Trail running is a vigorous hybrid of running and hiking. For some, this could mean the workout of their nightmares, but for others, trail running is the best of both worlds. Unsurprisingly, Utah is a hotbed for trail runners, and although the state’s trail running possibilities are nearly limitless, these are five of its best trail running spots.
The Bonneville Shoreline Trail extends all the way from Idaho to central Utah. Located along the foothills of the Wasatch Mountain Range, the trail covers 280 miles in total and features a variety of terrain. Minor inclines, steep inclines, and flat stretches of trail make the Bonneville Shoreline Trail an interesting and unpredictable workout. Of course, the near-constant view of the Salt Lake and Utah Valleys is another plus. If you find yourself in Salt Lake City, in Provo, in Santaquin—you’ll have access to great trail running on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
Located on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley, Mount Olympus gives its hikers access to spectacular views any time of year. Standing at 9,026 feet, the trail to the peak’s summit is a popular trail running destination because it gives explorers a real run for their money. Yes, although the trail is wide and easy to follow, it is very steep. Does this mean that the hike is only for the most elite of endurance athletes? Not necessarily. If you do decide to tackle the mountain’s seven-mile trail, don’t be afraid to take it slow. The views from the summit are worth every ounce of effort, though you definitely will feel like you just climbed up 4,000 feet (because you did).
If you want a challenging workout in the outdoors but want to avoid double digit mile marks, this trail is a beautiful hike with the perfect length for a vigorous trail run. Within an hour or two, you can run up and down a solid 6.5 miles of trail. Not convinced it will be difficult enough for you? Think again. The scenery is stunningly gorgeous but the trail is steep. And if you’re worried it will take longer than two hours for you and your fitness level, don’t worry. The trail makes it easy for you to enjoy taking your time. And even though the hike takes you to a lake, it is absolutely imperative that you bring plenty of water. If you have time to spare afterwards, consider heading over to Snowbird Resort and relaxing at its famous spa.
As appealing as a super strenuous hike may sound to some trail runners, other trail runners (most notably trail running novices) may be attracted to the thought of a shorter, more moderate trek. With beautiful wildflowers and slightly steep inclines, hiking Lake Mary Trail is a great warm-up for experienced trail runners, or a solid introduction into what it feels like to run on a trail rather than on a road for those who have never tried. Located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, the trail takes you to a serene, freshwater lake. After all is said and done, you may wish to run the trail a few times in a row just to get your fix.
Y Mountain is a peculiar sight. The mountain itself is powerful and intriguing, but hiking to the painted Y (standing for the “Young” in the city’s Brigham Young University) can feel like a collegiate rite of passage. The trail itself is fairly standard (it consists of steep switchbacks for a roundtrip length of 2.4 miles), but that’s part of what makes it so appealing to trail runners. The trail is predictable, consistently difficult (especially when running), easy to access (the trailhead is located just above Provo’s foothill neighborhoods), and provides a difficult workout in a short amount of time. It’s the perfect training trail that will allow you to better enjoy more scenic trail running locations.