By Alli Hill
If you think your running workouts in Alabama are limited to roads and pavement, you owe it to yourself to experience the joys of trail running. Given the unpredictable terrain, you might not beat your best time, but you’ll find the benefits of trail running far outweigh any downsides. For one, the softer terrain is much kinder on your body than asphalt, which means less risk of injury so you can keep your running game strong. In addition, trail running provides a welcome mental break that can help you focus on your workout—or nothing at all—for an experience that’s as therapeutic as it is healthy. If you’re looking to take your running skills to the next level, check out these five awesome trail running spots in Alabama and never suffer from a boring run again.
If you’re a seasoned trail runner, the Walls of Jericho trail provides plenty of challenge to push your skills even further. This six-mile out-and-back trail leads directly to a beautiful rocky gorge and waterfall, but beware the trail can be slippery once you get closer to the falls. It’s mostly a downhill run from the trailhead, which means you’ll be trekking uphill on the way out. Of course, this also means you’ll end your workout on a high note.
This loop trail in Monte Sano State Park is just long enough for an energizing run. If you’ve never been to Monte Sano State Park, this trail features some of the best views in the area. Rated as moderate, you’ll have a few terrain obstacles to keep you on your toes. If you’re strictly here for running, you’ll want to revisit the trail to explore the caves or test your rock climbing skills.
This 2.5-mile trail is recommended for more advanced trekkers. The start of the hike is not so difficult, but as you proceed on the route, things get tricky. So be prepared. Located in the Monte Sano Preserve, this is a great place for not only trail running but biking, environmental education, bird watching, and a relaxing picnic.
Other than a few twists and turns, this adventure is relatively simple. In fact, there are several alternative routes that can extend your run up to 12 miles. Though mostly flat, you’ll find a few small hills for a little variation to your run. Many runners use the trail to train for marathons or other races because it’s peaceful, quiet, and not too heavily trafficked. You’ll also enjoy river views along parts of the trail, plus the fall foliage here makes for a beautiful run.
The Moss Rock Preserve has plenty of great routes for trail running. You’ll get the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, but civilization is just beyond the tree line. Trails take you past waterfalls, beautiful rock facings, and offer an overall scenic experience. If you’re looking for a good run on this trail, it may be best to avoid the weekends—when it is most heavily trafficked.