Destination Dirt Goes on the Road!

[Editor’s Note: This summer, writer and runner Reese Ruland is taking iRunFar’s Destination Dirt series on the road. She’ll be traveling around the US and Europe to run in, learn about, and document her experiences in future articles. The following is her introductory article for this project. Stay tuned because she needs your help!]

The most bizarre thing happened to me the other day. I don’t know if it’s because of all the kombucha I drank or the stress from dealing with Telluride Mountain Run permits, but boy was it odd. I’ll start from the beginning.

I was fidgeting on my couch, hemming and hawing about races, camping trips, and my schedule, when all of a sudden Lao-Tzu and John Muir show up at my door step. I know what you are thinking, “Reese! That’s impossible! You don’t even have a doorstep. You have a patio.” Okay, well, that may be the case, and you might have caught me in a slight exaggeration, but the main point is, Lao and John are knocking on my door. Naturally, I invited them in, offered tea, and ushered them to please have a seat on my couch. So there we were just sitting around like old friends. We got to talking, the normal formalities at first, but I had to know why they were at my house. The following conversation is a rough account of what happened:

Reese: I didn’t know you two hung out together! And I would have never guessed you’d be in Denver. What brings you to my neck of the woods?

John: Well Reese, you see, I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

Reese: Oh. Yes. I think I get it. And Lao, may I call you that? What brings you here?

Lao: Silence is a source of Great Strength.

I could tell I wouldn’t be getting a whole lot of answers from Lao.

Reese: Lovely. Well since I have to two of you here, maybe you could help me with some ideas for my summer. You see, having summers off is certainly a blessing, but it can also be a bit of a burden for someone like me. Namely, someone who has a hard time sitting still for very long. As the daylight steadily increases, so, too, does my anxiousness about how I am going to fill my time. Sure I have some trips planned, but I feel as though this gift of summer is something I shouldn’t waste by idling in some mountain town by myself. And if you really think about it, because I don’t work over the summer, my only job is figuring out how to spend my time well. Any ideas on how to fill my time?

Lao: Act without expectation. If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

John: In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks. That being said, to ask me whether I could endure to live without friends is absurd. It is easy enough to live out of material sight of friends, but to live without human love is impossible.

Reese: I think I see what you two are eluding to! Yes, the mountains are enjoyable, but perhaps galavanting in them is not an end in itself. Sharing experiences, be it time in the mountains or elsewhere, is satisfying on a deeper level.

Lao: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Reese: Excellent insight, Lao.

After a short while, it was obvious that the two of them were growing restless. John was staring towards the west out the back window, visibly yearning for the peaks. Lao had stopped stroking his white beard and a contemplative look glazed over his face.

Reese: Well, I suppose the two of you are busy men and likely have others to impart your wisdom upon. Any idea of where you are headed next?

John: I wish I knew where I was going. Doomed to be carried of the spirit into the wilderness, I suppose. I wish I could be more moderate in my desires, but I cannot, and so there is no rest.

Lao: A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

And with that being said, they departed, leaving me dumbfounded but inspired. I immediately started brainstorming, making lists of things I want to do this summer:

  • see new towns,
  • meet more trail runners, and
  • get to know the trail running community better.

But which towns? How do I immerse myself in a foreign community? Which brings me to the REAL point of this article. I need the help of the iRunFar readers. In an effort to be a trail running investigative journalist, I’m asking iRunFar readers to show me their town, their local trails, and introduce me to the local running community. By taking part in this, I will feature the town in iRunFar articles throughout the summer. Are there any limitations on where I can travel to? I haven’t thought that far. Someone wise once told me to “let things flow naturally.” So that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. Pitch your town and we’ll go from there.

Notes and a Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Let’s hear it. Why should Reese visit your town and write a Destination Dirt article about it? Do you have good singletrack and an even better culture?
  • Make sure to leave your name, email address (It won’t be published, but Reese might need to contact you!), and answers to the previous questions in the comments section. Give Reese a good pitch on your town and she might just turn up to trail run with you!
  • In addition to creating Destination Dirt articles for iRunFar, Reese will be documenting some of her voyage’s experiences on her personal blog, Odi et Amo.

There are 75 comments

  1. Pete

    While there may not be the biggest community of runners lake tahoe sure has some of the most spectacular trails one can explore. The tahoe rim trail. The western states trail or at least the start of it. Just down the hill is auburn which is also chalk full of great trail running. Lets not forget the desolation wilderness either which contains lake after lake (part of the rim trail and the pct runs through there).

  2. Eric

    Come to Rochester,NY – With some of the best single track in the country – Rochester and the Finger Lakes region is a secret gem in the trail running community – From The Town of Perinton (Trail Town USA) to the shores of Lake ontario – The Rochester region is home to endless miles of trails.

    Check out our site – – – Then check out the running calendar to see how loaded we are with Trail events in this region.

    The Sehgahunda Trail Marathon is here – The 0 SPF Trail 1/2 Marathon is here – Just down the road is the Cayuga 50 which is the USATF championship next year and the regional this year – We have amazing stores in the area that lead group runs introducing people to trails.

    We have events and races taking people off road almost weekly it seems.

    You want fast and flat ? We have it

    You want hilly and long – We have that

    You want technical winding single track with amazing views – – You guessed it – We have that

    In short – when you visit here – You will find a trail almost anywhere you stay – Run some miles with us – then hang out at the trail head and throw back a few cold ones while catching up and laughing at the mud and scratches you picked up along the trail!

    1. Mike

      While in Rochester, you can come check out the inaugural running of Cayuga Trails 50 in Ithaca, NY. Cayuga Trails is what many around here hope to become one of the biggest trail races on the east coast and what better way to immerse yourself into an awesome community of runners than being at an inaugural race.

  3. Sam Winebaum

    Come to Park City. Check out the interactive trail map at Mountain Trails Foundation 350 miles plus of runnable marked and mapped incredible trails within a few miles of downtown. And the Triple Trail Challenge Aug-Sept is a great way to see a lot of the terrain. It keeps growing too. Going to a MTF event this evening and I think that they are going to announce building a new 15-20 mile trail over towards Wasatch County which will effectively extend the Mid Mountain Trail and extensions to about 50 miles

            1. ziel

              here's a suggested tour de oregon in a counter-clockwise-ish motion starting in the far southeast corner: 1. steens mtn.-car camp out in the desert, 2. north to the "Oregon Alps"/willowas where you can run/scramble your brains out around sacajawea and matterhorn in Eagle Cap Wilderness-camp or find a friend in Enterprise, 3. West to Columbia Gorge for more steep climbs in through the woods with killer views and hundreds of waterfalls-stay in Hood River, 4. West to Portland for trails in Forest Park and civilized culture-couch surf with runners optional day trip to Mt. Hood for a day or two up there, 6. west again to the beach for amazing beach and rugged cape trails-stay in Cannon Beach or Seaside, 7. East to the willamette valley to visit towns like McMinnville, Silverton (silver falls state park), Corvallis (Mac Forest/Mary's Peak), and Eugene (Track Town) run with fast and awesome people in all of these places and enjoy the bounty of food, wine, and beer grown and created here, 8. head east into central Oregon to run Smith Rock State Park, trails around/near 3 Sisters-stay in Bend/Sisters with superfast and awesome runners there, 9. head south to Crater Lake/Sky Lakes Wilderness for more trails and views that don't suck-campout, 10. south and west again to Rogue River/Siskyous-stay with entourage of runners in Ashland and enjoy the culture there. that would be an amazing trip. if you want to go up high don't come here first our cascade snow lingers late compared to the rockies.

  4. Eric Schramm

    I think Bryon already posted a DC Destination Dirt a few years ago, so I don't think there's anything to add to it…however, I've been astounded at all of the trails I've discovered in my few years of living in DC. There's a seemingly endless supply within 30-40 minutes of downtown DC in every direction (flat, hilly, rocky, smooth, etc.). So, I guess my point of this post is…if you visit the DC area for some reason, you will be pleasantly surprised! We even have real mountains a short 1 hour drive away!

    1. Reese Ruland

      Eric, before I moved to CO, I went to college in DC for a while and I spent my high school years living in Western Maryland (Williamsport-a mile away from the C&O Canal). I moved away from DC before I became totally immersed in the ultra scene, therefore I never really explored the trails around the area.

      1. Eric Schramm

        Ah, well you'll have to make a trip back to the area at some point now that you've immersed yourself in ultras! The Shenandoah Valley (~1 hour) has some beautiful trails to explore, if you haven't already during your high school years. Or if you've hiked them, now you can run them! Obviously vastly different from CO mountains, but beautiful in a different way. Good luck and enjoy your destination dirt travels!

  5. Mike Grady

    What a great idea Resse! Sounds like you've got a very exciting Summer ahead!

    Nice running into the other day :) see you at GGD30 perhaps

  6. J.Xander

    If you are ever make the trip up to AK you should really check out Anchorage and the surrounding three mountain ranges. Of course, this has to coincide with the snow actually melting off the mountains (which it is not on track to do anytime soon). We truly do have some incredible ridge and mountain runs with a few trails to get to them. Show up in Anchorage, buy some bear spray and post on Ultra Anchorage FB page, we'll take you from there.

        1. Shelby

          If you get up there the first week of July, you can witness first hand Alaska's most famous race, Mt Marathon. It's their vertical K — 3,000 feet of climb in 1.5 miles (and back down) in one of the prettiest places in the world, Seward.

          I will be up in A-town that week running and touring with a couple of friends. Come on up and check the 49th state off yer bucket list…

  7. Lizzy Stefurak

    There was an iRunfar post about trail running in Yosemite a few years ago, but I don't really think it does justice to the park. It doesn't mention any of the best routes (e.g. Tenaya Lake to Happy Isles via the summit of Cloud's Rest, which is only 16 miles!). Plus there is potential for plenty of awesome ultra-distance linkups that are great training for bigger Sierra adventures.

  8. Robbie

    Mt. Hood in oregon is a trail running dream. Also, forest park near downtown portland, oregon, is 5,000 acres and has 70+ miles of trails.

  9. Steve Pero

    Northern New Mexico!

    Come stay at Deb's and my log home, which sits in the Jemez Mountains at 8200' and run our local trails or drive 30 minutes to Los Alamos.

    But don't come the first 2 weeks of July, we'll be at Hardrock ;-) Hey, I know, come to Silverton those two weeks! We'll show you around, you can find us at the Avon Hotel.

  10. Brandon


    You are more than welcomed to come out and visit the Asheville area. I know that there is already a Destination Dirt on the area, but there is a lot out here that isn't in that guide and the Smokies are very close by. You could definitely visit some of the smaller towns that are about an hour away in NC and would be pleasantly surprised at the landscapes and trails. Plenty of 3,000ft+ climbs out here in WNC.

  11. Jasen Boyd

    Burlington Vermont easy access to the Green Mountains, Adirondack Mountains and White Mountains. Glorious Summer days. Trails ranging from easy park trails to beat the hell out of you single track. Loads of local micro breweries for post run refueling as well as easy acces to Ben and Jerry's. LongTrail Running club is the local trail running club add to that a the Vermont 50 and Vermont 100 for historical reference and you have a runners Mecca.

    I'll bet $10 and a six pack of beer you won't here…. Just sayin!

    1. Jasen Boyd

      Oh yeah and I forgot loads of streams and swimming holed to cool off in after/during or before your run. I still bet you won't come here….

  12. lowlandsrunner

    Duluth, MN – Great trails with high volumes of single track, especially Superior Hiking trail, and a handful of trail ultras throughout the year along the north shore of Gitche Gumee. Its low elevation but with plenty of hills and very technical trails.

  13. Eric

    Mike Wolfe and Krissy Moehl were both here and sat down with us for some interviews and group runs both on different trails. Both had nothing but great things to say.

    Cayuga 50 chat
    Krissy Moehl chat
    Mike Wolfe chat:

    So yeah – You could call it a hotspot :) So, when should we pencil you in for? July 20th? 0 SPF? Sure works for us!

    1. Pete

      Well tahoe had a really bad winter so all of the trails are basically fully open at this point. Really anytime before the end of october and the weather is really good. End of June would be a great time as a runner to visit as the western states will be happening then as well. Tahoe is full of hotels and campgrounds. I would recommend dl bliss park for camping as that is near emerald bay and one of hte most spectacular views of tahoe. There is also a few running clubs with facebook pages in the area so may be able to find accomadations without paying for a hotel or campsite. End of June can get busy but I feel like the trails are never to busy around here as most people stick to the lake and boating. I hope this helps.

  14. Andy Mouncey

    Or you could head back over the pond to the old country – Northern England: The Lake District and/or the Yorkshire Dales to be precise and a part of the world where everything is solved over a pot of tea.

    The home of a particular brand of mountain running known as 'fellrunning' – see previous irunfar article – The Bob Graham Round, and the UK's biggest trail 100 miler the Montane Lakeland 100 in early August.

    Or if you're full to the brim with offers for the summer and at a loose end in January, how about something completely different: 270 miles as continuously as possible south to north along England's oldest and greatest long distance trail The Pennine Way. The third edition of The Spine Race will happen January 2014 in the middle of the English winter. Is it a run or an expedition? We're still trying to figure it out…

  15. Dean


    Ice Age Trail- 1000 miles entirely in Wisconsin…'nuff said

    Some races:

    Glacial Trail 50

    The North Face Endurance Challenge- Midwest Regional

    Kettle Moraine 100 Endurance Runs

    Sounds like a great idea….have fun!

    BTW…Everything is solved over beers at one of our many microbrewerys :)

  16. David Robb

    How about running slot canyons in southern Utah. It's a little like if parkour and mountain running had some kind of freakishly fun but disturbing baby. There's nothing like running, scrambling,and often swimming through a dark and narrow slot with a rope and wetsuit on your back. No community, though. I think there's maybe three of us that make a habit of it.

  17. Eric

    Hey Cara! I'm moving to Steamboat next month and I've never even visited before, can you tell me how to find these Wednesday night runs? I'm definitely looking for ways to get involved in the local running community.


  18. Dave T.

    I see many of the usual suspects represented in the comments. Why not try something different? Come and check out Tallahassee, FL and see what northern FL has to offer. We have some excellent trails and an insane amount beautiful sites (including some of the world's best beaches near by). Here is a sampling of what our trails offer:

  19. Francis

    Have you thought about some place completely new? My suggestion is come to Bogotá, Colombia where you'll get to run in te mountains at 8500 ft or more and you'll see terrain you've never seen before?

  20. Ryan

    Central Virginia is a great place to visit and run on trails. We have some great trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains and around the Appalachin Trail.

  21. Cara Marrs

    HI Eric,

    Awesome, you will love it! Go to the Steamboat Springs Running Series website and hit contact director or go to our facebook page and message me, Ill get you dialed in. Its seriously magical right now, everything is so green, creeks roaring, trails starting to open…..

    1. Eric

      Thanks Cara, I've just sent you a message (but Facebook says it's going to an "other" folder so I hope you get it!)

  22. Todd

    Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This area is home to three towns, Comox, Courtenay, and Cumberland. Cumberland's back door offers miles and miles of Pacific Northwest mountainous single track, steep climbs and knarly descents. Strathcona Park is a 25 minute drive away and gives you access to many miles of rugged wilderness single track leading to alpine bliss. It's a real mountain bike mecca, but the running here is second to none, seriously.

  23. Paul Kirsch

    I wanted to invite you to come check out the Mount Washington Valley in New Hampshire. The trail running around here is pretty spectacular, even if the trail runners are outnumbered by the mountain bikers. Tons of very uncrowded trails where you can go miles without seeing another runner or more likely, a hiker.

    Also, if you can plan a stop around July 21st, that's when the US Mountain Running Championships will be taking place at the Cranmore Hill Climb. It's also host to the NACAC Mountain Champs within the same race so we will have teams from Canada and Mexico racing as well. You can check out our area and get a chance to see the best of the best in mountain running competing at the champs- including Max King, Kasie Enman, Morgan Arritola, Glenn Randall and many more.

    Thanks and we hope you can make it.

    -Paul Kirsch, RD of Cranmore Hill Climb and Juniors' Team Manager for the US Mountain Running Team

  24. Steph

    I second what Eric said! I moved to Denver a year ago from the DC area and loved trail running out there. Hook up with Virginia Happy Trails Running Club! Really great people and they do great trail runs all over northern Virginia. I used to run on the Potomac Heritage Trail, which winds along the Potomac River (part of it is the course for NFEC DC), Prince William's Forest, Rosaryville, Bull Run, and Fountainhead Park.

  25. MikeD

    Small running community and even fewer trail running participants, but give Casper, WY a try. On July 27th the Windy City Striders will be hosting the first annual Skunk Hollow Sneaker Chase (8 or 16 mile trail run – register on Ultrasignup). If you are here on a Tuesday, join us for our Tuesday Night Trail runs.

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