and the forest reserve, which has one of the most expansive species of bird and mammal life.
Much of the trail overlooks the Willamette River as it stretches through the northeast slopes of the Tualatin Mountains between Skyline Boulevard and St. Helen's Road. This is a quiet, serene trail for surrounding yourself in nature, and The Wildwood trail enters Forest Park proper when it crosses West Burnside Street at about Mile 3.
The trail also consists of excellent, good quality, hard-packed dirt for a smoother run than some not-as-used forest trails.
The Carriage Trails, Moses Cone Memorial Park, North Carolina
Twenty-five miles of wide, well-maintained gravel-strewn carriage roads wind through untouched forests with a backdrop of gentle, majestic mountains for a trail run you won't soon forget. Located in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, the twenty-five-mile trail is part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, part of the National Park Service.
Highland meadows, rolling mountains, and wildflowers await in the summer; in terms of elevation, it's comfortably gradual. These trails were the ones that inspired the founders of ZAP Endurance to establish their running camp here.
Pheonix Lake Loop, California
This trail is an accessible and beginner-friendly loop in the Mount Tamalpais Watershed, a lesser-known and lesser-visited park area by Mount Tamalpais State Park. However, we think that is a shame because it is a gem of a trail.
Gently rolling hills are packed tightly with reaching pines and gorgeous green leaves, while sunny days provide endless cotton-candy blue skies reflected on the lake's peaceful waters. In the distance, runners can enjoy the riveting vista of Marin and the San Francisco skyline, and if you want to be wowed, visit and run during the fall for a riot of color and wildlife. You may find the visuals stunning enough to find yourself distracted from running!
Mount Marathon Hiker's Loop, Alaska
A 4.1-mile loop trail near Seward, Alaska, provides an awe-inspiring view of deeply green-blue mountains with frosty snow-capped tips. Seward is famous for being the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, one of the most popular stops for significant cruise lines when visiting Alaska. However, the Mount Marathon Hiker's Loop is another jewel that doesn't see as much attention as it should.
It provides jaw-dropping mountain views, and you can enjoy a clear look over Resurrection Bay on a clear day. The loop earned its name thanks to a marathon held every July 4th.
This isn't a trail for the beginner or faint-hearted, however. It begins at sea level and climbs to 3022 feet in less than three miles! It's steep and a challenge but for a once-in-a-lifetime view? It is worth it!
What do you think? We hope you'll add these to your dream run-cation list and that you enjoyed discovering some of the most scenic summer running trails!