7 amazing urban trail runs for fall

While metropolitan life certainly has its benefits, there’s no question that escaping into nature improves overall health and wellness. It’s not always easy to enjoy the changing colors that autumn brings, especially considering most cities are complete concrete jungles.

For trail runners, the quest to find the perfect spot often seems endless. But, thankfully, it’s totally possible to carve out your own little slice of heaven if you look hard enough.

Whether you’re an East Coaster or dwell in the Dirty South, there’s a great urban trail run waiting for you to conquer this autumn. You’ll find these outstanding spots either within city limits or in close proximity, so they’re perfect for decompressing after a long work week.

Los Angeles, California

Ahhh ... La la land. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ahhh … La la land. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Finding fresh air is a priority for Los Angeles trail runners, which is why Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is an ideal escape, especially in autumn. There isn’t a bad trail to choose from, but the Sea Dahlia Trail actually takes you down to the water’s edge where you can discover several tide pools.

And, if you get creative, you can connect to Portuguese Bend, Filiorum and Three Sisters Reserves for even more miles of trails.

New York, New York

Rethink your trip to New York. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Rethink your trip to New York. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Located on the Hudson River north of the city, Bear Mountain State Park has everything you need for an ideal trail run, including dense forest and challenging elevation gain. Come autumn, the trees light up in yellows and oranges, making the park especially perfect for a trail outing.

The Timp Torne Trail is the longest in the park at 6.5 miles, but it connects at multiple points with other trails throughout the 235-mile network.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago isn't always windy. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Chicago isn’t always windy. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

While it’s more developed than classic singletrack, the main trail at Waterfall Glen County Forest Preserve is a true retreat from urban Chicago. The main trail circumnavigates the Argonne National Laboratory, flowing through lush forest that illuminates every fall.

While it might be too cold to take a dip in November, you’ll pass a swim-worthy waterfall on the 9.5-mile trail.

Denver, Colorado

Denver is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Denver is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It’s clear to everyone that Denver has some pretty excellent trails, but running North Table Loop in Golden is an absolute must.

The 7.5-mile trail navigates through high-desert features on top of North Table Mountain (technically a mesa), providing unbelievable views of the flaming aspens each autumn.

Atlanta, Georgia

Yep. Atlanta has it all. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Yep. Atlanta has it all. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Drive north from Atlanta’s urban sprawl and take advantage of the vast trail system and seasonal colors at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. With over 9,700 acres to explore, the trails seem endless.

For a long and particularly scenic route, test out Cochran Shoals Trail, which connects to Sope Creek. The combination creates 8.5 miles of refreshing autumn goodness.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle is just an all around gorgeous place. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Seattle is just an all-around gorgeous place. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Emerald City’s trail running scene is massive, which means there are hundreds of great tracks to choose from. A serious contender for best choice is Chuckanut Ridge Trail because of its complex terrain and epic views of Mt. Baker (on clear days).

While the trail is only 2.5 miles one way, the continual height fluctuation makes it a tough workout for anyone. You won’t mind the seriously breathtaking autumn hues, either.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pick your trail in Philly. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Pick your trail in Philly. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Long-distance trail runners love Philly’s Forbidden Drive for its 7 miles of shaded bliss. The out-and-back trail follows the Wissahickon Creek the entire way, creating a perfect retreat after a long and hot summer in the city.

For an even longer route, connect Forbidden Drive to the Yellow and Orange trails at several different points along the way.

Words: Mandy Burkholder

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