These Are the Best Running Trails (You'll Forget You're Even Exercising)

Updated 08/16/17
Jasmine Blocker

We know we should find time to exercise every week, if not every day, but when you're in a gym rut, it can be tough to muster the willpower. After all, when you go to the same gym and do the same workout every time, it's easy to get complacent. If you've skipped your last few sessions, follow athlete and U.S. Olympic trials qualifier Jasmine Blocker's lead, and head outdoors. When she's not racing on the track, Blocker trades the stadium for nature and tests her endurance on running trails in New York, Washington, and New Orleans.

Beautiful scenery isn't the only bonus. One study revealed that people who run outdoors expend more energy than those on a treadmill, even if the distance is the same. Austrian researchers also discovered that prolonged brisk hikes provide a greater boost in mental well-being than sweating indoors—go figure.

Ready to change up your workout routine? Blocker shares her pick of the five most beautiful running trails in the U.S.

Lake Chelan, Washington

The Trail: Located in Stehekin, a small community in Chelan County, Washington, this hike is a stunning way to explore the mountainous terrain. The 17.2-mile hike is near the North Cascades National Park, making it a must for those living in Seattle or Vancouver.

Level of Difficulty: Advanced.

Pro Tip: Blocker likes to finish her hike at the lake, pictured above. "[It has an] amazing view of the mountain landscape and the clear blue water along the shore of Lake Chelan," she tells MyDomaine.

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Van Cortland Park, New York

The Trail: This 14-mile path is a great option for New Yorkers. Located in the Bronx, the 1146-acre park is the city's third-largest green space, providing some much-needed respite from skyscrapers.

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate. 

Pro Tip: Want to incorporate some sprints into your workout? "It's equipped with a 400m track for speed work, too," says Blocker.

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St. Charles Trolley Line, New Orleans

The Trail: "One of the few soft-surface running paths in New Orleans," says Blocker, this short 5.5-mile path traces the St. Charles Trolley Line in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Level of Difficulty: Beginner.

Pro Tip: Keep your gaze up—you don't want to miss the scenery on this run. "Some of the most beautiful and historic homes in New Orleans are along this route," she points out.

Central Park Reservoir Loop, NY

The Trail: You can't look past Central Park for beautiful running trails in New York City. Blocker recommends the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir within Central Park from 85th street to 96th street.

Level of Difficulty: Beginner.

Pro Tip: The path is less than two miles, so it's "great for multiple loops and faster reps."

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Audubon Park Loop, New Orleans

The Trail: Another short track, this two-mile loop in New Orleans, Louisiana, is ideal for multiple reps. 

Level of Difficulty: Beginner. 

Pro Tip: Blocker calls it: "This is the most beautiful park in New Orleans," she says—a must while you're in the city. 

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What's your favorite running trail? Share your tips with us in the comments. 

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