One of my favorite things to do when traveling is wake up early and go for a run. It can be a great way to explore a new place while logging in a few miles before your day begins. Over the years, I’ve scouted out a few of the best urban trails. Whether you’re a marathon runner or out to enjoy a morning job, these trails offer a sliver of nature amid the bustling city landscape.
Katy Trail, Dallas
While your main stop in Texas might be Austin, a layover in Dallas can still be fruitville. Check out the Katy Trail–a 3.5 mile concrete path carved in the middle of the city. This heavily used trail features two separate lanes–a wide, concrete avenue for bikers, and softer trail for runners. A good option for runners who blast their earbuds a little too loudly.
Forest Park, St. Louis
If you find yourself in St. Louis, you’ll be pleased to scout out Forest Park. This quiet, yet expansive park borders the city and hosts a multitude of diverse features. Shady tree-lined trails, a lush forest, a sweeping meadows, even marshy wetlands–distinguish this gem as St. Louis’s best kept secret. Plan ahead if you’re interested in exploring the park’s depth. Larger than Central Park, it took me the better half of a morning to check out the Forest Park’s entirety.
Lakefront Trail, Chicago
Visiting the windy city is not complete without a stroll down this riverside trail. On your run, you’ll find the famous Buckingham fountain, Soldier Field (home to the Chicago Cubs), and a great view of the city’s skyscrapers. A good choice for a spring or summer weekend when the weather is tolerable for outdoor excursions.
The Beltline Trail, Atlanta
A more recent project, the Beltline plans to connect more than 45 neighborhoods along its curving 30 mile urban trail. Utilizing an old railway track, the massive construction project will give outdoor enthusiasts access to more over 1,300 acres of park land. The park has currently completed 4 sections of the project and will continue to expand through 2030. Check out the map to see what areas are open and worth the exploration.
Berkeley Hills Trail System, California
San Francisco’s earthy neighbor–Berkeley–offers a stunning trail system that weaves amid the city’s elevated landscape. Start at near the bottom of Berkeley’s established neighborhood and begin the ascent upwards. Along your climb, you’ll stumble upon large rock boulders (fit to climb and watch the sunset) smatterings of pedestrian staircases, an unexpected rose garden–and numerous parks. Difficult to run but great for an evening stroll.