Top places to run this fall on the East Coast

This fall, forget the treadmill and go out and explore. Running is one of the best ways to sightsee. With the fresh, crisp air and vibrant colors of autumn, there are many places to adventure—even in your own backyard.

From city landscapes and historical landmarks to lush trails and scenic coastal views, lace up and hit the road running at one of these top spots on the East Coast according to Strava.

The Charles River, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Charles River in Boston
You won’t regret this run after taking in the scenic views. Photo: Danica Chang/Shutterstock

The Charles River is a 17-mile running path that extends from Royal Sonesta Boston and Boston’s Museum of Science 9 miles upstream to Watertown, Massachusetts. Long or short, there are numerous bridges you can take to custom design the length of your run.

You will be treated to spectacular views of Harvard University and MIT on the Cambridge side of the river; Harvard Business School, the Charles River Esplanade and Hatch Shell on the Boston side; and several beautiful university boathouses. Find at every turn a fresh burst of foliage with the trees and plantings along the river.

Central Park Loop, Manhattan, New York

Central Park in the Fall
City skyline and fall leaves make this one spectacular run. Photo: Songquan Deng/Shutterstock

Any day of the week, any time of day, you will find runners logging miles in Central Park. It’s a popular New York City run, especially in the fall. There is low humidity, cooler temperatures and classic fall leaves lining the running paths.

Short or long distances, the Central Park Loop alternates hills and flat terrain. There are iconic landmarks to take in, easy access to restrooms and other runners to keep you motivated.

Start near the Central Park Zoo and head toward the American Museum of Natural History. Continue to Central Park North, past the Museum of the City of New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, finishing back at the zoo.

The Hudson River Run, New York City, New York

Hudson River Run
The sunrises and sunsets won’t disappoint on a run. Photo: mandritoiu/Shutterstock

Looking for something a little less crowded, but still want to take in the city views? The Hudson River Run goes from the Bronx all the way down to Battery Park and is accessible from nearly anywhere.

This out-and-back loop makes it fun and easy to pile on the miles during a fall morning or evening run—best time is sunset. Highlights include the Statue of Liberty, Chelsea Piers, the USS Intrepid and the George Washington Bridge—and the famous Hudson River itself, of course.

National Mall, Washington, D.C.

National Mall Run
Sightsee and run at the same time. It’s a win-win situation. Photo: S.Borisov/Shutterstock

The National Mall offers a landmark-packed 3-mile route. Begin at the Smithsonian Castle and run down the Mall (away from the U.S. Capitol) toward the Lincoln Memorial. Along the way, you’ll pass the Freer Gallery of Art, the Department of Agriculture (and its wonderful garden), the Washington Monument, the WWII Monument and the Korean War Memorial.

Run up the steps and marvel at Honest Abe, then head around the building to take in the fall colors across the Potomac River from Arlington Cemetery. Return up the mall, passing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the mostly hidden Einstein statue outside the National Academy of Sciences, the White House Ellipse, the new National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History. End at the National Museum of Natural History. Talk about sightseeing!

Standing Stone Trail, Central Pennsylvania

SST Route
The views of the SST in Pennsylvania are worth the grueling climbs. Photo: Courtesy of Standing Stone Trail

Winning the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 2016 Trail of the Year award, the Standing Stone Trail (SST) in Central Pennsylvania is a must-run for visitors and locals. It’s 84 miles of well-marked paths and scenic views, and connects two well-known trails in the state: the Mid State Trail to the north and the Tuscarora Trail to the south.

With this level of terrain variety, there’s so much to see and run along the way. You can trot on some of the most technical singletrack trails, then be treated to fast and smooth sections before climbing 1,500 feet to another adventure.

The most popular spot along the trail is called Thousand Steps, where you take historic stone steps to a former quarry, but the SST will wear you down with several thousand more steps along the way. You can easily see over 20 miles across the vast stretches of woods that light up with the colors of autumn.

Back Cove Trail, Portland, Maine

Back Cove Trail in Maine
Fast and flat make this a great fall run. Photo: Corey Templeton/Flickr

It’s one of the oldest and most popular places to run in town. Offering wonderful skyline views of the city, this 3.5-mile loop gives runners a mostly flat and fast run, with a mild incline around the I-295 portion.

Avid goers love this urban trail because of the waterfront run, cleanliness, easily accessible restrooms and mile markers, which are great for speed work.

Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois

Lincoln Park Run
Feel energized after this city run in Lincoln Park. Photo: Jonathan/Flickr

Lincoln Park has a lot going on, and it’s certainly beautiful. One of the best parts about running through this area is the Lincoln Park Zoo. It’s free to enter, so loop around while you check out some cool wildlife.

As you continue to run through the park, head along the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool and North Pond Nature Sanctuary for some Zen running. The running paths are lined with lush trees, making you forget for a moment that you’re in a bustling city. The skyline views surrounding the park are breathtaking too.

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