Incredible Running Routes Only a Local Would Know

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Incredible Running Routes Only a Local Would Know

We encourage you to live like a local with 15 different routes in cities across the country. Our friends at Greatist provided some insider tips, and we’ve added the exact routes – send directly to your phone through MapMyRun and get moving. Is your city missing? Leave us your favorite route in the Comments section below.

1.) Atlanta, Georgia

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Start: Enter the trail at the Irwin Street access point.

How to get there: You can bike or drive. A paid parking lot is available beside Park Tavern on Monroe Street, and street parking is also available.

What you’ll see: Wall art, sculptures, and plants and trees planted by Trees Atlanta. There are also several shops and restaurants along the way so that you can stop for a quick bite or grab some water. The trail also leads into Piedmont Park, one of Atlanta’s largest parks.

Where to refuel: Parish Food & Goods on North Highland Ave. or Paris on Ponce on Ponce De Leon Place.

Best time to tackle this route: Weekdays are less crowded. If you go on a weekend, be ready to share the path with runners, cyclists, and leisurely walkers.

2.) Austin, TX

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Start: Popular starting places include Auditorium Shores on West Riverside Drive, or under the MoPac/Loop 1 bridge. The trail runs through downtown and you can enter at multiple points.

How to get there: Walk, drive, or take the bus. Walk from downtown or park under the MoPac/Loop 1 bridge at Stafford Drive. You can also park around Austin High School or on nearby side streets. Auditorium Shores is serviced by bus route 10.

What you’ll see: There are great views all along the trail. You’ll see downtown Austin and many of the landmarks that make the city unique, as well as some areas that are shaded and have a somewhat secluded feeling. Highlights include: Stevie Ray Vaughn memorial, the interesting graffiti on the railroad bridge (the Pac-Man is my favorite), the pedestrian bridge, and Zilker Park. You’ll also run close to Barton Springs Pool, which is a natural spring fed pool that is 68 degrees year round. The trail is a great place to people-watch, as it’s a social hub for runners, cyclists, and walkers.

Both sides of the trail also cross under the Ann W. Richards Congress Ave. Bridge, where at dusk during the summer, you can see the largest colony of Mexican free-tail bats in North America. The newly opened boardwalk also makes for a fun experience, great views, and now ensures the entire loop can be done without getting on a road or having to cross the freeway.

Where to refuel: Shady Grove on Barton Springs Road or Austin Java Cafe on West 2nd Street.

Best time to tackle this route: After work on weekdays and weekend mornings can get crowded (especially on the western end), but you’ll always be able to find space.

Tips: There are several water fountains along the trail, and there are often water coolers put out by the local running groups. The trail is also close to great restaurants in the 2nd Street District on the north/downtown side, as well as along Barton Springs Road, which is close to Zilker Park and the MoPac bridge entrance. It’s a beautiful run with an eclectic mix of people and scenery!

3.) Boston, MA

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Start: The Hatch Shell is a good place to start. You can then loop around newly built parks.

How to get there: Drive (limited street parking will be available) or take the Red Line T to the Charles Street/Massachusetts General Hospital station. Also, depending on where you’re staying you can ask people to direct you to the Charles River Esplanade or the Hatch Shell, both of which are widely known destinations that most locals will be familiar with.

What you’ll see: The Charles River, with beautiful trees planted all along the route, and views of the Back Bay and Cambridge.

Where to refuel: Cambridge Street Whole Foods is great place to refuel (and get your parking validated!).

Best time to tackle this route: You can run it anytime; the path is pretty well lit and there are other people around more or less all day and night.

Tips: There may only be one fountain, so bring water with you. There is a public restroom along the way, and there will be occasionally bikers and kids and dogs with a playground along the route, so be cautious.

4.) Boulder, CO

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Start: Pick up the Walker Ranch Loop Trail at the trailhead near the Crescent Meadows Parking Lot.

How to get there: Driving is your best option unless you want to make it a really long training day and ride your bike or run from Boulder. Take Gross Dam Road to Crescent Meadows Parking Lot and look for signs to the Walker Ranch Loop Trail access route.

What you’ll see: This trail has it all: Steep uphill and downhill switchbacks, a rock staircase leading to South Boulder Creek, a rolling meadow that overlooks a historic homestead, mountain bikers, hikers, horses, and tons of wildlife. Just remember: For every tough uphill, there is an equally amazing downhill. This trail does not disappoint. No matter what speed you go, you’ll get an incredible workout.

Where to refuel: Boulder offers an incredible array of post-run food and drink. Try The Trident or Ozo (coffee), Turley’s or Walnut Cafe (pancakes), Illegal Pete’s (burritos), Larkburger or Rueben’s (burgers and fries), or Kim and Jake’s (gluten-free cakes and treats). I like them all!

Best time to tackle this route: This loop is great anytime, but I would avoid the midday heat if possible. It’s often shaded, but there are stretches that are wide open and even though it’s a little higher altitude than Boulder, it isn’t above tree line. In other words, it could get pretty hot out there. Weekends will be busier, especially since Flagstaff Road is open on the weekends, so if you want a more private run, aim for a weekday.

Tips: Bring water and whatever fuel or snacks you’ll want on the trail. There are very few water stations in Boulder and zero on the trails. Even though this is a somewhat well-known trail, it will not be highly populated because it’s off the beaten track. I suggest running with a buddy.

Either direction you go from the north side trailhead, you will start downhill. If you go right, you roll downhill for a while, and you end on a series of steep uphill switchbacks. If you go left, you fly down the steep switchbacks and you end with a long, winding uphill. Both are fun.

5.) Chicago, IL

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Start: Buckingham Fountain on South Columbus Drive.

How to get there: Drive, walk from a downtown hotel, or take the Brown Line “L” train to Harold Washington Library and head east towards Lake Michigan.

What you’ll see: Start on the path and run around the Shedd Aquarium, which is one of the city’s most beautiful views, and through the Field Museum. When you run around the Shedd and take a left, continue down to the Adler Planetarium, where you can pick up the Northerly Island path. That’s more of a nature trail to run and it is a whole loop if you head back to the fountain from there.

Where to refuel: The Bongo Room on S. Wabash Ave. Depending that time of year, there are usually vendors around the trail. The Museum Campus area will have stuff too.

Best time to tackle this route: Summer weekends are pretty nuts. In the winter you can basically hit the trail anytime.

Tips: Just be mindful—it’s a safe city but an urban environment. The area is well trafficked, with plenty of people around the Museum Campus. Ask for directions if you get lost; Chicago is one of the friendliest cities and this is a main highway for anything recreational and active.

You can check out 10 more cities over at

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