6 Best Urban Running Trails


Philadelphia's Schuylkill River Trail: Photo Credit: Jenny Willden

Traveling for work doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your fitness routine. Instead of logging more miles on the treadmill, venture outside for a run on these scenic trails located within the limits of these six cities.

The High Line in New York City

The creation of this public space (just a few blocks from EVEN Hotel New York Times Square South) saved a historic elevated railroad line on Manhattan’s West Side from being demolished in the 1980s. It has since become one of the city’s most popular (and crowded) tourist attractions, leaving many to wonder how you could run here. The secret: Arrive early. New York is a late-night town, but the High Line opens at 7 a.m. and is nearly always quiet at that hour. You’ll have the art displays, Hudson River views and city skyline almost all to yourself as you run 1.45 miles one-way (about 5K round-trip) nearly 30 feet above the fray.

Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia

This award-winning trail spans 26.5 miles, traveling along the Schuylkill River and past city landmarks before ending in the town of Phoenixville. But the standout section is also the newest one — Schuylkill Banks — a 2,000-foot-long boardwalk for bikers, runners, and walkers offering stunning skyline views as you race on top of the water. Channel your inner fictional boxing champion and continue past the boardwalk to the famous Philadelphia Art Museum, run the iconic “Rocky Steps” and snap a selfie with a bronze replica of the Italian Stallion himself.

Riverfront Trail in Omaha, Neb.

The 3,000-foot-long Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge connects two states — Iowa and Nebraska – and links runners and cyclists to the Iowa Riverfront Trail, allowing you to marvel at Omaha‘s skyline and views of the Missouri River during the same outing. Stop and catch your breath at the plaza on the Nebraska side, where live music and interactive water features make it a gathering place for locals and a great spot for stretching.

Lakefront Trail in Chicago

Showcasing Chicago’s skyline as it winds 18 miles along the shores of Lake Michigan, this popular trail passes wildlife sanctuaries, parks, museums and boat harbors. Get there early in the morning to avoid the crowds, especially near Navy Pier. Restrooms, drinking fountains, benches and beaches for lounging are located along the route, so you’ll have plenty of amenities if you make it a longer jaunt.

Forest Park in Portland, Ore.

Just 10 minutes from downtown, this moss-encased wilderness is the nation’s largest urban forest. With over 70 miles of dirt trails set amid lush greenery and abundant wildlife, running here feels like an escape into the wilderness. But taking the well-marked Wildwood Trail leads you back near the city in time for your meeting — or one of Portland’s signature brunches.

Napa River Trail in Napa, Calif.

One way earn your happy hour when in wine country is by running this trail in revitalized downtown Napa. It begins at the bend in the Napa River called the Oxbow, behind the city’s Oxbow Public Market, and parallels the tidal river. You’ll pass the Oxbow Preserve wetland habitat and riverside hotels, and continue along the shady path for up to three miles. One day, this section will be part of the 47-mile Vine Trail planned to connect neighboring wine hot spots across the Napa Valley.

Doesn’t that sound like great motivation for a long walk?

About the Author

jenny-willden-croppedJenny Willden is a travel and outdoor adventure writer for Outdoor Sports GuideGore-Tex Experience MoreBusiness ConnectRaceCenter Northwest24 Salt Lake, and Living On the Cheap. When not horseback riding or snowboarding in Utah's mountains, you'll find her traveling in search of unique festivals, half marathons and daring outdoor experiences.