By Penny Fox
If you like trails and the idea of running down a mountain trail or along the path through a public city park, then trail running may be an enjoyable pastime. Many trails set apart for running are free from vehicle traffic, providing more safety and optimizing the benefits of improving overall technique for trail runners. Below are 5 of the most awesome trail running spots in Washington State that will take your past scenic overlooks, by reflective lakes, and give you a variety of terrain that will help you develop your strides as you run uphill, downhill, and over and around obstacles.
If you’re new to trail running, Rattlesnake Ledge Trail near North Bend is a good first run. Considered moderate for hiking or running, the only drawback is that parts of the trail can be narrow and this is a popular spot in the summer months. There are several points along the trail where you can see across to nearby mountains and the view is worth the run. There’s also a lake on this four-mile trail that provides a gorgeous panoramic scene. Dogs are allowed to run with you, provided they’re on a leash.
There are five trails in Point Defiance Park, located in Tacoma, Washington. The trails are used for walking, hiking, and running, but no bikes are permitted. With primary and secondary trails, lengths range from 1.3 miles to almost five miles, and some are closed to vehicles to allow greater safety. Because the trails are part of the Tacoma Nature Preserve, the American Trail Running Association provides guidelines that should be followed when running, such as staying on the marked trails, run single file, announce your approach to other people on the trails, and don’t interact with the wildlife you may encounter.
This gently rolling trail is eight miles round-trip and has an elevation of about 2,100 feet. Truly a hidden gem not far from Thorp, Washington, Manastash Lake Trail is one of the prettiest places in the region. Miles of pine, larch, and fir trees line the path, and there is a steady grade with a rocky surface, so watch for obstacles that could cause you to trip. Spring and fall are the best times to see wildflowers and the colors of the season and the lake provides a mirror reflection of the surrounding landscape. There is usually too much snow in the winter months to go as far as the lake.
The seven-mile Burley Mountain Trail near Randle, Washington, is very kid-friendly if you’re bringing your young ones on a run with you. The best times to hike or run the trail is between July and the end of October, and you’ll be treated to a gorgeous waterfall trickling down the side of the mountain at the beginning of the trail. Considered a moderate workout, this trail is part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
If you’re looking for a great run in the city, the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle takes you through beautiful residential areas and along the water of Lake Union. Beginning in Golden Gardens Park, the 18.8-mile trail runs west to east and has dirt and asphalt sections. You’ll run by Gas Works Park, a former gasification plant that was added to the National Register of Historic Places and opened as a public park in 1975. The trail is built on the abandoned right-of-way for a railroad, and is a very popular path for walkers, runners, inline skating, and is wheelchair accessible.