Mud and Muck 5K and One-Mile Mud DunkAug. 15, 2105, in Unity Village, Mo. 1 of 10
Part trail race, part mud run, the Mud and Muck race will suck you into trail running for good. With a large mud pit to cross and flat unpaved trails in a park setting, this fun run is perfect for all ages and ability levels. There's even a squirt gun battle zone where the kids (and kids at heart) can entertain themselves.
Maryland Trail Running FestivalAug. 16, 2015, in Germantown, Md. 2 of 10
The Maryland Trail Running Festival, with marathon, half marathon and five-mile options, combines trail running with family fun. Hit the serene Seneca Greenway and Schaeffer Trail systems, then enjoy family-friendly post-race activities, great food and prizes. There are even two distance options for the kiddos to join in on the fun. As the race website states: "No foam. No colors. No glow sticks. Just an outstanding all trail race." Enter "ACTIVETRAIL" to receive 20 percent off race registration.
Summer Blast at Redmond WatershedAug. 22, 2015, in Redmond, Wash. 3 of 10
This flat- to moderate-grade course takes runners through the Redmond Watershed Preserve, with trails lined by towering Douglas firs and bushy green ferns. The race series includes a five-mile, 10-mile, half marathon and marathon option, incorporating aid stations throughout the forest. This race also has one of the coolest race shirts we've seen in a while.
Connecticut Forest and Park Association Run for the WoodsSept. 19, 2015, in Burlington, Conn. 4 of 10
Tree huggers unite! This 5K and 10K race, put on by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, aims to raise funds to maintain and protect the forests and trails of the Constitution State. Race directors encourage runners to "leave behind the traffic lights and urban cacophony for the simple harmony of nature." Couldn't have said it better ourselves. (Photo credit: Rob Pierpont)
Louisville Trail Half, 10K and 5KOct. 11, 2015, in Louisville, Colo. 5 of 10
The Louisville Trail race's flat and fast course is "sure to be a PR-breaker," while the family-friendly atmosphere proves to be a great choice for trail rookies of all ages. As the largest race in the Endurance Race Series, this trail race also offers distances for every ability and post-race entertainment for runners and spectators alike.
Paul Mitchell XTERRA Gunstock Trails Half Marathon and 5KOct. 17, 2015, in Laie, Hawaii 6 of 10
Hang ten, dude. While organizers slate the half marathon distance of the Paul Mitchell XTERRA Gunstock Trails race as hilly and rather difficult, the 5K option is a great choice for beginners. The course offers scenic views of a real working ranch on the island of Oahu, where runners traverse over rolling hills and forest paths. Plus... it's in Hawaii.
Chasing Bigfoot 5K/10-Mile Trail RunNov. 13, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. 7 of 10
Do you believe? The Chasing Bigfoot trail run covers the same trail where Animal Planet's Tracking Bigfoot filmed an episode as they searched for the elusive beast in early 2015. The race is timed to occur mere hours after the episode airs live, so registered runners have the first chance to do some searching of their own.
Pacifica Foothills Trail RunJan. 16, 2016, in Pacifica, Calif. 8 of 10
The Pacifica Foothills Trail Run offers a 10K, half marathon and 30K, but we recommend the shortest distance option for those just starting out. This course takes runners through the San Pedro Valley Park in the Santa Cruz mountain range and offers views of Farallon Islands and Brooks Falls. With BBQ pits, picnic areas and open space for a number of activities, the park is perfect for family and friends to hang out during and after the race.
Post Oak ChallengeFeb. 27-28, 2016, in Tulsa, Okla. 9 of 10
Fair Warning: The Tulsa-based Post Oak Challenge is a bit hilly. But it's a great choice for those seeking a challenge. So why is it on a beginner trail run list? The Post Oak Challenge earned the "Best Overall Trail Race" title in 2014 from Oklahoma Sports & Fitness magazine, and the race is well known for its super fun and encouraging atmosphere. (Photo credit: Watt Design Photography)