What’s Your Favorite Trail Town? (iRunFar Has Moved!)

Howdy, all. Bryon from iRunFar here to let you in on a bit of news. Over the past week, I have packed up the iRunFar offices and moved them from the outskirts of Yosemite National Park in California to Park City, Utah. There were many reasons for moving on as well as was plenty of time to consider where to end up. As I can operate iRunFar wherever I have an internet connection and a post office (and a girlfriend with similarly high locational flexibility), I could live anywhere I wanted. I was living a trail runner’s dream – trail access could be one of my highest considerations in the move … and it was.

It didn’t take long for me to narrow things down to Colorado or Utah. It should be no surprise that I love high elevation trails. I’ve thought to myself more than once, “My life begins at 7,000 feet.” So true. As much as the topography of these states makes my spirits soar, so, too, do the people who live there. While it’s true that I proudly bring some East Coast traits with me, I find I relate more easily to a greater percentage of people in the Mountain West than elsewhere.

Ah, but which Rocky Mountain town to call home? Among those seriously considered were Leadville, Carbondale, Breckenridge, Silverton, Telluride, Moab, and Park City. So why Park City? Well, I spent the summers of 2005 and 2006 here and I’ve never enjoyed trail running more than I did during those summers. How could I not with 350 miles of trails, much of which is singletrack on the flanks of the Wasatch Mountains and in the abundant open space around town. From nearly anywhere in town you can be on trails within a mile or two. The summers are moderate with low humidity. The autumns are even nicer. Admittedly, I find the prospect of winter and spring here daunting, but I’ll make do with more snow running and I’m excited to give Nordic skiing and snowshoe running a shot. On top of that, of the towns I considered, Park City had the best airport access and was more centrally located for driving to the big ultra races throughout the Western US.

Park City trails

A view of Park City Mountain Resort (foreground), Masonic Hill (midground), and the Uinta Mountains (distances) from Park City's trails.

So now you know that I and iRunFar moved to Park City. Quite simply, there’s no place that I’d rather be for trail running.

Call for Comments
Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite town for trail running and why?

There are 67 comments

  1. Tobias

    Raleigh, NC. Just kidding.

    I'd move to any of those places you listed in a millisecond if family and employment allowed such a thing. To say that I'm jealous of your new trail runner's haven would be an understatement. So, a bittersweet congratulations to you! ;-)

  2. Patrick

    Bryon, It's ROCKY Mountains ;) Does that mean we'll be seeing you at our little festive affiars this coming spring and summer? Even though you chose Utah, Colorado still welcomes iRunFar…

  3. Tony Mollica

    Bryon:

    I'm glad that you moved because you wanted to; instead of because you had to! I was a little worried about you. Your choice sounds well reasoned and makes sense to me. I hope you love your new hometown; and if not you can always move.

    Have fun on the trails! I'm looking forward to an article from you on snowshoes. I'm interested in buying a pair and I am curious as to whether they have wide sizes?

  4. Sarah Lavender Smith

    Telluride! Wish you had moved there, Bryon — oh, well! As a kid I grew up driving 4×4 mountain pass roads in my family's truck and hiking the trails. Now I'm rediscovering those mountain roads and trails as a frequent visitor with extended family there. I highly recommend Imogene Pass (Ouray – Telluride) — here's a description from a race there, http://www.sarahlavendersmith.com/2009/09/imogene
    and for anyone visiting Telluride, here are my recommendations of how to get the most out of the town:
    http://away-together.com/2009/09/04/36-hours-in-t
    Best of luck to you getting settled, and I hope your running brings you back to Northern California in the not-too-distant future.

  5. Anthony

    Bishop California, small town, elevation, tons of trails, 14'ers in your back yard, and a little trail known at John Muir to check out. White Mountains and Mt Whitney a short drive away. They get snow, but not a lot, but if you want it, a 15min drive will get you to the deep stuff quick.

    Favorite runnning town I haven't been to, but know I would love from what I've seen and read: Chamonix

    AB

  6. ScottTomKretz

    Congrats on the successful move Bryon. Too bad not all moves can work out as splendidly as yours did.

    I'd love to have a lot more free time on my hands to check out some of the trails and towns within a couple hours drive of Alamosa, but the few I have gotten to check out have been pretty sweet.

    My fave though would probably be Santa Fe, N.M. While I didn't get the chance to do any running whilst visiting there in August, my girlfriend and I did a bunch of hiking, and I couldn't beleve A) how beautifully pristine the trails seemed and B) how close to downtown so many of the trails were. Heading back there is one of my top priorities…and this time, it will be with nothing but running gear in my bag.

  7. Trail Clown

    Congrats Bryon! Hope you enjoy the new digs. Keep up the same great work, or we'll send you back to Cali. I'm enjoying a beautiful Fall near the confluence of MD-WV-VA. The Appalachian ridges are full of treacherous rocks hidden by leaves, none of that pristine single-track you got going on. But it'll have to do for this old trail clown for now. My memories of Southern California's Santa Monica Mountains are still fresh, though, so I guess Los Angeles is still my favorite trail town. Betcha not many people would guess that L.A. could be a runner's paradise, but a 30 miler through Topanga Canyon from L.A. to the ocean cannot be beat!

      1. Trail Clown

        I think the Potomac Overlook trail race is next weekend…don't you still hold the short course record for that event? Might be time for someone to crush your mark…

  8. Julie K

    Park City! I live in the Salt Lake Valley, but spend every weekend in Park City during the warmer months. The single track trails around the Wasatch are absolutely incredible, and you can link together miles and miles of trails to make the perfect day of running. It's too snowy now, but my favorite loop is the "Epic Loop" (start at PCMR, take Spiro up, left on Mid-Mountain trail, up Crescent Mine Grade, up Apex, up Keystone past Shadow Lake, to the TOP! Wasatch Crest all the way to the Connector (at the Canyons), right on Mid-Mountain, all the way back to Spiro and down. It's 32 miles or so of pure joy.

    Check out: http://www.mountaintrails.org/

    Welcome to Utah!

  9. Eddy

    My favorite place is still the village and valley where I grew up in Northern Italy (Rueglio, Valchiusella), 1.5 hours drive from Courmayeur…..I go back once a year to enjoy the trails and mountain air…(always a great time!!)

  10. Chris Kilmer

    For me, there is the tug of calling ONE place home and running. I like connecting with home. Experiencing all the seasons. Feeling the transitions from summer into fall and onto winter. And then spring opens it's eyes. From that aspect, where I live now, Nederland, CO, is amazing. Great trails, easy access to the high country. And the town is a real, established community vs. a resort with many second home owners.

    Ned is at 8250, so we are already pretty high. Great for running during the summer and fall. Not so much during the winter. And as much as I LOVE winter, I still crave quiet, uncrowded trails. I'd love to have a second place down near Moab (maybe Castle Valley area) to frequent during the winters. I just find the scenery in that area STUNNING! The Big Bend area in Texas would be another winter idea, but I'd prefer the culture in Moab. Of course, Big Bend has some of the darkest skies in in the country. Can you say Milky Way?

    There are a ton of places in Colorado that would be amazing from a trails perspective. But how about from a community perspective? For me, I think Silverton and Ouray hold some good possibilities.

    Another option, which has less of a winter than the Rockies, would be Santa Fe. As somebody already mentioned, great town and trails. I might actually move down there in a year or two to go back to school. But, I'm sure I'll make my way back north once I'm finished.

  11. mtnrunner2

    Boulder! It's great being able to run the mountains behind town after work. The trails are varied, scenic, and easily accessible from anywhere in the Boulder-Denver area all week. And currently there are no bikes on mountain trails.

  12. Jason Koop

    Colorado Springs, CO. The running trails here are a big reason I call this home. The trails here are accessible during the vast majority of the year. You get technial, non-techie, steep, gradual, above 14,000, both accessable and remote, both busy and quiet all in the same geographic area. I cannot remember the last time I drove to a trailhead to run. I just leave my house or work and within a mile have access to just about an unlimited amount of any type of terrain and grade. Park City/SLC and Boulder are also good, but don't compare to COS IMHO.

    koop

  13. megatomic

    Congrats on a successful and smooth move Bryon. It would have been cool to have you back in Ithaca, but I can understand your choice and the motivations behind it.

    If I had my pick of places to live based on trail running, I'd pick someplace like Loveland, CO. It's super close to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Plus there are excellent job opportunities there in my profession. Speaking of which, there is a job opening in Pueblo that is ME. How are the trails around Pueblo?

  14. mayayo

    Check out CERCEDILLA as well: Population 6.000. Nice mountain village just 50km (30mi) out from Madrid (Spain), and right at the Guadarrama National Park. Great bus & train connections to/from airport/downtown

    Trails start at 1.200m high and climb up to 2.430m at Peñalara, with pine forest and granite crest all around. Trail running conditions year round, from -5ºC to 25ºC.

    No wonder Cercedilla is home to the Madrid Alpine Marathon, and has hosted several Spanish national trail running championshis. Yes, ski stations and rock climbing routes are also available here ;-)

    (In fact, the only 2 ski olympic medalists Sapin ever produced were from this village)

  15. MikeC

    Anchorage AK. I see more moose than people on many runs. Never ending summer days, you could run a marathon before and after a regular workday without a headlamp in May, June and July.

  16. Ryan Wixom

    Congrats on the move to PC, UT. Please have a Park City Steamer for me. One of the beautiful things about Utah is how uncrowded the trails are compared to similar environs.

    Los Alamos, NM has to be high on the list. The town has a ridiculous amount of high altitude single-track that is accessible for most of the year. It also boasts a high density of ultrarunners (who are not dense, mostly scientists). However the town has terrible airport access, no decent pubs, and nothing to do once the trail fun ends. The only consolation is that Santa Fe isn't too far away.

    Albuquerque, while lacking mountain town charm, does provide access to mountain single-track nearly 365 sunny days a year.

  17. Alan Jaques

    Would have to add Prescott, AZ to the mix. Although I wasn't a trail runner at the time, the abundance of altitude, trails and near perfect weather would put it high on my list of places to return when I retire.

    1. Nick

      Alan, my wife and I have run the Brownlow 10k trail race the last two years and by accident found the Peavine trail the next day. After investigating I was shocked how many trails they have up there! Next summer I plan to run a bunch of them if at all possible!

    1. Steve

      Augburn?? Two words for you — poison oak.

      The worst part of the recovery from WS was having to go in for steroid injections. Don't know how you do it – I'll take the eastern side of the sierra. Carson City, NV — 20 miles from the doorstep over snow valley peak to Lake Tahoe. Winters – runs from Ruiz's house all over the sage covered mountains to the east soaking up that solar radiation.

  18. Brian

    Bryon,

    You made the right decision! Just about any town along the Wasatch front from Provo to Ogden rivals any trail town in the world. Having spent most of my life along the Front I'm biased, but for quality, quantity, and convenience I've never seen a better place. Go Utah!

  19. Thayne

    You definately picked the best place to relocate. The Wasatch Mountains are the place to be! Welcome to Utah!

    Hint for winter … follow the snowmobile tracks and you can run through most of winter in the mountains. I've been up to 9000 ft in my running shoes and gaiters in Jan/Feb when the conditions are right, just dress warm and have a backup.

    -happy running-

  20. Andrew Brautigam

    You could also add some more fun to your life by riding mountain bikes and/or backcountry skiing. I would live in Durango, CO, if I could.

    1. Jacob

      To be more specific, one of my favorite runs is a 14 mile roundtrip run beginning at Meeks Bay. After a flat, sandy-ish first mile, the trail kicks up and ascends pretty decently for the 7 miles or so. Feels so nice on the way back as you can imagine. Chill runs beginning at DL Bliss State Park to Emerald Bay and back are always scenic and beautiful. Barker Pass, Castle Peak, Homewood Loop, Grouse Ridge, Squaw Valley, and so many more great places to enjoy the trails around Lake Tahoe.

  21. Anonymous

    Taos, NM is one of my favorites. The trails are endless and one almost always has the place to his or herself. There is a huge variety of trails from high mountain to the mid-elevation ponderosa and pinon forests and some really spectacular desert trails parallel to the Rio Grande gorge. Santa Fe is also close by and has a large amount of mountain trails as well if you somehow get tired of the Taos trails. I currently live in Albuquerque which also has some really fantastic trails very close to the city. I can be at a number of different trailheads in 15min or less after work and the high desert foothills of the Sandia mountain range are really spectacular. Oh yeah, and the skiing in Taos is off the hook!

  22. Dan Moore

    My home town of St. George , UT is pretty good. We have high altitude in striking distance, but can run great trails all winter long. We also make a good weekend trip from Park City if you decide you need to run on some dirt.

  23. Steve

    Probably not Idaho Falls, though it is a nice place. I love Park City. My in-laws have a time share there and my wife and I spend a week with grandparents and aunts watching the kids by the pool while we run those fantastic trails. Maybe I'll see you there next summer.

  24. Hone

    Calabasas is turning out to be a pretty cool place to run. I have been spending a ridiculous amount of time in the Santa Monica Mountains lately. Good climbs but it has been in the low 100s temp wise the last couple of days. Yikes!

    Also if you are staying put over Christmas I will be in Utah for a couple weeks around that time. We should meet up and share some trail time. I am off FB but will shoot u an email when time gets closer.

  25. Stacy

    Fun topic. I'm partial to places where the mountains meet the desert. So, my heart belongs to Southwestern CO, Southern UT, and Northern AZ and NM. As a town, St George ranks below the best of this macro region – roughly the Colorado Plateau – but ranks toward the top as a trailhead. Besides very good run-out/run-in stuff from the edge of town, Zion is 45 minutes away and Bryce or GC (North Rim) are 2 hours. Bonus: as Ryan said above, the trails get wonderfully light traffic. Especially on Sunday.

  26. Sam W

    Great choice Byron. Been commuting from NH to PC for 4 years and find the Park City trails incredible. Try the Flying Dog connect to Glenwild before the snow is too deep. In winter the "groomers" in Round Valley are a new treat immaculate 30k or so of machine groomed run ski ride trails i like to run an hour then ski an hour . Dogs welcome.

    New England: fast scenic infinite hunt horse trails around Topsfield Hamilton MA are a joy; gnarly single track Mt A in York ME or Exeter Newfields NH, Hanover NH anywhere and especially Oak hill XC trails.

  27. Dan Metcalf, Marylan

    Hey man, no comment on favorite running town, but best of luck with your move/settling in, and keep up the great work on the site! You really provide a terrific resource. Enjoy your new town!

  28. Moogy

    Good for you Bryon and I wish you all the best.

    I sort of have a similar situation but available monies limit where I can live. But the way that my work situation is, two-month on, two-month off, I have the luxury of living anywhere I want during my time off. Well, anywhere is limited by VISAs, etc, so living in Canada it is. I decided to, for right now, locate in Ontario near my folks so they could look after my dog when I am at work. There are some pretty good trails nearby, mtb mostly and I haven't been here long enough yet to find all the great stuff. In the new year I am thinking about relocating to either near Banff, where the Canadian Death Race is, N. Van, or Squamish. Just have to find a way to get my dog back to Ontario. There are some GREAT trails in all those places. I'll find something. But right now Collingwood is where my dirty shoes lay. Some pretty hard-core mtb'ers, triathletes around here, just need to find some trail ultra folks to hang w/. Going to have to connect w/ Derrick S. a couple of hours away.

    later dude…

  29. Emily Baehr

    the views are spectacular! Too bad Illinois hills are in the south. Many of you are so lucky! Not that I don't mind avoiding hills every so often :) I can pop across the street and run in the National Fermi lab acceleration lab or to a few glacial till's in the area. Indiana also has a few nice areas for trail running. As does Wisconsin. Unfortunately Northern Illinois has limited trail running, aside from forest preserves that are mostly flat. They are still nice to run when you want to really space out.

  30. Glenn S

    Bryon,

    You would have liked it if you had moved here to Telluride. If you like terrain as extreme as the Hardrock 100 course available to you by walking out your door, this is the place to be. Starting at 8,700 feet you can be at 12,000 – 13,000 in an hour or so. Lots of ridgeline running, tons of above treeline opportunities. The kind of place where you leave for a 2 hour run and don't come back for 8 hours. It is difficult NOT to run on trails here and everything is either up or down, climbing is the name of the game. You can run a different trail every day for a year. The amount of varied terrain within a 2 or 3 hour drive from here is incredible – Moab is 2.25 hours away for some desert running, Grand Junction and the Kokopelli trails are 2.5 hours away, Ouray's mountain trails and jeep roads are 1 hour away, and Silverton and the Weminuche Wilderness are another 20 miles from there. Lizard Head Wilderness is some of my favorite running on the planet. But Telluride isn't an easy place to live, unless you are used to $15 hamburgers and $4 ice teas. And do you have $1,000,000 minimum to buy a fixer-upper in town? If you ever get out here for a visit let me know, would love to point you in the direction of some great mountain runs.

    Glenn S

    Telluride

  31. Rob H

    Bend, Oregon (which includes Sisters). I do love the Wasatch range which has extensive trails and I just moved from the Salt Lake area but the winter season is a bit too long. If I get tired of the snow in Bend I can go down to Ashland or up to Portland or run the many trails along the coast of Oregon.

  32. Kaye

    Nice choice! In the winter, you can head out to the west desert for lots of trails and a lot less snow. I would say about 45 minutes west of Tooele would be a good start. (Look me up when you come out this way! Then, plan to run slowly so that I can keep up.) OR, head south to Moab which is probably the most beautiful place on earth.

    As for Park City trails, that Mid Mountain Marathon (September) kicked my butt. I'm just becoming a trail runner. It was so stinking hard (for me)!

    Another run NOT TO MISS is the Sapper Joe (SLC in May, http://www.fatpackracing.com/sapper-joe-trail-rac… HOLY CATS! Totally worth it with a low entry fee, great charitable cause, and really great aid station staff. The first four miles are an enormous kick in the pants!

    Welcome to Utah!

  33. Paul S.

    Hi Byron, Welcome to Park City! I have been here for 12 years and I run the trails all the time, never getting tired or bored of them. The only issue is the winters – then you can run on the X-country trails (which are usually packed down), on the dirt road that goes out the back of Jeremy Ranch, or drive down to lower ground…Contact me if you want more info!

    1. Bryon Powell

      Thanks for the greeting, Paul. Park City is such a great place to run. I do wish I could still be out on the trails, but I won't complain since I can still run from Old Town up over Empire Pass and beyond. I haven't hit the groomed Round Valley track yet… I still feel bad about messing it up. For now, it's strength building on the roads until the snow melts. Speaking of which, when do the lower trails like Round Valley typically thaw?

  34. Marcus

    I could not have said it any better. I am lucky enough to live in this amazing town. It truly is a paradise for people who run, cycle, mountain bike, and of course ski. I love getting on the many miles of single track and in the fresh mountain air, and hardly see anyone. Our little town is always full of many events and activities. Park City, Utah is truly paradise!

  35. Carson

    Hey Bryon, I know this post is a few years late but I couldn't help but give my two cents worth. Currently living in Fort Collins going to school, missing the trails in Missoula where I came here from, but totally excited to head to Duluth and the wonderful shores of Lake Superior! The North Shore has so much to offer. Wilderness and trails everywhere! And the best thing about it all is that Duluth somehow consistently flies under the radar. Not many people comin' in, but not too many leaving either because people like it there. That sleepy little northern town is just my style and is the only place I want to be!

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