Best Urban Trails, SELF, August 2015

SELFtrailsLocated within major metropolitan areas, these running paths offer greenery, cityscapes and open spaces that make the miles fly by.

Chicago Lakefront Trail, Chicago
From dawn until dusk, runners and cyclists flock to the paved 18-mile lake path (pictured above) that offers views of the city skyline to the west and azure Lake Michigan to the east. The northernmost miles pass sandy beaches, then go off pavement through a bird sanctuary. The southern end shows off the best views of downtown’s architecture: At Promontory Point, enjoy a sweeping panorama of silver skyscrapers.

Bridle Path, New York City
A liberating ribbon of green amid Manhattan’s concrete jungle, this wide, smooth path in Central Park weaves around the verdant North Meadow. Insider tip: For primo people watching, start or finish your run with a 1.6-mile loop on the track encircling the iconic Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.

Butler Trail, Austin, Texas
Officially named the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, this at, dirt-and-gravel gem circumnavigates a lakelike part of the Colorado River that divides downtown Austin from the historic mansions of Travis Heights. You can change your running surface on part of the 10-mile loop by switching to the new floating boardwalk.

City Park, New Orleans
Spend some time with the
Big Easy’s oldest inhabitants—800-year-old oaks with massive, arching branches—in this park. Situated a few miles north of the French Quarter, the 1,300-acre space also boasts gardens, bayous, a network of paved and dirt trails, and even a 1-mile track.

Frick Park, Pittsburgh
Thick forests of oak and maple hug an extensive network of dirt paths, keeping city bustle at bay. Newbies can tackle the gentle slopes on the 1.2-mile Tranquil Trail; fitter runners will find 2.4 miles of technical and aerobic challenges on Braddock Trail.

High Line Canal Trail, Denver
A flat path parallels the High Line Canal on the city’s outskirts, past cottonwood trees and open grasslands. Best of all? The breathtaking views of the Rockies.

Joaquin Miller Park, Oakland, California
Bordering Oakland’s residential eastern edge, the packed-dirt Big Trees Trail
in hilly Joaquin Miller Park features shaggy redwoods. Hang a right when you sync up with the 3-mile Sequoia-Bayview path, which
plunges down to a fern-lined creek before climbing a hill with panoramas of downtown.

Tidal Basin, Washington, D.C.
In springtime, runners pass through tunnels of petals from Japanese cherry trees on this 2-mile paved loop in West Potomac Park. But even with no blooms, it’s a stunner. You’ll jog by monuments—they’re lit at night, making this an inspiring evening run.