50 States, 50 Trails to Run

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

While the idea of the most scenic trail run in each state might be a bit subjective, every state from Montana (the Hyalite Creek Trail has 11 active waterfalls) to Wisconsin (featuring the ancient forest of the Ice Age Trail) offer a unique beauty.

Here are some trails that are not to miss if you get the chance.

RELATED: Destination America: The Ultimate Running Guide

Alabama: Oak Mountain Trails

The fast flowy trails of Oak Mountain’s singletrack offers something for every runner from rocks and roots to smooth and easy terrain. Choose from six trails covering 51 miles.

Alaska: Williwaw Valley Trail

Part of the Chugach State Park Hillside Trail System, the Williwaw Valley Trail is a 14 mile out-and-back run that illustrates the best of Alaska. Emerald-colored lakes, wandering moose and the peak of Mount Williwaw are visual to the eye as you climb 1,585 feet.

Arizona: White Tank Regional Mountain Park

With 25 miles of shared trails, runners can choose to huff and puff up the Ford Canyon and Goat Camp trails or take it easier on Ironwood and Waddell. Breathtaking panoramic views of the valley and mountainside are a treat to the eyes.

Arkansas: Sylamore Trail

This out-and-back trail is 23 miles one way following North Sylamore Creek and is accessible via three in district trailheads to make your run longer or shorter along this sometimes rocky terrain. Bears, copperheads, rattlesnakes and other dangerous wildlife frequent the area.

California: Backbone Trail

Running from Pacific Palisades to Point Mugu, the 68-mile Backbone Trail offers runners plenty of challenging terrain with ocean and island views. On a clear day, views of the valley can also be seen.

Colorado: Colorado Trail

No matter what section of the trail you hit running 483 miles from the outskirts of Denver all the way to Durango, you will be in for a visual delight. Mountain peaks from Elbert and Massive to open fields of wildflowers, abundant wildlife and old mining towns greet you along your journey.

Connecticut: White Memorial Conservation Center

The 35 miles of fairly flat trail at the White Memorial Conservation Center are an environmental wonderland. Visitors can observe wildflowers in spring and summer, the best of changing leaves and a paradise of birds. Be sure to warm up or cool down on the wooden boardwalk trail.

Delaware: Brandywine Creek State Park

Ranging from rocky to wide open terrain, trail goers will see walls created by masons in the early 1900s, wildflowers and the Brandywine River as they enjoy any or all of the four trails in Brandywine Creek State Park. All trails range from easy to moderate and are between 1.8 and 2.5 miles long.

Florida: Stephen Foster State Park Foster’s Hammock Loop Trail

Sing out loud the Stephen Foster song, “Old Folks at Home,” as you navigate the eight mile singletrack of the Foster’s Hammock Loop Trail. Swamp forest, limestone outcroppings and the Suwannee River Overlook are just some of the scenery along this trail.

Georgia: Pine Mountain Trail

Watch for the wild turkeys and deer as you navigate the 23 miles of singletrack (with additional surrounding trails to add mileage) on the Pine Mountain Trail. Expect water crossings, rocks and roots, climbs and flats amongst the pine trees and fauna as you follow the Pine Mountain ridge.

Hawaii: Kalalau Trail

Not for the timid, the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast in Kauai has been named one of the most dangerous but most beautiful in the world. This rugged and slippery 11-mile trail one way takes runners from Keʻe Beach to the Kalalau Valley with spectacular views. A permit is required after the first two miles.

Idaho: Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

Bordering the Montana state line, the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) offers views of Idaho’s Lemhi River Valley and Montana’s Big Hole Valley. The 270 miles of trails beginning on the edge of Yellowstone has beautiful color (especially in the fall) and a chance to see wildlife from bears to moose.

Illinois: Palos Forest Preserve

If you want wide track or singletrack, twisty and more technical, or smooth and obstacle-free, the trail system at the Palos Forest Preserve has it all. Ten trails ranging from one to five and half miles offer views of sloughs and lakes, trees and woodland creatures.

Indiana: Trail 9 Indiana Dunes State Park

At only 3.75 miles, Trail 9 doesn’t seem to be too difficult. The catch is that the trail is comprised entirely of sand offering tremendous views of the dunes and Lake Michigan while dipping into the forest and burning the quads.

Iowa: Wabash Trace Nature Trail

This Southwestern trail travels over bridges, through forests, past Iowa farmland and through eight towns including Council Bluffs and Shenandoah. The 68-mile converted rail trail is accessible in each town it passes through.

Kansas: Clinton Lake State Park

This park, just outside of Lawrence, has 23 miles of trails. Besides lake views, runners go through an oak and hickory forest, and can see wildlife like beavers, gray fox and bluebirds.

Kentucky: Land Between the Lakes Canal Loop

An 11-mile loop, runners can expect to see plenty of wildlife amongst the forest of trees while climbing the hills. Be prepared for creek crossings and an abundance of wildflowers in the spring and summer months. This trail offers the opportunity to connect to other trails adding up to an additional 11 miles to a route.

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