The 12 Most Challenging Running Trails In America

Running is one of the most popular means of getting fit for a reason: It gives you a whole body workout, almost anyone can do it, and the only gear you need is yourself.

Today is National Running Day, and in honour of the holiday, we’ve put together a list of the 12 most difficult running trails in the U.S.

Let us know if we missed any.

Double Oak Trail, Pelham, Ala.

Distance: 17 miles

The Double Oak Trail in Pelham, Ala., is a 17-mile loop covering not just beautiful, lush valleys, but many steep, uphill climbs.

The terrain is rocky and has many tree roots emerging from the ground, which make for a tough obstacle course.

Grand Canyon Trails, Coconino, Ariz.

Distance: 42 miles

The elevated temperatures and high altitude can make running along the trails in the Grand Canyon a bit perilous.

But the difficulty of the route is definitely made up for by the beauty of the Canyon views and the bragging rights afterward.

Olmstead Loop Trail at Auburn S.R.A., Cool, Calif.

Distance: 8.6 miles

The Olmstead Loop Trail climbs up and down a number of steep canyons and is laborious to manoeuvre, especially when the trail is muddy. The Olmstead Loop is the longest trail in the Auburn State Recreation Area, a park also known for the K2 training hill, where top runners train.

Lynch Canyon Trails, Solano County, Calif.

Distance: 9.8 miles

The Lynch Canyon Trails have been called the 'toughest trail run in Solano County.'

With 9.8 total miles of trail, the paths around Lynch Canyon are home to the Lynch Canyon Trail Runs, which include 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon races every June.

Loch Vale Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo.

Distance: 6 miles

The run around Loch Vale isn't a long one--it's only six miles round-trip--but it starts at an altitude of 9,240 feet and climbs as high as 10,210 feet.

The altitude can make it a chilly run, and gets even colder in the winter.

Torreya State Park Trails, Bristol, Fla.

Distance: 14.5 miles

The trails at Torreya State Park offer some of the most aggressive trails to run. Those who choose to make the journey find themselves among a series of bluffs and ravines, but the path affords them an inspiring view of the Apalachicola River at Logan's Bluff.

Kalalu Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

Distance: 11 miles

Surefooted runners will love the steep trails and crumbly paths of the Kalalu Trail. The trail is tough and, naturally, somewhat dangerous, so runners shouldn't let the breathtaking beauty of the trail's surroundings distract them from their focus.

Ni-Bthaska-Ke Trail, Louisville, Neb.

Distance: 12 miles

The Ni-Bthaska-Ke Trail at Platte River State Park is known as the toughest trail run in the Midwest. Not only do runners face steep ridges and rocky paths, but part of the trail crosses a creek while another part stretches across some barbed wire. This trail hosts a 12K run each year.

Pisgah National Forest Trails, Brevard, N.C.

Distance: Trails over 512,758 acres

Only accessible by foot, the trails are rocky and steep in Pisgah National Forest.

Those who choose to hike or run the paths need to have good balance.

Conestoga Trail System, Lancaster County, Penn.

Distance: 10 miles

Runners of the Conestoga Trail System, which is made up of the Horse-Shoe and Mason-Dixon trails, in Lancaster County, Penn., call this a '10-mile monster.'

With 3,000 feet to climb and fearsome hills, those who conquer it wear the accomplishment like a badge of honour.

Frozen Head State Park Trails, Wartburg, Tenn.

Distance: 80 miles

Frozen Head State Park boasts more than 80 miles of trails over rugged, mountainous land, with the shortest trail being .6 miles and the longest being 15 miles. These trails are home to the Barkley Marathons--a series of 60- and 100-mile 'fun runs' in and around Frozen Head, which are known as the toughest trail running competitions in the world.

Old Rag Mountain Trails, Shenandoah Mountain, Va.

Distance: 9 miles

Runners of the trails at Old Rag Mountain do a lot more than running. The exhaustive paths require runners to leap over boulders and rock formations in the so-called 'rock scramble' part of the trail, which uses a whole new set of muscles.

Here's proof that anyone can run.

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