I’ve been lucky to travel a lot, either on my own or through my work as a writer. But every trips has shared a common theme: trail running. Which is why I’m pleased to present to you what I believe to be the world’s most beautiful places to trail run.
Running has been always been a part of my life and I don’t feel complete with out it. Running has allowed me many opportunities to explore remote places that I never would have been to otherwise, and meet people I never would have met otherwise.
Running has been the glue to many of my most valued relationships, and also helped me heal when one of those relationships was tragically lost. I’ve always found that there’s nothing like hopping on a plane and traveling to some new land to give you a new perspective on life, to help heal lingering wounds or break out of a stifling rut.
What are your favorite places to run? Leave a comment below and share your most treasured trail or destination, domestic or abroad!
1. Costa Brava, Catalonia, Spain
In 2011, I got a call from the editor of Trail Runner magazine asking me if I’d care for a last-minute assignment about running in Spain. Next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Barcelona.
I spent the next five days with Pablo Rodriguez of Running Costa Brava, who led us up the coastline, running from fishing village to fishing village along the Mediterranean. We spent our evening eating fresh-caught, local seafood, recovering in luxurious spas, visiting wineries and staying in charming bed-and-breakfasts.
Join us in Spain for the Costa Brava Running +Wellness Retreat with a group of lucky women through Run Wild Retreats.
2. Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia
While living in Sydney, Australia, in 2004, my boyfriend and I hopped the train and few hours later where in Katoomba. The Blue Mountains are more like a canyon, in that you descend down steep trails into the densely forested canyon bottom. The Blue Mountains truly appear to have a blue hue, thanks to a strange phenomenon that scatters the light in such a way as to create the bluish haze.
Running here was difficult for me, coming from the northern hemisphere. The humidity and heat wore me out quickly. But the views made it all worth it.
3. Moab, Utah
As a mountain girl, whenever I go to the desert I feel as though I’m on another planet. The desert’s vast, open spaces are surreal. Yet, I feel compelled to take a deep breath and marvel as the bare landscape. The rich textures and brilliant red rocks of Moab are so beautiful that I often risk tripping on the trail as I gaze out at the scenery all around.
Moab’s trail system has been growing rapidly, and makes it a fantastic plan to run and explore. In fact, the access and variety of trails is one of the reason it’s the location of our annual Moab Mindful Running Retreat, held twice annually.
4. South Island, New Zealand
I traveled to New Zealand in 2005 under unusual circumstances. I had recently suffered a great personal loss and felt that an epic overseas trip was the only way to heal my soul.
I hadn’t run in about eight months when my plan touched down in Christchurch. With my backpack and some trail maps, I headed out on my own to explore on foot the island’s most exemplary trails (or “tracks” as they call them): the Kepler Track (pictured here), Abel Tasman, where I swam with wild dolphins (amazing!) and paddled through the dreamy, misty fjords of Milford Sound. And it did the trick: I returned home four months later feeling fitter and happier than I had in a long time.
5. Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
I had the privilege of living and working in the Canadian Rockies for many years. The trail systems around Canmore and Banff are spectacular, and with a little effort it’s not hard to escape the tourist hoards and head into the back country.
My favorite trails in this area are too numerous to name, but let me just say that there’s no shortage of options for all types of adventures, from easy and scenic to high-elevation mountain runs. It will always be home. Pictured here is Moraine Lake, the world’s most photographed lake, located near Lake Louise in Banff National Park. A friend of mine has since written a book about trail running in this area, which you can grab here: http://mtnrunning.ca/
6. Northwest Territories, Canada
I bet you didn’t expect this one to be on the list, did you? While definitely not known as a trail-running mecca, there are incredible endurance races that take place in the NWT and Yukon, which was why I was there. I was covering a multi-day event for Trail Runner magazine that brought me to Yellowknife, the capitol of this Canadian territory. The soft tundra, which becomes soft and soggy in summer, is actually better for foot travel in winter.
So there I was, running across frozen lakes and rivers, camping in 40-below temperatures. But the most incredible part of the experience–apart from the wonderful, warm people who live there–were the northern lights, which danced across the sky most nights.
7. Four Pass Loop, Aspen, Colorado
Sometimes, the best “destinations” are those that are in your own back yard. Aspen’s famous Maroon Bells mountains are one of the resort town’s most visited spots. But we trail running rock up at 5 am to start what will likely be an 8- 12 hour day (depending on your fitness level) to complete the nearly 30-mile loop that goes over four mountain passes above 12,000 feet. The nice thing about having this trail in my backyard is the option to tag one pass, or do an out-and-back. However far you go, this run never disappoints and always dishes up a formidable challenge. Learn more about trail running around Aspen in this article I wrote for Aspen magazine.
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