America’s Best Trail Running Cities Contest!

Destination Dirt logoiRunFar is looking for info on 32 of the best trail running cities in the US and we making it worth your while. How? By giving away 32 pairs of Salomon XR Crossmax, the company’s brand new door-to-trail running shoe. That got your attention didn’t it?!

While we talk in terms of “cities,” we’re actually looking for the scoop on each city and an area within roughly 50 miles of the city. For each city/area we’d love to know:

  • What are the best trail running areas? Think on the scale of a park/trail system rather than a single trail.
  • What are the best trail races or trail race series, whatever the distance?
  • Who are the top trail runners regardless of their specialty distance?
  • What trail running groups are in the area?
  • What are the best specialty running stores with trail running selections?

If you can, let us know what’s great about each running area, trail race, etc. that you provide. Share whatever else you think would be useful to know as a trail runner in each of these areas. The more info the better! (Ps. We’d love to know your connection to the area, too!)

We’ve set up 32 topics, one for each city, in a separate forum. One lucky commenter on each of the city-specific forum topics linked below will win a pair of a Salomon XR Crossmax. (That’s one pair of shoes for each city.) To be eligible to win, you must leave a substantive comment (i.e., provide some bit of useful knowledge about trail running in one of these areas) in the forum [removed link to forum] before 11:59 pm MST on Monday, February 14. We’ll announce the winner both in each thread and on by Friday, February 18. While you can leave comments on this article, only comments left in the forum will result in contest eligibility. Note: You do not have to answer all of the above questions to enter the contest! Share what you have the time to do – we and the rest of iRunFar’s readers will appreciate it! Hopefully, you’ll learn something by reading the comments of others regarding the areas where you run.

APPEAL: Please spread word of this info gathering contest! Let your friends know via blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, or email. We very rarely make such pleas, but could really use your help pulling together great trail running information.

Reassurance and ADDED CONTEST!: Folks, please don’t take offense at your city not making the list. This is not an absolute list. It’s 32 OF the best trail running cities in America, and it was put together with the needs of a specific project in mind.

Think that your city or town deserves recognition as a Best Trail Running City or Town in America? Well, we’d love to have you help populate the iRunFar Forum with information from cities and towns not on the list below. As a little encouragement, we’re now offering 10 $10 gift certificates to be drawn from among those who comment (or start a topic with a substantive comment) in the forum on a city or town specific trail running area with the above questions in mind. To be eligible, you must comment before 11:59 pm MST on Monday, February 14. All the other rules outlined above apply here, as well. As with the shoe giveaway, each city or town on which you comment results in a separate entry.

Cities East of the Mississippi

Cities West of the Mississippi

[Disclosure: Just in case you didn’t guess, Salomon is providing the XR Crossmax for contest.]

There are 55 comments

    1. Bryon Powell

      Glad you like it, Jeff. Right now I'm treating the forum as pre-Beta. I hadn't intended in launching it for a while longer, if ever, but I figured that it would be much more useful to collect data on so many cities in separate forum topics than a huge comment thread on ALL the cities. Publishing 32 articles on iRunFar was also not a reasonable option.

      If and when the iRunFar forum is fully launched, you can bet that there'll be a link for it on! :-) (Hopefully, folks can figure out my temporary and inelegant solution for an home button on the forums. )

  1. Antirabbit


    Why is Chicago not on this list????

    Plus, its metro area spans 3 states, with tons of good trail running to boot.

    Also, with in this "greater metro" area, there are some very classic Ultras-like Ice Age 50, and TNF Endurance Challenge, all in the Kettle Morraine system……

    1. Brian Gaines

      I posted this on the Chicago Ultrarunners Facebook page regarding this. Antirabbit, are you on facebook and are you a fan of our CHUG fan page and a member of our CHUG group?

      I hope we can get some help with this.


    2. Pete Witucki

      Not to mention the extensive forest preserve system in and around the city. Most notably, Palos Forest Preserve with many miles of continuous, technical singletrack just 40 minutes from DT Chicago (that's WITH traffic!).

      But I get it, we can't have it all!

  2. Mike Wolfe

    Helena, Montana is an entirely under-rated trail running town to live in. Beats out Bozeman any day of the week in terms of immediate accessibility and year-round running on trails. Bozeman may have the bigger mountains, but in a normal snow year, your window for running those trails is late May through October, if you're lucky. Helena doesn't have the high peaks, but I have 4 trailheads within a 2-minute jog of my front door, and I can run the single-track trails for hours and hours, literally year round (snow-packed and perfect in winter)…..I'm just saying. A humble Montucky perspective….

    1. Bryon Powell

      Blaine, There were a ton of hard choices and hard cuts to make in trimming down this list. Among those on the short list, but not the final list were many of the cities others mention, including:

      Chicago, Illinois
      Helena, Montana

      There were even many hard choices in making an over inclusive draft list, such as Charlottesville, VA and the central North Carolina urban area.

      1. Run To Win

        Yeah, I'm sure it was tough. That's all right, I added Southern Maine and provided a good overview for folks even if it's not eligible for a prize. We have some good trails up here.

        1. Run To Win

          (Ahh – used my forum login name automatically…I trust that having "Run to Win" as my name in the comments won't be a problem, will it? Don't want to seem spammy. I can log off and put my actual name in if it is an issue.)

          1. Bryon Powell

            Run to Win is a completely acceptable name. If you prefer to use another name for both (sorry, I thought it would be helpful to coordinate the website and forum), please leave a comment or shoot me an email via the contact form to let me know what other name you'd prefer for both.

            1. Run To Win

              No worries – having it integrated is handy (less typing for me to do to leave a comment) – I often use Run to Win in forums instead of Blaine Moore, but on blogs I tend to go with my actual name so that I don't seem like I'm "keyword stuffing" which can annoy people. As long as it doesn't bug you, I'm good with it. :)

        2. Bryon Powell

          Run To Win, while I can't extend the sick Salomon offer to additional trails, I've added an admittedly much smaller incentive to provide info on other cities in the forums… a bunch of $10 gift certificates. Don't worry, you're already eligible for the piece you've already written. Feel free to write in the forum about more cities that you know about for more chances to win.

  3. Andrew

    Charlottesville, VA definitely needs to be on the list!

    The Rivanna Trail is a 20 mile loop that encloses the city. Most of the trail is single track, with a few sections offering nice hills. Observatory Hill, which is accessible as a spur off the Rivanna Trail offers many miles are great single track and challenging hills.

    Walnut Creek Park is 450 acre park roughly 10-15 minutes outside of Charlottesville which offers runners 15 miles of single track. In my opinion, Walnut Creek is one of the best areas to run immediately around Charlottesville.

    Jefferson National Forest/Shenandoah National Park- Both areas can be accessed within 20-45 minutes depending on where you are heading, and can put you on very challenging terrain which could be run for many days consecutively without repeating.


    Both the Bel Monte Endurance Run and Great Eastern Endurance run are operated by the Charlottesville Running Company, and take place in Sherando Park (45 minutes away from Charlottesville).

    Also, Charlottesville is in close proximity to the majority of events in the Lynchburg Ultra Series.

    Running Groups:

    There are several running groups in town, both trail and road focused. The Charlottesville Trail Running Club (run by the Charlottesville Running Company) organizes events occasionally. There are also many members of Virginia Happy Trails Running Club who meet up and run weekly.

    Running Stores:

    Specialty running stores include Ragged Mountain Running and Charlottesville Running Company.

    1. Louis Secreto

      Check out Philadelphia and The Fairmont Park, the trails in the Wissahickon are uber fun. Nice punchy climbs, flowing trails and some fun rocky sections make for great trail running. Most of the time you wont believe you're running in the city. From the front of the art museum steps (the rocky statue) it's only a 5 mile run along scenic east river drive to the start of the Wissahickon trail system where you could do what's called the 4 corners run. It's a 21+ mile loop of the park. If you drive and park in the lot by the Valley Green Inn, I would recommend having a bite to eat in this historic building. It's been around sense the 17 hundreds and the staff are more than welcoming to runners, bikers, families and their 4 legged friends.

      The Philadelphia area has a large group of friendly running clubs BUT 1 and Only 1 true trail running group; The Wissahickon Wanderers. Tuesdays, Thursday, Saturdays are Sundays are organized runs in the park. The 1st week of spring and fall are the Wanderers fun & low key trail series as well as the Wissahickon 10K classic early summer. For other trail races you can't beat the races put on by Pretzel City Sports of Reading, Pa! These events are loads of fun for new trails runners as well as seasoned runners. Once you do one of these races you'll be hooked and want to do every race they put on. They are a great way to connect with old and new friends a like and they become more than just trail races.

      As far as running shops with knowledgeable and experienced staff that are more than willing to give out helpful tips to make your running fun you can't beat the Fairmont Running Company and the Bryn Mawr Running Company. Its would be really unfair to list who the top male and female trail runners are in the area. Everyone in the Philadelphia trail running community is open and welcoming which makes hitting the trails so much fun.

      I strongly suggest to anyone coming into the Philadelphia are for business or pleasure to bring your trail shoes and hit up the Wissahickon Wanderers for some good old fashion dirty fun!

      Happy Trails……

        1. Louis Secreto


          The next time you're in the Philly area hit me or the Wanderers up, we'd love to hit the trails with you. Too Bad Philly's not on the list of 32 of the best trail running cities.

          Happy Trails

  4. Martha

    Am surprised also that the Chapel Hill/Carrboro, NC area isn't on the list. We have trails that are in the middle of both Chapel Hill/Carrboro and have at least 15+ miles of single track that are loved by the community. The Trailheads are an active group that host a race in the spring called the Philosopher's Way trail run. There are probably close to 80+ members of this active running community that spans from ultra-runner's to shorter distances. We are also involved in helping teach newbies about the trail system and getting into trail running. This group will run all over the country for trail races as well as road races. The group meets Wed – Sat. and goes over to the local coffee shop, The Open Eye Cafe, for coffee afterwards. Also, the group members all have trail names by which they are referred and by which the naming committee gives them after they've run with the group three times, shared coffee and also told a joke on the trails.

    There are also several road running groups in the area: The Mill Striders, Cardinal Track Club, Godiva Track Club.

    Our group also just finishing hosting the Little River Trail Run

    Running stores in the area are Bull City Running – Durham (both trail and road shoes) and Fleet Feet – Carrboro (although they don't focus as much on the trail shoe market)

    Trailheads Website:

    Uwharrie is a big race in the area that folks will be racing this weekend:

    Mountains to the Sea Trail Race:

  5. mylesmyles

    I posted comments on my respecitve area on the forum. Is the goa lof this to put together a guide on where to run/ go for the trailrunning community? If so, I look forward to the completion of it, and hope that there is the ability to add to it, without it being an endless thread in the forum.

  6. Bryan Johnson

    I must agree with Mike Wolfe.. I have been to a majority of these cities and probably didnt hit all the hot spots but Helena Mt. has trail access within minuites 360 degrees around the city all year. And let me tell ya we sure take advatage of it!!!

  7. Justin Busch

    Breckenridge, CO. The Trails here are insane. Once you get use to the altitude, its awesome. 75 and Sunny all summer. Theres about 8 different trail heads located right in town. Great trails up behind carter park on Mt. Baldy. Lots of old mining trails and ruins, Sally Barber, Flumes, French Gulch. There's an amazing 14mile stretch of the Colorado Trail with great views of Keystone and A-Basin. The Bike path is great too, you can take the Peaks trail all the way to Frisco or Copper and jump on the Bike path to get back, or use the FREE Bus system if your too tired. I was finding new trails all summer. Running on the actual ski resort is amazing as well, going from peak to peak on insane switch backs. Being on a mountain like Breckenridge that can be insanely crowded during ski season and not seeing a single person for 3 hours is something else. We have great shops like Patagonia and Northface but the local shop, Mountain Outfitters has a great selection and a friendly knowledgeable staff. You can't beat the races in Breck either. A great trail running series over the summer sponsored by the town and Nike, different trails every other week. Thier are a few other races but the main one would be Breckcrest. Right now were in the middle of the "Ascent series", 6:15 AM cllimbs up the ski resort, one way to get in running shape. I ran the 5mile Breckcrest last summer and had a blast, plan on doing the full marathon this coming september. The Breckcrest course makes regular road races just look boring. The finish is at the beautiful riverwalk center and it's just a great race vibe. I'm not sure who the "top racers" are in Breck but im sure there's some serious enduros up here. I was surprised how few other runners I saw out on the Trails considered how amazing they are. I havn't been running in too many other places sides upstate NY but I'm sure it dosnt get much better than Breckenridge.

  8. Mike Charbonneau

    Although technically part of "America", but not in the USA, Banff Alberta is one of the best spots I've been to for tail running. Of course, living in Calgary, I am a bit biased, but after travelling extensively across North America, I have to say it's pretty hard to beat. There are literally thousands of kilometres of runnable hiking, biking, and horse back riding trails, from flat to high elevation, all within an hour's drive. Also, if you fancy B-I-G hills, there are hundreds of awesome mountain scrambles that are a blast to run, and offer some of the best scenery anywhere and some really exciting terrain.

    Plus, don't forget the best part, the natural hot springs and many pubs and restaurants for the after-run goodness. If you're ever planning a trail running road trip up north, make sure to hit up Banff!

  9. Todd Gallagher

    By America, do you mean just the USA or is Canada included as well? Becuase Vancouver BC and the surrounding area could rival anywhere in the world for trail running hotspots! Temperate rainforests, with tons of vertical and techcnical trails. There's a reason why Gary Robbins and Jason Loutett nailed the HURT course!

  10. mlebow

    NYC has far more trails to run than most New Yorkers are even aware of. Staten Island also known as the "forgotten borough" has approx 50 miles of trails for runners to explore.

    First and Foremost there is the Staten Island Greenbelt.

    There are six major Greenbelt trails that offer diverse running experiences for people of all abilities. Four woodland trails, on which bicycles and motorized vehicles are prohibited, are identified by the color of their blaze marks.

    ultipurpose Trail

    The multipurpose trail differs greatly from Greenbelt woodland trails. This new, pedestrian-friendly trail is also the only trail on which bike-riding is permitted. The mostly flat 2.6 mile circuit has a crushed gravel surface and six-foot wide walkways. The multipurpose trail has been a boon to the running community and recreational walkers and cyclists. Segments of it are utilized for the Greenbelt’s annul Cold Feat 10K race in February.

    There are currently 9 trail races scheduled in the Staten Island this year the Greenbelt is home to the "Cold Feat" 10K', "The High Rock Challenge" 10k+, "The Fall Flat" 5K, and a yet to be named 25K. The High Rock challenge which was Staten Island’s first organized trail even started with 150 participants this year it will easily meet its cap of 1000 participants.

    Then there is my personal favorite, Wolfe’s Pond Park. With a great mix of single and double track trails and a fairly decent size paved path for those less fortunate Wolfe’s Pond is great place to run. No matter how technical the trail is and how lost in the woods you feel you are always within shouting distance of civilization.

    Wolfe’s Pond Park has several variations of loops ranging from 2-8 miles. Approx 1 and ½ miles away is another park know as Long Pond this undeveloped plot adjoins the Department of Environmental Conservations park at Mount Loretto and offers 3-4 miles of trail running. Add the two together and enjoy your long run.

    Wolfe’s Pond Park is home to several more trail run/races as well including the “Ladder 5” 5K, “The Wolfe’s Run” 10k, “The 2 if by Land 1 if by Sea adventure race” which is a 10K run 20K mountain bike and 3 mile kayak. This year Spartan will be hosting a Super Spartan at Wolfes Pond Park which is an 8 mile course.

    Staten Island has over 3100 Acres of Woodlands and trails to run and enjoy. With the ongoing conversion of the one of the largest landfills in the World to an additional 2800 acre park the trail running opportunities’ will only continue to grow.

    The Staten Island Greenbelt Conservancy, The New York Adventure Racing Assocaiton and the NYC Parks Department will continue to work together to bring great trail running oppurtunites to NYC residents and our neighbors.

    Then there are the trails in Queens-Forest Park, Alley Pond Park, Cuningham Park, The Bronx- Van Cortlandt Park but those are for another day..

  11. Brian Walter

    Lots of great trail running in Colorado and the best on the front range is up in Fort Collins. Denver, while on your list, rolls in 4th behind the Fort, Boulder, and Colorado Springs. Between Horsetooth Mountain Park and Lory State Park there are 50 miles of trails with great views of Horsetooth Reservoir and plenty of big climbs minutes west of the city.

  12. Sandra Egger

    Santa Cruz, CA – Miles upon miles of beautiful trails, where the mountains meet the ocean, and an athletic culture that’s hard to beat!

  13. Collin Anderson

    Going to have to go with Salt Lake City, UT. There are numerous canyons filled with incredible running lining the Salt Lake valley (Little / Big Cottonwood Canyons & Mill Creek being my favorites), and as you go North or South along the Wasatch Front, there's amazing offshoots from one main trail (Bonneville Shoreline) for literally 100s of miles. And then of course there's Park City / Parley's Canyon trail routes on top of that. The great thing is that you can connect any of them together, especially in longer runs, such as in the Wasatch Front 100. One other thing worth mentioning is that you can pretty easily hit anywhere from 4500' to 11500' in a single run.

  14. Travis Roberts

    What about St. George, UT. Zion is in the backyard, and we all know that Zion is the Disneyland of trail running. On top of the that, the area is chocked full of mountain bike trails, which we all know make great running trails. Pine Valley Mountain, Utah Hill, and part of the Grand Canyon are all within ~50 miles of the area. The red rocks on the North end and the Mojave on the South end make this a great place for outdoor adventure. The area is still mostly untapped for trail runners, but it's only a matter of time; Lonely Planet called Southern Utah the number one travel destination in the U.S. for 2011. Bryon, you need to take a 4-hour drive down I-15 and experience the magic.

  15. Martin Miller

    My vote is for Helena, Montana. As a long-time resident trail/ultrarunner, I'm still amazed by the trails we have here. One great feature, as Mike pointed out above, is the accessibility of the trails from town. I live in a very central neighborhood, but there are at least 4 trailheads within a 15 minute jog. I have, right out my back door, everything from easy 5-6 mile loops to a 25 mile jaunt that includes 5000+ feet of ascent that I've used to train for many ultras, including two Hardrock finishes.

    Trail races include the Don't Fence Me In Trail Runs 30K/12K/5K, HURL Elkhorn 50M/50K/23K, the South Hills Trail Series with 4 races 3-7 miles long, the new Thunderbolt Creek 50K, and the Mt. Helena Classic — 5.6 miles and only one hill. The first and last entries on this list start downtown, near the county library.

    Running stores staffed by competent trailrunners include Tread Lightly and the Base Camp. HURL (Helena UltraRunners League) and the Vigilante Runners provide support groups for whatever your running goals include.

    That said, Bozeman is a worthwhile alternative. As Mike pointed out, the season is a bit shorter, and I don't think very many folks live within an easy running distance of any significant trailheads, but I've run a couple of their trail ultras, Old Gabe 50K and Devil's Backbone 50 Mile, both quality events. The Bridger Ridge Run (20 mile) is now way too popular, but a great run on a challenging course. I've also journeyed over to get in an adventure run or two in the Spanish Peaks Wilderness just outside of town, or the Crazy Mountains a little farther east.

  16. Yassine

    I definitely have to put a plug in for Portland, Oregon for one of America's Best Trail Running Cities. As a resident trail runner I am so grateful to have Forest Park, a 5,000 acre park with over 70 miles of trails, right next to the city. The Wildwood Trail goes 31 miles from end to end and there are many spurs off of the main trail. There are other parks within the city limits such as Washington Park, Marquam Nature Reserve, Mt. Tabor, Tryon Creek, etc., and The Columbia River Gorge is less than 50 miles away. I would say that the gorge has some of the best trails I've stepped foot on to date with waterfalls, views of volcanoes, technicolor green landscapes, and good climbs.

    Fit Right Northwest is a local running store that carries many trail-specific gear and offers group outings. Also, Trail Factor is a low-key trail running group that often organizes group runs.

    OK…that's my plug….I'm off for a run! :-)

  17. jon seiber

    gotta back yassine… forest park, as far as i know, is the largest urban park in the u.s…. the wildwood trail the longest urban trail, @ about 50k point to point… the whole west side of pdx is loaded with trails and a fair amount of vertical for an urban setting… the gorge is straight nuts with many climbs that average about 1000 feet per mile ( mt. defiance offers about 5000 ft. for just over 5 miles… try and beat that…) not to mention mt. st. helens and mt. hood, which are both quite close and offer some transcendental trail time… we're very fortunate to live here and i often count my blessings… hard to beat portlandia…


  18. Greg

    Although I like the spirit of this idea, I won't be posting info.

    Here's why:

    One of the great things about trail running is that it isn't a pavement Marathon; it is usually a smallish group of people, out for a run together in the woods, running on terrain that is rough enough to demand your attention, but clearly marked enough (usually) to keep you from getting lost in the wilderness. The wilderness is the part of trail running that differentiates it from a park.

    Because of the distances we run, and the relative lack of formality around the trails we run, the sport has not been overwhelmed with hordes of people in the same way that Marathons have been overwhelmed.

    Trail running in general, and Ultras in particular, are at a stage of development that hasn't been wildly commercialized (yet), where the act of going out to run will still introduce you to other trail runners, who will in turn introduce you to trails they've discovered or created locally. That process….the human person-to-person process of meeting new, similarly like-minded people and getting to know this sport…is what makes trail running in general, and Ultras in particular, still a special sport in my opinion. I don't want to see it commercialized or mainstreamed via the Internet, because the trails cannot accommodate the same kind of massive influx of people that have made the typical Marathon race the equivalent of boarding the subway in Tokyo.

    Other sports were wise enough to recognize the need to maintain person-to-person growth in order to prevent the destruction of the sport itself via overuse and destruction of the IRREPLACEABLE natural habitats which support the sport. Cavers have been and are notoriously tight lipped about cave locations, knowing that it takes 10,000 years for a cave to create a single 3 inch long helictite, which a single uncaring or clueless new caver could destroy in a second of "Cool! Let me take a souvenir!" thinking. Climbers were somewhat similarly circumspect about locations of crags which had dodgy access issues and which required sensitivity on the part of the climbers to get in and out of the area. Climbers (unfortunately) had to learn the hard way (via the publication of a notorious website which indiscriminately published the locations of literally every large and small crag in the USA which the author was able to wheedle out of local climbers through various "give me the information" contests). The result of that website being published was an influx of non-local climbers to areas that required sensitivity which they did not possess, and the subsequent PERMANENT closure of many crags by landowners due to overuse or suddenly chronic trespass issues.

    Trail systems are largely natural areas. They have their own ecosystems of flora and fauna, and were created and maintained by trail groups with an eye towards minimal impact and sustainability. They are an irreplaceable resource that can easily be rendered unusable by the kind of influx that this kind of contest engenders. We cannot be exploiters of our trails, we must also be stewards of them as well, and this kind of one-stop-website-listing does not serve that purpose.

    Also? It removes the opportunity find out about the trails by going through the process of meeting local runners and being shown the areas, and getting to meet the people that share your passion, and who have a sense of stewardship for the areas we've built or discovered.

    I understand the spirit of this list you are building, but I disagree with what experience has shown to be the results of creating such a list.

    I'm glad my city isn't on your list, and therefore isn't in your crosshairs. I'd ask you to reconsider what it is you are doing to the sport with this contest….are you stewards, or are you exploiters? That is a question for you alone.


    1. Bryon Powell

      I can understand your point of view, but this isn't about trying to inform folks about the hidden cave or that gnarly crag in Rancher Joe's back 40. We're looking for some basics about major trail resources. I don't see an issue sending a few more runners out into Forest Park in Portland or Rock Creek Park in DC. Perhaps I really am an exploiter, but I see little harm in promoting the sport I love. I try to be a steward in that I practice and encourage thoughtful, deliberate use of our nature resources. I can't agree with the perspective of I was trail running first, any new trail runners or ultrarunners are bad even if it would benefit me in terms of getting into races. If being on the trails is such a bad thing, perhaps those of us who are already using them, should stop using them as well.

      As for providing resources in a bulletin board, there's nothing stopping folks from making connections via the web and I explicitly encourage folks to list groups so that runners can find their trail brethren. If you're not already in the scene, it can be find the people/groups to meet up with… let alone even thinking that such groups exist. I agree 100% that the human/community aspect of trail running and ultras in particular is huge. It's what I've come to love most about the sport. I want to help people meet those others.

      1. Greg


        You restated my post in a completely absurd way by inventing things I didn't say and then responding to them without addressing anything I actually did say. You may, in fact, be an exploiter, as this is a characteristic normally found in exploitive people who are unable to respond rationally to reasonable feedback. Your responses to things I didn't say:

        1. "I can’t agree with the perspective of I was trail running first, any new trail runners or ultrarunners are bad…"

        2. "this isn’t about trying to inform folks about the hidden cave or that gnarly crag in Rancher Joe’s back 40"

        No shit. I didn't say either of those things.

        You DO say: "I try to be a steward in that I practice and encourage thoughtful, deliberate use of our nature resources" and "I don’t see an issue sending a few more runners out into Forest Park in Portland or Rock Creek Park in DC. Perhaps I really am an exploiter, but I see little harm in promoting the sport I love."

        Really? Where in this contest do you "practice and encourage thoughtful, deliberate use of our natural resources". You don't. Not. One. Word.

        As for the "I don't see an issue with sending…blah blah". Well, you're NOT "sending a few more runners". You're asking people to post, without any limitation or caution, the "best" trails in their cities. You don't say, "I'm only looking for well known public trails." You don't say, "And be aware that any trail information you post will be copied and reposted all over the Internet, and may open that trail access info up to lots of other user types including mountain bikers, 4wheelers, picnicking day hikers, etc, so only post well known public trails, please."

        You don't say any of those things.

        The stupidest thing you said: "If being on the trails is such a bad thing, perhaps those of us who are already using them, should stop using them as well."

        You are being completely disingenuous, so I'll help you out.

        Being on the trails actually DOES take a toll on them, which is why we ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO CONTACT THEIR LOCAL TRAIL GROUPS AND VOLUNTEER TO HELP ON TRAIL MAINTENANCE DAYS. Is this a concept that is new to you? A stunning side effect of trail maintenance days is that IT INTRODUCES NEW RUNNERS TO THE SPORT BY GIVING THEM A WAY TO MEET THE LOCAL RUNNERS, which is something you say you " most about the sport."

        So why don't you drop the part about people publishing trail information, and instead focus on publishing contact info for the local trail group, hmmm? Noting you are doing in this "win a pair of shoes" contest is focused on any of the things you claim you love about the sport. Indeed, your number one item in your "contest" is "tell me about your best running areas", as you completely bypass all the local runner groups that build and maintain those trails.

        I think that the most honest thing you may have actually said is the following: "Perhaps I really am an exploiter.."

        Yes. If you continue to operate with the approach you've taken, which completely marginalizes the local groups and tries to establish a "Best Trails in 50 Cities", which is what I really think you are after, you truly are an exploiter.

        If you are not an exploiter, you would modify you contest to be focused on the people of Ultra running and the local groups, and drop the attempt to establish a "Best Trails in 50 Cities" website.

        That is my take.

        1. Bryon Powell

          I've encouraged trail volunteerism in previous, have written articles about trail running groups in certain areas and will be publishing a more comprehensive list in the future, and have published many articles by myself and others encouraging encourage thoughtful, deliberate use of our natural resources. I do not and will not make any apologies for spreading general information about trails.

          I'm not going to respond to your individual points because it's clear that we're talking past one another and not having a conversation. Sorry about that.

          1. Greg

            Dude, I'm actually quoting you and am not in the least "talking past you". You, however, really should think about what you're trying to actually do. I think you're clearly trying to be exploitive. That will not work with the Ultra community, so good luck with that.

            1. Bryon Powell

              Unfortunately, I can't change the contest ex post facto nor can I dwell on this at the moment. I do, however, sincerely hope that you will find material on iRunFar in the next few months that demonstrate the value I see in community and stewardship. While the exchange was unpleasant, I do appreciate being challenged. Really.

              Happy trails,

    2. mlebow

      I completely understand your "why". Unfortunately we in an urban area such as NYC have a different battle. I live and do most of my trail running in Staten Island which is part of NYC. Over the years thousands of acres of woods have been knocked down and turned into homes. We have one last Oasis which is the Staten Island Greenbelt. The Greenbelt is just over 2800 acres with miles upon miles of great single track and terrain. The supporters of the Greenbelt mostly between the ages of 60 and 80 are not as energetic as they use to be. Not many people know about or use the trail system even though it is accessible but public transportation from Manhattan and Staten Island itself has a population of close to 500,000. Just yesterday I spent 3+ hours in the trails and did not come across another trail user the whole time. Which was a great experience but the reality is if people, trail runners and others don’t start using and supporting this great park it to will soon be homes. So in a major city or urban area I feel there are some different issues and I am thankful that this is being done. We need to keep as much green space in the urban environment as possible and that can only be done with supportive active user groups. Happy Trails..

      1. Greg


        I understand the problem you are facing, and I agree with you completely: Green spaces must be preserved, and in a place like NYC, it is critical to have those spaces be known to local people, used by them, and supported by them.

        Given what you've described, I have an idea for you: Go to you closest large running shoes specialty store, and have them sponsor and promote the first Staten Island 50K on your trails. For NYC, which has one of the largest Marathons in the world, you have no shortage of long distance runners…many of whom would love a chance to try out trail running in a local venue. One 50K held there would be enough to introduce the area to a large enough core group of runners to rejuvenate interest in the area, I'd bet.

        You could even do it yourself: You charge a small amount of money for an entrance fee, buy enough HEED, gels, S-caps and water jugs to staff 8 aide (one every 4 miles) stations. If you made the course an out-and-back, you'd only need 4 aide stations. Keep it cheap, focus on the self reliance aspects of trail running (to distinguish it from Marathons..i.e. bring handheld water bottles or backpack hydration), set generous cut-off times and have at it. Do it in the spring while it's cool to minimize chance of heat issues.

        That's what I'd do. Cheers ;-)

        1. mlebow

          Hey Greg you should be part of the team. We are in the process of doing just that. Currently have a 6 hour individual or relay team event scheduled on a 3 1/2 mile course in a 300 acre section on May 22, 2011 and a 25K in the Greenbelt on December 10, 2011. Also a 10k and two 5Ks to get some buy in from the local road runners club. Thank you for your input hope we can get you out here. A day in the woods and a night in the big city..

          See you in the trails..

  19. Jen

    Boulder should be separated from Denver…The distance from Denver to Boulder is the same as Denver to CO Springs and all the ultra runners train in Boulder, not Denver. (I'm from Boulder, we like to distinguish ourselves from Denver)

    1. Bryon Powell

      Boulder is awesome. I enjoy visiting, running, eating, hanging out, and whatever else in Boulder. I visit Boulder, not Denver. I hear you on it being a separate place for a multitude of reasons, but it easily falls within the radius we're looking for with regard to major cities.

      One big difference between Boulder and Colorado Springs is that Boulder is 1/6th the size of Denver while Colorado Springs is 2/3rds the size of Denver. Any arbitrary distinction? Perhaps, but aren't most distinctions. ;-)

  20. Meghan

    Greg, your commentary here is disappointing. From one website article, you make sweeping judgments about both Bryon's character the and the purpose of this article. You arrived here with an already-created opinion, rather than an open mind for discussion.

    Since you don't know Bryon, you don't know that he lives a "green" life, and pretty close to the extreme end of the "green" spectrum. That is, having a small impact on the environment informs most of Bryon's life decisions. As a an example, Bryon recently moved to a pedestrian's town to, in part, decrease his footprint on the Earth.

    Since you don't interact in real life with Bryon either, you also don't know that he talks about the dilemma of exploitation versus responsible enjoyment of wild places by trail runners, specifically, and all wild place users, in general, with frequency. For instance, in a recent social outing, I participated in a conversation with Bryon about places in North America where races of any size shouldn't take place because of their environmental sensitivity.

    And, finally, because you neither dialogue with Bryon professionally nor have read iRunFar in full, you also don't know that the dilemma/debate over wild place exploitation/enjoyment is one that affects his decisions on what to and to not write about and post. For example, see contributor Dakota Jones's piece on green running and previous posts that discuss the importance of trail runners taking care of the places they run. Also as an example, there is much that could be written by Bryon and his contributors that you don't see because Bryon has made the conscious choice to not share specific information that might impact certain trails or trail systems negatively (Check out the Yosemite trail running article, for example, and what you won't see are directions to Yosemite's sensitive ecosystem areas because Bryon is fiercely protective of those.).

    I think most of the iRunFar community would agree that this is a place for thoughtful discussion and debate, and that this isn't a place for uninformed judgment. We can and should, for certain, learn from each other. But your comments do not promote that wide-open atmosphere for exchange, nor are they reasonably informed about the reality of both Bryon and this website.

    Meghan Hicks

  21. Evan

    Old thread. Very interesting thread. I greatly enjoyed reading about the different cities and trails that this country offers. I agree regarding the negative potential of overpopulation of the trails, but believe that those who walk, run or bike the trails for any significant period of time will be more and more compelled to see them maintained.

    Killing this thread and making the original author out to be a heathen was pretty outrageous. Greg, you sound like a pompous jackass. I for one believe that the more exposure most people have to the beauty that's out there the more compelled they become to see it preserved.

    One other point. I welcome any takers to attempt to "exploit" some of the trails I run on in Park City, Utah. Please go ahead. You start at 6800 feet and on many of the trails you work your way up to 8500 feet or so before you get much flat terrain time. It becomes exclusionary by the physical entrance fee. 20 to 40 minutes of running uphill before you actually get to the trail your aiming for isn't for most, but I welcome all takers. By the time a person can pay to play, their outlook will be well on the way to appreciation or it will be a short lived attempt at "exploitation." There are just easier targets to exploit.

    Cheers all…

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