Down & Dirty: Trail Running In National Parks

Free entry to national parks is available during National Park Week.

Do you remember the first time you went trail running? What I consider my first “real” trail run happened at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park, bordering the Potomac River in Maryland. It’s been years, but I recall the trails being hard packed and full of rocks and roots, with scrambling sections (Billy Goat Trail) I was certain would be my undoing. But, focused on foot placement and exploring new routes, my ears filled with sounds from the river raging over the falls, I felt like Washington, DC, just a few miles downriver, was a world away. The challenge of rolling hills, joy in longer miles and beauty of changing seasons made me wonder why more people weren’t running on the trails. Needless to say, it changed my perspective forever.

Now is your chance to make some trail memories—for free! National Park Week is April 19-27, and the celebration begins with fee-free park entry days on April 19-20. With 400 national parks in the U.S., there are plenty of options. Click through the photos to see a few of the most compelling places to run. Go to the National Park Service site for park hours and trail accessibility information.

 

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