Southwest Trail Running Guide
Cedar Ridge PreserveDallas 1 of 9
If you find yourself in North Texas, head over the Cedar Ridge Preserve on the south side of Dallas. With 600 acres of natural habitat, the area features native wildlife, trees and wildflowers, plus nine miles of various-level trails for running or hiking. Managed by Audubon Dallas, the Preserve is well maintained and a great area to get away from the stresses of the city. Photo credit: Anna Palmer.
Colorado Bend State ParkBend, Texas 2 of 9
The ultimate reward for your trail run through Colorado Bend State Park is the breathtaking 60-foot Gorman Falls waterfall. With 32 miles of trails and more then 5,300 acres of park, there are plenty of opportunities to get your shoes dirty. The Texas Hill Country is famous for its lush scenery and refreshing waterways, and you'll get both on any trail in this park.
Mission Trails Regional ParkSan Diego, Calif. 3 of 9
With 60 miles of trails and nearly 6,800 acres of both natural and developed park area, the Mission Trails Regional Park has something for everyone. Some trails in the park are used for horseback riding, so it's recommend to stick to those marked only for running, hiking and biking. One such option is the San Diego River Crossing Trail, a moderately challenging 2.6-mile one-way route that, as the name suggests, crosses the San Diego River. High water levels in winter and spring may cause the crossing to become impassable, though, so plan accordingly. Photo credit: David Cooksy
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation AreaLas Vegas 4 of 9
Just 17 miles from the Las Vegas strip, this conservation area of nearly 200,000 acres provides endless options for trail running. For a moderate run, hit the White Rock/La Madre Springs Loop, a 6-mile round trip with a steep climb at the beginning and views of the Mojave Desert. For the little ones, try the Lost Creek Children's Discovery Trail. At 0.7 miles, this beginner-friendly trail can get crowded, but the kids will enjoy the waterfall and they may even see a desert tortoise.
Rim TrailGrand Canyon, Ariz. 5 of 9
While the main section of the Rim Trail can get crowded with tourists, there are more technical sections of the trail for serious hikers and runners. To escape the tourist-filled areas, hit up the Bright Angel Trail for a fairly steep run with a round trip of up to 12 miles. The flatter Widforss Trail offers an easier run, blending forest and canyon scenery throughout a 10-mile round trip.
Sandia Mountain TrailsAlbuquerque, N.M. 6 of 9
The Sandia Mountains have 30 different trails to choose from, ranking from easy to very difficult, giving trail runners of all abilities the opportunity to hit the dirt. For a moderately hard run, hit the Strip Mine Trail, a 6-mile round trip that passes by an abandoned strip mine, exposing picture-worthy deep red soil. There's little shade on this trail, so choose this option for a cooler time of year.
Sedona Hiking TrailSeonda, Ariz. 7 of 9
For some of the best mesa views in the country, check out the Brins Mesa Soldier Pass Loop, a 4.5-mile trail passing a sinkhole called Devil's Kitchen and two natural arches. The loop increases in elevation 600 feet and takes runners next to local landmarks such as Brins Mesa, The Sphinx and Soldier Pass.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife RefugeIndiahoma, Okla. 8 of 9
With nearly 60 acres of open range, 15 miles of trails and easy access to mountainsides, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is a favorite for trail runners, hikers and rock climbers. Trail runners will encounter a variety of terrain from grassy plains to lush forests to rocky mountainous passes. Take the Dog Run Hollow Trail System for a variety of distances through more unique areas of the refuge.