There aren’t many better escapes than trail running.
Every year, more people are limbering, lacing and running off into the wild with a collective sense of freedom. It’s all about that primal taste for spontaneous adventure. That brief window in time when you leave it all behind. Reality, civilisation — they can wait.
The world over, you’ll find dedicated runners with their own escape stories to tell, and it’s where you run that shapes those tales. So, we asked eight hardened trail blazers to name their favourite place to run and tell us what makes it so special…
THE CLEVELAND WAY, NORTH YORKSHIRE
The Cleveland Way is a national trail stretching 109 miles from Helmsley, sweeping through the North Yorkshire Moors and on to the coast in Filey. Rolling hills and stunning views make this a must visit for me. I love the challenging climbs and hair raising descents, but above all being around the moors and coast make it a really amazing place to be.
You can even race it in the Hardmoors 110.
THE CHUCKANUT MOUNTAINS, WASHINGTON
For a true rugged Pacific Northwest experience the Chuckanuts cover it all. Trails cut through tall, dense evergreen trees. The under story keeps you focused on the trail – cross country travel is not advised. Rocks and roots scattered throughout to keep you entertained and depending on the time of year you will find all varieties of mud!
The PNW is magical, but you have to experience it to really understand it.
CLIFFS OF MOHER, COUNTY CLARE
My favorite trail to run on is at the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. The whole path is not too long (about 8 miles depending on where you start). It makes you feel alive with the wind and muckiness and the thrill of running along the edge with jaw-dropping views of the Cliffs. I highly recommend it!
THE WASATCH RANGE, UTAH
I love trail running anywhere I can get some fresh air and a little dirt on my shoes.
Although, my favorite place to trail run is in my own backyard, the Wasatch Mountain range in Utah. The varied terrain, from rolling foothills to knife edge ridges and towering peaks, make it a veritable playground.
I had the privilege of living in North Wales for a few years. A place so abundant with trails you’d be forgiven for thinking it was carved from the Earth to provide a playground for runners.
However, my favourite trail of all though cuts a line through the middle of my native town. A 20 mile stretch of The Bridgewater Canal from Lymm to Manchester City Centre provides everything the urban trail runner could ask for. What it lacks in elevation (15ft) it makes up for in diversity, ranging from muddy paths through farmland to the arches and industry of Castlefield basin.
Other than the fact that Jonkershoek is in my backyard, the reason why it’s my favourite trail destination is the diversity of the trails and the epic-ness of the views! Whether you are a long bearded experienced mountain goat or a newbie road runner that saw the light, you will find a route in Jonkershoek that challenges you.
See you on the trails…
THE BRUCE PENINSULA, ONTARIO
If you have never heard of the Bruce Trail in Ontario (Just shy of 900K of trail in Southern Ontario) you have been living under a rock! Miles of Technical trail with climbs and descents alongside the beautiful blue waters of Georgian Bay. Truly the most beautiful trail in Ontario I have seen.
Being about to run through alpine meadows, over high passes above the clouds and have views that stretch far into the horizon is an experience you’ll remember for a lifetime and one that will keep calling you back for more. Trails can last for weeks, climbs for days, and a trail run downhill for hours. The Alps offer an adventure into the wild. Running in the Alps is like no other running you have ever experienced, the mountains are big, the paths exhilarating and the views spectacular and such, the sense of freedom and adventure of trail running in the Alps is unparalleled.
Southland, New Zealand
My favourite trail running destination is my next one.
There are too many amazing places to limit to one favourite, so I always look toward to the one we are planning. However, if I had to choose one magical place, the Southlands of New Zealand have some of the most beautiful and dramatic mountains I have ever seen.
GO, GO, GO
Next time you’re thinking about leaving your well-trodden home loop behind for a new escape, why not go and discover one of these running spots for yourself?
That’s the beauty of it. The life of a trail runner is limitless. When exploring this massive blue globe of ours, there’s always somewhere different to explore — including those places you’ve never heard of, but you wish you had!
Keep an eye out for more articles just like this, as we ask more runners to reveal their favourite playground. If you’d like to be featured in a future article, drop us a message here.