By Alli Hill
Running has amazing physical benefits, but when you add trail running into the mix, your workouts become even more rewarding. Trail running ups your running game by injecting various terrain and challenges into every run, forcing you to get a little creative to keep your focus. As a result, you can expect to improve your surefootedness and balance while getting an effective workout surrounded by beautiful natural scenery. These five awesome trail running spots in Florida will forever change what you thought running could be!
Nestled in Wekiwa Springs State Park, this moderate to difficult trail is excellent for trail runners. At 10.2 miles, trail traffic is typically light, giving you free and clear access. Throughout your run you’ll be encircled by some of Florida’s best natural scenery, with wildlife sightings a very high possibility. The trail travels over a variety of terrain, everything from palm scrub to boardwalks to pine tree terrain.
This trail inside Shingle Creek is the perfect spot to glimpse the headwaters of the Everglades. Though short and sweet, this trail provides beautiful scenery and easy terrain for a refreshing run. Shingle Creek flows alongside the trail for the most part, which means you have a high chance of seeing some of Florida’s wildlife while you’re here. Best of all, the trail gives off a secluded, tucked-away feeling that can make your run as relaxing as it is energizing.
If you’ve ever wanted to travel through the Everglades, the Shark Valley Tram Road is your prime opportunity. In addition, the trail offers an excellent workout as you enjoy all the sights and sounds of the beautiful ecosystem here. The trail itself is easy enough, however, if you plan to enjoy the trail in its entirety, you should know you’re in for a good 15-mile trip. Along the first half of the loop, you’ll have ample opportunity to glimpse alligators and native birds as you’re rushing by. Many trail runners opt to turn around at the midway observation tower, as the second half of the loop isn’t nearly as scenic.
Easy and simple is the beauty of the two miles of trails at Jacksonville Arboretum. Here you’ll pass by some of the most beautiful sights in the arboretum and gardens, including a lake and wooded areas. Known to locals as one of the most beautiful places to hike in the area, the various terrain is also a perfect opportunity for trail running. Some sections of the trails remain flat, while one quarter-mile stretch features 25 feet of elevation changes. It’s not a difficult or long run, which makes this an attractive spot for beginner trail runners.
You’ll want to use caution on this trail, as runners have reported numerous sightings of Pygmy rattlesnakes. Despite the potential wildlife dangers, this trail makes an awesome opportunity for runners to experience the Estuarine Research Reservation. The 9.2-mile loop is divided into various sections, so you can make your run as lengthy as you can handle. The trail itself is relatively flat throughout, and it takes you along boardwalks over marshes, alongside waterfronts, and through some of the state’s most beautiful nature scenes. This is one trail you’ll want to visit again and again.