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10 Urban Parks Around the World That are Great for Runners

10 Urban Parks Around the World That are Great for Runners

If you’re an urban dweller, chances are that you have a green space to escape to for a dose of the outdoors, and if you’re an urban runner then you really have an appreciation for those spaces, especially if there are trails. Even if you like running on pavement, there’s something entirely different about being on a trail, breathing in fresh air instead of exhaust and dodging the occasional off-leash dog as opposed to sidewalks full of pedestrians. A run in an urban park can certainly be your daily dose of oasis.

The same thing goes when you’re traveling. Even while enjoying a metropolis, you might crave a run or a walk in the park. And if so, here are 10 cities that have what you need.

1. Forest Park – Portland, Oregon

With more than 80 miles of trails, it’s no wonder that an escape to Forest Park can immediately make you feel like you’ve completely left the city. It’s popular with trail runners, and if you’re up for a real challenge, you can take on the 30 mile Wildwood Trail, or break it up into a more manageable section.

2. Central Park – New York City, New York

If you’re a runner, you go to visit New York City and you don’t even get in a short run at Central Park, then you’ve done something wrong. Everyone should run here at least once in their lives. There is a lot of pavement in Central Park, but you can definitely find a trail, like Bridle Path.

3. Bois de Boulogne – Paris, France

Join the other active Parisians and head to Bois de Boulogne for a city escape. On sunny days, especially weekends, this is where the locals go to run, walk, bike and picnic. It’s a nice change from the fast pace of daily Parisian life, and in a city that’s not often known for its running culture, you’ll find a lot of like-minded souls.

4. Stanley Park – Vancouver, Canada

Welcoming 8 million people every year, Stanley Park is Vancouver’s green oasis. The park’s 120 miles of trails give you a good dose of the British Columbia environment without leaving town (although you should do that too). If you want to run on a paved route, there’s the Seawall path which extends around the perimeter of the park and back into town.

5. Presidio – San Francisco, California

A lot of trail runners will head out of the city and off to destinations like Marin Country for trails, but there are dirty runs to be had right in the heart of San Francisco. The Presidio is full of trails, with more than 24 miles of routes, and you’ll get plenty of good views of the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge.

6. Phoenix Park – Dublin, Ireland

Phoenix Park, with its 1,750 acres, happens to be one of Europe’s biggest green spaces, and it’s covered in trails. The park is enclosed by an 11 kilometer perimeter wall, which means you’re truly sectioned off from city life.

7. Griffith Park – Los Angeles, California

Sure you’re in Los Angeles, a huge city that can often feel very far removed from the natural world, but there’s also Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America. The trails will take you into the Santa Monica mountains and give you a completely different feel of the area. It’s also home to the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon if you’re in the mood to travel for an organized running event.

8. Hampstead Heath – London, United Kingdom

With its sprawling metropolis, it can be nice to have a green refuge in London. For a lot of urban runners, Hampstead Heath is exactly that, close to the city and full of trails. Plus there are hills, which is good if you need a workout.

9. Barton Creek Greenbelt – Austin, Texas

Beyond all the hiking and running that you can take on, there are swimming holes, and what better way to end a hard trail run then a dip in the water? If that’s what you’re in the mood for, you’ll want to plan time to visit Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin.

10. Rock Creek Park, Washington D.C.

Once you’ve seen all the national monuments, it’s time to explore a more natural side of D.C. There’s a big running community here and it can be often found in Rock Creek Park. There are more than 20 miles in this park, which happens to be one of the oldest federal parks in the country.

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Photo Credits: Images: Anna Brones, Charley Lhasa, Andrea Anastaskis, cakeordeath, Eugene Kim, Tobias Abel, Rachel, Linda Hartley, Brandon Turner, Trail Voice

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12:15PM PDT on Aug 23, 2014

Yes, let all of us travel over x amount of miles to get to these parks...

1:18PM PDT on May 11, 2014

I'm more of a cyclist. I'd probably knock the runners over :)

1:32PM PDT on May 10, 2014

Shame it was too concentrated on the US. It doesn't even list the best places in Paris or London too, they would be the Jardin de Luxembourg & Hyde Park.

7:07AM PDT on May 10, 2014

I agree, Dennis R. and Stephen W.; the title falsely advertises itself as '10 Urban Parks Around the World,' since only two continents are represented. Either the title should have reflected that, or the article should have been less centric.

As a runner living in a rural area, I would be loathe to run in most urban environments unless I was there for an extended period because of the poor air quality in most cities. I understand the air in the parks is often better, and for those living in the city it isn't always practical or even environmentally friendly to drive outside the cities they live in. But as a visitor, I'd probably stick to walking, which would allow me more latitude to explore unfamiliar parks, anyway.

I do all of my running on unpaved trails, the more rugged and less traveled, the better. A couple of times I've surprised deer that froze while I ran right past them so close I could have reached out and touched them. Needless to say, they surprised me, as well. Once I ran into a badger, which I fortunately saw before I had gotten too close. It was in the middle of the trail, feeding on some large rodent it had killed. The badger made an advance at me--probably thinking I was there to steal its meal--and I ran off back the way I came! You don't want to mess with a badger! Raccoons are another animal encountered to which I give a wide berth. I've also been attacked by Canadian geese in the spring; they get very aggressive when they are raising their young i

6:17AM PDT on May 10, 2014

I agree with Dennis R. Quite frankly, I don't think Anna gets to travel much out of the U.S. and/or doesn't do her "investigation" of urban parks much justice. Oh, along with omitting "Africa, Asia, and much of Europe" she neglected Australia and New Zealand (amongst others) some of whose cities have some really special urban and wilderness parks within their bounds.

6:08AM PDT on May 10, 2014

Good to know thank you

4:17AM PDT on May 10, 2014

Thank you for this interesting article

3:13PM PDT on May 9, 2014


2:57PM PDT on May 9, 2014


2:55PM PDT on May 9, 2014

Wonderful, thanks for sharing.

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