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Great Trail Running Destinations in the U.S.

These running trails are worth the trip


Updated August 17, 2012

Boredom is one of the reasons some runners make the switch from the roads to trails, so it's no surprise that trail runners are always in search of new routes. Whether you prefer mountain paths, urban running trails or backcountry treks, there are thousands of trail running options all over the country to satisfy your urge to explore the great outdoors. Here are a few of my favorites:

Finger Lakes Trail, Ithaca, New York

With its 800 miles of trails, the Finger Lakes Trail in upstate New York offers endless possibilities. The region's network of gorges creates some hilly and challenging -- yet breathtaking -- courses, and the cosmopolitan college town of Ithaca is the perfect homebase to explore the trails as well as the dozens of wineries in the area.

Gear and Info: You can order maps and guidebooks from The Finger Lakes Trail Conference , or pick them up at area running and outdoor stores, such as the Finger Lakes Running Company . Check out the Finger Lakes Runners Club's site to get reliable trail information and find running partners.

Rest and refuel: Ithaca and its surrounding communities offer lodgings that range from countryside B&Bs to motels to downtown high-rise hotels. For some post-run pampering, try LaTourelle Resort and Spa . Trailside B&Bs include the Red House Country Inn or Noble House Farm .

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Whether you like relaxing jaunts on flat terrain or challenging, hilly treks, Sante Fe has plenty of varied trails and a lively running scene. The Atalaya and Aspen Vista Trails are popular high mountain trails with spectacular views. Or, try the Lamy Rail Trail, a dirt path that follows the scenic Santa Fe Southern Railway.

Gear and Info: The staff at the Running Hub , a local specialty running shop, can give you info on the best trails in town. You can also get running route recommendations from the Santa Fe Striders , or join the club for a group run.

Rest and Refuel: For some intense post-run pampering, stay at El Dorado . A less expensive option is the Inn at Santa Fe . Grab some classic southwestern fare at the Santa Fe Baking Company . Or, head to The Railyard Restaurant and Saloon for a fun atmosphere and satisfying post-run meals.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of trail running but its location -- nestled between Lookout and Signal Mountains at the Tennessee River Gorge -- gives runners easy access to hundreds of miles of incredibly scenic trails.

Gear and Info: Rock Creek Outfitters is basecamp for the local outdoor community. Trailblazers Adventure Racing Club hosts weekly trail runs.

Rest and Refuel: For local microbrews and mouthwatering burgers, hit the Big River Grille and Brewing Works. Lodging alternatives are as diverse as the trails, with accommodations to suit every preference and budget. Best bets offering local flavor include: Chattanooga Choo-Choo Holiday Inn and the Stonefort Inn .

Lake Tahoe, Nevada and California

Lake Tahoe is nothing short of a trail runner's paradise. Don't miss the area's 150-mile Tahoe Rim Trail, which runs along the ridge-tops of the Lake Tahoe Basin, providing spectacular views. And be sure to plan at least one run through Lake Tahoe's Desolation Wilderness and take in some of the 63,960 acres of forest, granite peaks, and glacially formed valleys and lakes.

Gear and Info: Check out the Tahoe Mountain Milers Running Club 's site for trail recommendations and directions, or join them for one of their runs.

Rest and refuel: Lodging options run the gamut, from campgrounds to bed and breakfasts to five-star hotels. If you're looking for some nightlife, the Tahoe Biltmore in North Lake Tahoe offers casino action, exciting entertainment, affordable room rates as well as breathtaking scenery.

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