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youranut Jun 4, 19 5:42 pm

Give me some suggestions for running destinations
 
I am posting in this forum because I have lots of RR points.

I am trying to get back into running and will be taking weekend trips to places that offer great running trails/routes. My ideal find would be a city that has cheap airfare from STL, has some reasonable lodging options (airbnb, hostels, etc), and running options that have dirt surfaces and no stopping for traffic. I would consider Amtrak destinations as well. I am trying to avoid renting a car but I would break this rule for a fantastic destination. I'm not looking for pure wilderness like a remote trail in the mountains, but rather something like Central Park NYC or other great places to run in a town setting. Dirt trails would be a bonus. Feel free to suggest a great running destination even if it doesn't fit my cost criteria, it will give me something to dream about.

I'm not looking for organized races but would definitely consider them if the date lined up with a great airfare.

Edit: Thanks for all the fantastic responses!

Nirvana91 Jun 5, 19 8:52 am

As a fellow runner I sometimes find it difficult to find good places to run that ALSO have good public transit that can take you to the running spots. I actually find STL to be a pretty good option with Forest Park. Although pretty much everyone I know says taking STL public transit is crazy, I have done it plenty of times from the downtown to Central West End (or also stayed closer to there), and it's been totally fine. I've also driven there though, and that is of course much easier :-)

As you mentioned, NYC is a great option for Central Park. I'm biased but I also think the Chicago Lakefront Path is amazing, and pretty much accessible from any hotel that is near the downtown area. Portions of the trail are dirt/crushed rock instead of paved, depending on the route you take. You could also take Amtrak for that trip but I think it's ~6 hours and Amtrak seems to be constantly late. I have done this myself between CHI-STL a few times and it has worked out ok (thankfully on time), there are hotel options near the Amtrak station in both cities.

I'd also highly recommend Portland, OR. You can mostly get by without a car, and Forest Park has lots of hiking and/or trail running options. However, the majority of the REALLY amazing hikes or runs would indeed require a car.

Surprisingly, LA has a few good options, both Runyan Canyon and Griffith Park are accessible without a car (although Uber/Lyft might make it a bit easier). And depending on the routes you take you can definitely find dirt options instead of paved.

Most of those that are mentioned are large cities, if you want stuff that is off-the-radar you're probably going to need a car. Really though, if you have a car you can pretty much go ANYWHERE and find a good running trail within a 20 minute drive, with some pretty basic Google searches.

LegalTender Jun 5, 19 9:19 am

You can store your bike on Amtrak for $20. "Weekend trips" limits you to New Orleans, Chicago, KC or Memphis. But no rental cars or shuttles, and you can still run.

joshua362 Jun 5, 19 9:21 am

I was once a daily running fanatic who wouldn't skip 5 miles a day despite heavy travel and know how hard it can be to find uninterrupted ground in cities.

Off the top of my head, I've done laps around the Superdome (NO) & Georgia Dome (ATL) - both provided a bit of shade in 90+ degree summer heat.
In NO, you can run along the trolley routes (good tip from Runners World), mostly grass
Tampa, the long bridge to Clearwater (Rt 60) very near the airport, a cluster of hotels on Rocky Point
Tampa, the otherside, Bayshore Blvd, a long paved waterfront path, used to Rollerblade that one too
Portland, for sure, paths along the river and cross a bridge and another back

I'm sure I got creative in other areas, will edit when I recall

Tanic Jun 5, 19 9:38 am

SAN. Lots of shoreline just outside the terminal.

Lodging in summer is another issue...

tusphotog Jun 5, 19 2:43 pm

This will be a fun thread!

Here's part of my list. I do a mix of trail running and regular stuff.

San Diego: you've got a ton of options from beach to the (awesome) Bayfront path that takes you past the airport, to Balboa Park. Balboa Park has a bunch of trails in it and really you wouldn't know you were in a major city once you get deeper in to the park. Just ran five miles through the park last week.

Portland: Downtown has a plethora of runs along the river. I haven't run in Forest Park myself, but have friends who do 10, 20 or 50(!) miles up there in a day. They're crazy but claim to love it.

Boise: awesome paths around the river downtown and by Boise State. Some flood in the spring, which can make things challenging. Easy to get to from the airport. Great city too.

Minneapolis: downtown is great and you can easily hit five or six miles along the Mississippi. There's some off road stuff in Prospect Park around St Paul and the U but I haven't run them myself.

Dallas: There's lots of trail running around downtown Dallas. The Katy Trail is my favorite, but my coworker who lives there loves Cedar Ridge and Lake Lewis.

San Jose: the Guadalupe River trail is easily accessible from downtown San Jose. It goes on for quite some distance, but it's also inhabited by several homeless camps. They usually keep to themselves, but just be aware.

Tucson: my favorite spot for true trail running. You can go for miles and see nothing but critters. BE CAREFUL: if you're not familiar with the desert or the town, DO NOT go deep in the desert or you will get lost. Bring water, a phone with offline maps and watch for snakes. If you want desert running on a paved and trafficked path, Sabino Canyon is great. It's a seven mile round trip that gains about 500 feet from start to finish. There's also a long path along the usually dry "river" in town. Not particularly scenic compared to desert, but it's a great spot. Park at the Trader Joe's on Campbell & River and hit the path.

Phoenix: You can easily do 10+ miles along the canals, which are accessible from many of the airport hotels on 44th Street. Some canal trails are paved and some are a hard pack gravel/sand material. Don't run in July unless you're crazy or up at 4a.

Maui: Just run along the beach. I usually get a good mix of beach and road running when I'm there.

Exiled in Express Jun 5, 19 3:27 pm

MKE should be regularly cheap. Bus from airport drops downtown in front of the Hilton which has generally low weekend rates and is also a quarter mile from the Amtrak station. Can't comment on dirt trails but there is a paved path state park along the lakeshore that doesn't require transportation to reach.

MSP has wildlife refuge and a state park under the approach path, some dirt trails but likely to be flooded out for most of summer.

BWI plus MARC should yield some interesting options but I can't confirm any.

pinniped Jun 7, 19 1:21 pm

Surprised no one has mentioned the Ozarks yet - tons of trail races in that part of the country but just tons of trails in general if you want to solo run.

For city running, I love Portland and Seattle because they're runnable 365 days a year. Lots of surface choices in and around both downtowns.

MSP is great too - both running their marathon in October as well as running all over town on your own. I've never done real trail running there - always a groomed or paved surface, but lots of dedicated running/biking miles available.

Kansas City has a pretty active trail scene at the various parks around town. You'd need a car to get to all of it, but from STL you'd probably just drive anyway. Several of the parks have very tough shiggy trails in addition to more tame surfaces. (KC is hillier than people think!)

Katy Trail in central Missouri - Boonville/Rocheport/Columbia/etc. Hardly "trail" running - its primary audience is bike traffic - but could be a fun 1-2 night getaway with some wineries and trailside restaurants to pair with the running. You can rent a bike if you want to mix it up a bit.

Washington DC has a lot of urban running options - would be a nice spring or fall trip, short flight from STL, and easy metro access from DCA. Lots of miles of trails accessible right in and near the parts of DC where you'd likely stay, or a short metro ride away. You could run the Mall and monuments in the early morning and then head up/down the Potomac on more less trafficked trails anytime. Also the Woodley Park / National Zoo / Rock Creek area. Avoid in the summer and definitely *don't* rent a car!

tusphotog Jun 7, 19 4:49 pm


Originally Posted by pinniped (Post 31180604)
For city running, I love Portland and Seattle because they're runnable 365 days a year. Lots of surface choices in and around both downtowns.

You must be one of those hearty souls I see running during a storm in December in Portland that makes me say to myself "I'm glad there's a gym near my office."

:D

pinniped Jun 10, 19 9:03 am


Originally Posted by tusphotog (Post 31181182)
You must be one of those hearty souls I see running during a storm in December in Portland that makes me say to myself "I'm glad there's a gym near my office."

:D

I haven't run in a full-on thunderstorm, but in my trips out there (and Seattle) I honestly haven't run into that too much. It's sometimes a nasty chilly rain but I have gear for that. :)

I look at it this way: if I'm getting on a plane at MCI where it's 10 degrees and there's ice on the ground, I'm thrilled to go run in dark drizzly 40 degree weather!

mike_la_jolla Jun 12, 19 6:25 pm

Lurking, but had to add my favorites:

- All-time favorite is Victoria Peak in HK. That, however, is a little silly in the LUV thread. I'll start at the FS or Upper House and go all the way to the top. Always hot/humid and beyond category steep. I'm gasping and completely incoherent by the time I get to the top. A perfect run, but an 1,800ft hill from sea level .... that tends to get your attention. Perfect to determine you max HR

- I really like the horse trails outside of Palo Alto on Sand Hill Lane. This would be out of SJC and you would need a rental car. Great if you're stuck in Silicon Valley.

- Also silly in the LUV thread: Catalina Island. You need a boat to get to this place from Long Beach. No such thing as a bad run on Catalina, but everything is up. The marathon is considered an ultra due to the elevation gain/loss.

Of course, there is always going up the hotel stairs and then taking the elevator down. Repeat ad nauseam. This can be awkward -- gasping for air and sweating in the elevator can elicit stares. But in smoggy cities, it can be the only choice short of the treadmill.

NextTrip Jun 13, 19 12:30 am

All sorts of great runs in Griffith Park (Los Angeles). Some with fantastic views of Downtown LA. Fly into Burbank Airport (just named best US airport by Fodor's Travel!) and Uber/Lyft about 6-8 miles to Griffith Park.

etna9726b Jun 13, 19 3:15 am

Austin, Tx has great trails along lake travis and the river. Good airport and city transit. Good food and music. Avoid weekends when big events are going on.

pinniped Jun 13, 19 9:10 am


Originally Posted by mike_la_jolla (Post 31197024)
- All-time favorite is Victoria Peak in HK. That, however, is a little silly in the LUV thread. I'll start at the FS or Upper House and go all the way to the top. Always hot/humid and beyond category steep. I'm gasping and completely incoherent by the time I get to the top. A perfect run, but an 1,800ft hill from sea level .... that tends to get your attention. Perfect to determine you max HR

Two questions: (1) is there a good running trail that takes you up to Victoria Peak? Or did you just run regular streets to get up there? I've only ridden that funicular to get up there and didn't pay attention to how you'd do it otherwise. (2) Did you ever go out and run or hike Lantau? We took the cable car out to the big Buddha one day and saw some hikers below us. Looked like you could just spend a day out there getting lost on trails in that park.


Also silly in the LUV thread: Catalina Island.
Actually, these days WN is probably my most-preferred carrier to get to SoCal. AS is the only other one I'd consider. So Catalina is definitely not a silly suggestion and is an awesome place to spend the day! (Fliers on any airline will of course need the ferry. :))

Continuing on the SoCal angle, you could do a pretty long unimpeded run on the boardwalk (plus a few residential streets) from at least Huntington down to Newport and Balboa. I've both run it and taken the whole family on a leisurely bike ride. There are probably ways to go even further north and south of those points, but you could make yourself a 20-miler round trip just in this area.

SoCal is of course usually done with a rental car, but I know there is at least one north-south Amtrak line that could get you closer to your end destination and maybe some better LA transit if you're just going as far as Long Beach. (My experience with LA transit is almost nil - rode it from downtown to a Rams game once.)

mike_la_jolla Jun 13, 19 4:58 pm


Originally Posted by pinniped (Post 31198894)
Two questions: (1) is there a good running trail that takes you up to Victoria Peak? Or did you just run regular streets to get up there? I've only ridden that funicular to get up there and didn't pay attention to how you'd do it otherwise. (2) Did you ever go out and run or hike Lantau? We took the cable car out to the big Buddha one day and saw some hikers below us. Looked like you could just spend a day out there getting lost on trails in that park.

(1) I use city streets until the trail, which starts at Old Peak Rd and Tregunter Path. At the tram, run up Mount Austin Road to the peak. Bring some money -- there is a vendor at the top that sells cooled Gatorade/water et al.
(2) Not been to Lantau. My trips to HK are interim stops on the way to/from India, so I don't have much time.

Actually, these days WN is probably my most-preferred carrier to get to SoCal. AS is the only other one I'd consider. So Catalina is definitely not a silly suggestion and is an awesome place to spend the day! (Fliers on any airline will, of course, need the ferry. :))
Catalina is hard to get to but *thoroughly* worth the effort, especially for a runner. There is a great 10-mile loop starting in Avalon that I think I can recreate.

There is some family running history that includes Catalina: I went to UCI, as Stanford and Cal were too close to home. My parents live in the bay area. They stopped at Catalina on the way to Irvine on the same weekend as the Catalina Marathon. Watching the runners literally crawl across the finish line weirdly motivated my dad to become a runner. I was uncomfortable having a parent in better shape than me, so I took up running.


Continuing on the SoCal angle, you could do a pretty long unimpeded run on the boardwalk (plus a few residential streets) from at least Huntington down to Newport and Balboa. I've both run it and taken the whole family on a leisurely bike ride. There are probably ways to go even further north and south of those points, but you could make yourself a 20-miler round trip just in this area.
The boardwalk at Newport is an interesting suggestion. I did that *many* times and it would be easy to get to from SNA. The boardwalk starts at 36th and ends at E Street. At E, I'd cut in and go all the way to the Wedge. I lived in the 'war zone' in Newport for many years - Seashore from 32nd to about 52nd. I liked to run Back Bay also. Is that still open? You could do Back Bay literally from SNA. (Note to OP: we'll clarify/map these runs after we decide whether or not they are reasonable.)

Giffith Park in LA would be good (via Burbank). Maybe Golden Gate Park in SF also?


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