Trail running is a popular hobby for numerous reasons. The fresh air, challenging inclines, rugged terrain, and opportunity to get outdoors into some of the most beautiful locations around the countryside add to trail running’s appeal.
With so much in favor of trail running, the predominant issue is how to find running trails near you?
There are multiple resources available for locating running trails near you. Many apps allow you to track your progress, plan your routes, and upload your results to a database. Joining a trail running club and contacting national parks are also great ways of finding nearby trails.
In the age of modern technology, we have access to more information than ever before. From apps to maps, finding running trails near you is as simple as opening up your smartphone.
Let’s investigate and explore the various tools that help you locate running trails.
- Using Apps To Find Running Trails
- Other Web-Based Tools And Apps For Trail Running
- Join A Trail Running Club
- Many National Parks And Nature Areas Have Running Trails
Finding Running Trails Near You
In our generation of connectivity, there is almost no way that you could not stumble onto a trail running directory. However, not all of the sources are trustworthy.
Some of the better methods of finding running trails near you include:
Using Apps To Find Running Trails
One of the positive things about smartphones is the range of apps available. From ordering food to calling for a lift, if you imagine it, there is probably an app for it.
Even trail running has a selection of useful apps. Most of these allow you to search for trails in a particular area. They provide a route breakdown and give you the distance, elevation, difficulty level, and user ratings and reviews.
Although the information in some apps is not always 100% accurate, several are reputable and worth using.
Some of the top-rated trail running Apps include:
Since its founding in 2010, AllTrails has become one of the most popular hiking and trail running apps. AllTrails offers a directory of trails across the globe, and they continue to add to their index.
AllTrails offers a free or paid service. The free service includes:
- The app creates a list of your favorite trails.
- You can log your activities on the app.
The $30/year paid version gives you access to these features plus:
- Downloading offline maps.
- Real-time overlays on Google maps.
- The option to print the maps.
- The app sends you notifications if you stray from the route.
This easy-to-use app features trail difficulty, route length, elevation, estimated time to complete, and user reviews and comments on the trail.
AllTrails recently introduced a feature, “Distance away,” allowing you to enter how far you’re willing to travel to a hiking trail/running route. The app then filters trails accordingly. You can filter according to distance, difficulty, duration, area, and user reviews.
The CalTOPO App features:
- Slope angle helps you determine safe routes while avoiding dangerous areas.
- Snow depth provides hourly updates on snow conditions.
- Daily satellite images allow you to track weather conditions moving in and out.
- The water gauge informs you of river depths and reservoirs in the area.
- Weather conditions provide you with current and future weather updates.
- Public land boundaries allow you to stay where you should be.
Another feature of CalTOPO is that multiple users can edit and update a map in real-time, making route planning easy. The app also works offline with GPS, so tracking in the backcountry is no issue.
This app is great for people who want to run in areas that are not necessarily part of official routes, with comprehensive tools to safely plan your way.
The paid version allows you to download and use maps offline. There are various payment options, including:
- Mobile $21/year
- Pro $50/year
- Desktop $100/year
Gaia GPS App
Gaia GPS offers trails by national parks or trails in each city in the US. Gaia GPS offers offline (downloadable) maps and active GPS tracking during your run.
Gaia GPS also offers a free or paid version.
Some of its free features include:
- You can plan your route for the day, which includes dropping waypoints.
- The app tracks and records your route using GPS. You’re then able to backup your route on the website.
- You can take photos.
- You can access various maps, including topographical, Native Land Territories, current wildfires, current, and future air quality, and smoke levels (current and over the next 24 to 48 hours).
The paid version ($40/year):
- You can download and use maps offline and out of cell reception.
- An overlay layer of private and public lands.
- Access to hunting maps of the US.
- The option to print maps.
MTB Project App
Although MTB Project is traditionally a mountain biking App/website, they have a selection of “mixed” trails(hiking, running, and cycling).
MTB Project displays trail information, including distance, duration, elevation (up and down), difficulty, and user rating. These also double as filters when searching for trails.
A prominent feature of the MTB Project’s webpage is that they list all available trails per state and country.
They offer a free app that tracks you as you use running trails. This app works offline, including the GPS locator (the app is specifically designed for use in the backcountry where the signal is a rarely seen phenomenon).
However, we recommend downloading your trail before heading out, as the app might not load the map correctly without a signal.
Your favorites are also saved to a list, and topographical maps are available. Although this app is geared for mountain biking, it has some trails that AllTrails lacks.
onX is a well-rounded app that caters to 4×4 enthusiasts, hunters, and hikers/trail runners.
One of the significant advantages of this app is that it locates unmarked/unidentified trails around you, and more importantly, it provides you with land owner information (federal, state, private).
The onX app offers a free and paid version.
The free version features:
- Satellite imagine
- Topographical maps
- Hybrid maps
- Tracking your route
The paid version includes:
- Off-road trails
- Trail descriptions
- Access to the point system
- You can download an unlimited number of offline maps
The paid version ($30/year for 1 state or $100/year for 50 states) provides detailed descriptions, pictures, and “guide” information on the various routes.
This app is also great for backcountry running/hiking, as the GPS works without cell reception on the offline maps. onX offers comprehensive map layers, weather information, and other benefits on subscription.
Other Web-Based Tools And Apps For Trail Running
Aside from designated trail running/hiking apps, other online resources allow you to track, plan, and manage your running routes. These include:
Google is like a one-stop-shop for many of our internet-based needs. Google Maps is an effective route-finding tool in a car, on a bicycle, or trail-running.
Although not specifically geared towards tracking and planning trail running routes, Google Maps has enough functionality that you can plan a route and track yourself as you run it.
Planning a running route on Google is relatively easy. The app has an international route planner tool that allows you to enter start and end points and add waypoints along the way.
Google is also a fantastic search engine for discovering running trails near you. Type in hiking trails, and you’ll be bombarded with routes in your area. You’ll probably need to contact the land owner once you find their details to ask for permission, pricing, etc.
Map My Run
Map My Run is an App designed to track your route. The benefit of this app is that routes are saved to the database, and all you need to do is view a trail run by someone previously.
Although this app is fantastic for monitoring your progress, it falls short in route planning. One limitation is that if the trail you’re looking for has not been mapped with the app, there will not be a route.
USA Track And Field
USA Track and Field (USATF) is another database containing over 20 000 running routes.
By searching around the various cities and zip codes, this database grants, you access to routes, descriptions, distances, etc.
USATF also has a “map my route” function, which allows you to upload your route details to the database.
There are also associations, upcoming tournaments/competitions, and other web resources.
Walk Jog Run
Walk Jog Run is another platform that allows you to plan, track, and share routes that you run. The database gives you a breakdown of the distance, time, elevation, calories burnt, and terrain type.
The website features some useful tools for editing, downloading, and printing routes.
This service is a database and not an official route directory, so some routes might not be legal for you to access (they go on private property).
Join A Trail Running Club
Trail running, like most other sports and exercise activities, is more fun with a group of like-minded people.
There are many advantages to joining a trail running interest group, including:
- Safety in numbers from crime and the elements. If you fall and injure yourself, if the weather takes a sudden turn and you’re stuck, or if a mugger is on a mountain, it is usually safer when you run with a group.
- You’ll be better motivated in a group. If you become fatigued, running with others helps to keep you motivated.
- Accountability when you don’t feel like running. Running in a group helps get you out of the house when you would otherwise not leave.
- Access to routes you might not have known existed. Others in the group might be more experienced and know routes, not on a trail app.
Most cities or states have running clubs. To join is as easy as enquiring at a gym, national park, or trail running competition.
You can also join one of the many running social networks to find like-minded runners near you.
Many National Parks And Nature Areas Have Running Trails
Most nature areas enjoy trail runners’ patronage (provided they stick to the routes). Their routes are usually well marked, and there’ll be ranger support in emergencies.
Call your local nature reserve to find out if they have running trails and what you’ll need to bring. They also usually have maps in case you get lost along the way.
The only downside is you’ll probably need to pay a conservation fee to get into the park. But once you’re in, you’ll have access to most of the park for a lovely day after the run.
How to Find Running Trails Near Me
Multiple resources are available to anyone looking for running trails in their area.
Many of these resources are online and offer GPS tracking. Some require an annual subscription to get the full benefits of the app, but most have a useful free version.
Other ways to find running trails nearby include joining a running club and visiting your local, national parks.