IFor those of you looking for new trails to explore, here are some great routes where I've been doing some heavy miles, both in the local NoCal area and elsewhere. I hope you take the time to try out some of these inspirational runs.
Pacific Crest Trail - Alpine Meadows to Tahoe City: I like the entrance from Alpine Meadows. It's an uphill fire road beginning on Snow Crest Rd in Alpine Meadows. From there take all left turns at any Y sections in the trail. 7 1/2 miles later you will be in Tahoe City. It's a mostly shaded trail, and some rocky sections, but mostly very easy beautiful terrain.
CALISTOGA, NAPA, AMERICAN CANYON, VALLEJO, FAIRFIELD, VACAVILLE
Mt. St. Helena, Calistoga: Park at the Main Park (noted on the link here) for a 10.6 round trip trail run. The run starts with about a mile of wiggly, steeper, single track, which then pops out onto a steady, runnable fire road. http://napavalleystateparks.org/robert-louis-stevenson-state-park/
Palisades, Calistoga: Park at the trail head at the intersection of Silverado Trail and Hwy 29 for a 21.2 mile out-and-back trail run (or less, depending on your preference) that turns around at the Main Park where the Mt. St Helena trail run begins. If you're feeling heroic, you could merge the Palisades run and the Mt. St. Helena section for a massive 32 miler! http://napavalleystateparks.org/robert-louis-stevenson-state-park/
Skyline Park, Napa: Park for free at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park (near Napa Valley Community College, off of Streblow Street). The trail run begins on what's called the River-to-Ridge trail, heading east from the parking lot towards Napa Valley Hwy. Cross at the stop light and continue heading east on the trail towards the park. Best to print the map from this link, as there are numerous trails. We've combined loops to run anywhere from 15-20 miles in the park. http://www.ridgetrail.org/skyline-wilderness-park-and-napa-solano-ridge-trail
Boethe National Park, Calistoga: Can you believe it? We haven't run this yet. But we plan to run it in the near future and we hear good things. Here's the link: http://napavalleystateparks.org/robert-louis-stevenson-state-park/
Lynch Canyon Open Space & Hiddenbrooke Open Space, Vallejo/Fairfield: This is our home turf! Park at the entrance of Lynch Canyon or in the carpool lot running along Hwy 80 near the Hiddenbrooke water fountain. You can link together trails in the Lynch Canyon park for a 10-15 mile trail run, and if you're willing to run 2 miles of road between the Lynch Canyon Park to the Hiddenbrooke trail system off of Hiddenbrooke Parkway, you can easily add another 10 miles in the Hiddenbrooke Open Space. The map at this link shows you how to link up both trails and pile on the miles. http://www.ridgetrail.org/lynch-canyon-open-space
Lake Lagoon Park, Vacaville: Park for free just before entering park or enter the park for a small fee. There are several trails that can be linked up for up to a 10-15 mile trail run. And don't forget to crush the big 2 mile hill climb and descend on the single track. http://alltrails.com/trail/us/california/lagoon-valley-park-mtb-trail
San Francisco Bay Trail, American Canyon: Park at the trail head just off of Eucalyptus Drive. This is the perfect tempo training trail. The trails are absolutely flat with serene wetland views! We've run up to 14 miles in the general area but the trail goes on for miles. http://www.traillink.com/trail/san-francisco-bay-trail-%28carquinez-strait-vallejo-napa-river%29.aspx and http://www.yelp.com/map/napa-river-and-bay-trail-american-canyon
Mt. Diablo: Depending on where you begin your trail run, generally there is free parking. Numerous trails for miles throughout the mountain. And, one long winding 11 mile paved road from the Ranger station to the top! http://www.savemountdiablo.org/activities_hikes.html
Marin Headlands, Sausalito/Mill Valley: Depending on where you want to run, we usually park at Tennessee Valley and begin running from there. There are too many trails to name and they go on for miles. But note, a great short run is from the parking lot heading west down the hill to the ocean - about 4 miles round trip. Another notable trail run is to the top of Mt. Tam! Check out the link and feel free to email us for more specifics. http://www.nps.gov/goga/marin-headlands.htm
China Camp, San Rafael: We've run many of the trails in this park. If you like shorter, steeper trails, this is for you. The link here gives you an idea of how to plan your route and from there where to park. http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/466/files/chinacampfinalweblayout122809.pdf
Angel Island, Tiburon: You'll need to take the ferry from Tiburon to access these trails! This beautiful island has numerous trails linked with a paved road circling the island. Here is a link to more information about the park and ferry schedules: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=468 and the trail map: http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/468/files/AngelIsland2.pdf
PALM DESERT / PALM SPRINGS / COACHELLA VALLEY AREA
Joshua Tree National Park: Numerous trails to run in this park! Bring lots of water and get ready to run in sand. We've run the Boyscout Trail, The Lost Palms trail (where we lost ourselves down a wash to nowhere), and sumitted Ryan Mountain. So much more to explore! This link provides maps for all the trails in the park: http://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/maps.htm
Bump and Grind Trail: A 3 mile trail loop, that can be expanded with connecting trails. This is a great short trail for hill intervals and for bombing the downhill! Head to your right for a two mile uphill run for 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Parallel street parking is free along the side street in front of the trail-head. http://alltrails.com/trail/us/california/bump-and-grind-trail
Tram Way Paved Trail: From the visitor center at the corner of Hwy 111 and Tram Way, where you can park on the side of the road, it is an unrelenting 4 mile up hill run to the parking lot of the rotating-floor Tram ride up to Mount Saint Jucinto. And here is a link to information about the Tram to the top: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Springs_Aerial_Tramway
The island has a vast trail system running from one end to the other! We've run most of it and rate it as a "can't miss" training ground. How far you can run is limited only by how much fuel you can carry. You will need a park permit to run or mountain bike outside of Avalon. Beware of really steep hills near Avalon, but make sure to enjoy the spectacular views once you're on top of the ridge-line. https://www.catalinaconservancy.org/userfiles/files/maps/TCT.pdf
LAGUNA / CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK
This trail system has at least 30 miles of looping trails. We've run up to 15 miles into Laguna and back. There are lots of steeps and many spectacular ocean views. http://crystalcovestatepark.com/hiking-info/crystal-cove-map-handout-10.pdf
Paved trail system runs all along the city bay in either direction with beautiful views of the ocean. If you're not breathing too hard, you'll spot sea lions and if you're really lucky, a spouting whale!
This paved trail system runs all along Morro Bay in both directions. One direction leads you to the Rock, and the other into the State park where you'll find a few miles of trails and a wooden bridge out into the bay.
Carpenteria State Beach / Bluffs Trail: Runs along the ocean and the Amtrak train lines for a couple of miles. Racing the train is loads of fun and an alternative to interval training. Great little warm up run that can be expanded by running through the adjoining neighborhood. http://www.hikespeak.com/trails/carpinteria-seal-sanctuary-overlook-via-carpinteria-bluffs-nature-preserve/
Mount Tremblant National Park, Quebec: Beautiful forest trails, well manicured and marked. You'll feel like you are in an enchanted gnome forest with all the great colors of mushrooms and moss growing on the rocks. You can run for hours by linking up many of the trails on this mountain. http://www.tremblant.ca/~/media/59b4cebdedb84159a1ec0ff878512ef3.pdf
Banff National Forest, Lake Louise: Incredible views with Lake Louise in the center and the ice-capped mountains in the background. The trails can get thick with hikers and tourists, so head out early! http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/randonee-hiking/lakelouise.aspx#paradise
Nuria Valley, Pyrenees: See our blog on this website describing this trail run in-depth. http://www.valldenuria.cat/website_valldenuria/eng/senderisme.asp
Ribes de Freser: See our blog on this website describing this trail run. http://www.valldenuria.cat/website_valldenuria/eng/senderisme.asp
Mallorca: Amazing trail system for trail running, hiking and cycling on this island. Our experience for running was mostly on paved roads in Alcudia and Port de Pollenca. The rest of our time was spent cycling the western coast through small quaint towns and amazing Mediterranean Sea views.