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The Runner’s Guide to North Carolina: Best Routes, Parks, and Scenic Spots

The Runner's Guide to North Carolina: Best Routes, Parks, and Scenic Spots The Runner’s Guide to North Carolina: Best Routes, Parks, and Scenic Spots www.walkjogrun.net

North Carolina’s diverse landscapes make it a haven for runners seeking scenic routes, challenging terrains, and community-driven atmospheres. From the mountainous trails of Asheville to the historic sites of the Outer Banks, this guide unveils the best spots for runners in the Tar Heel State, ensuring a memorable experience for athletes of all levels.

Charlotte’s Urban and Natural Trails

Charlotte boasts an impressive array of running routes that cater to both urban explorers and nature lovers. The U.S. National Whitewater Center offers 40 miles of woodland trails along the Catawba River, perfect for those seeking a mix of adventure and tranquility.

For a championship experience, McAlpine Creek Park features a marked 5K cross-country course. The Greenways, including Mallard Creek and Clark Creek, provide over 7 miles of uninterrupted trails, ideal for a peaceful run.

Meanwhile, the Booty Loop through the Myers Park neighborhood is an iconic route offering picturesque views of stately homes and lush landscapes​​.


Asheville’s running scene is rich with trails offering breathtaking mountain views and varying difficulty levels. The city is surrounded by natural beauty, including the Biltmore Estate, with over 22 miles of trails set against the backdrop of America’s largest home. Bent Creek Experimental Forest, part of the Pisgah National Forest, is a top destination for trail runners looking for a mix of easy to challenging routes.

Additionally, the urban trails in downtown Asheville provide a unique cityscape and natural beauty, perfect for an early morning jog before the city wakes​​​​.

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Research Triangle Park

The Research Triangle Park area, encompassing Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, is a runner’s dream with its mild climate and diverse landscapes. From the historic and beautiful campuses of Duke University to the extensive trails in Umstead Park, runners can enjoy cultural landmarks and natural beauty.

The American Tobacco Trail offers a longer distance path that starts in downtown Durham and extends over 22 miles, showcasing the area’s commitment to preserving green spaces for community use​​.

Greenfield Lake

Just south of the Historic District lies Greenfield Lake, a serene escape that offers a 4.5-mile loop of roads and paths encircling its waters. The area boasts a park-like setting, enveloped in a lush canopy of pines and Spanish moss, creating a tranquil atmosphere for runners.

The lake’s vicinity to the city’s historic core and natural beauty make it an ideal spot for those looking to combine scenic views with their running regimen.

Outer Banks: Coastal Runs and Historic Sites

The Outer Banks provides a unique running experience with its coastal landscapes and historic landmarks. Routes such as the Kitty Hawk Bay run, and the trails around the Wright Brothers Memorial offer stunning water views and a touch of history.

For those seeking a challenge, Jockey’s Ridge State Park, home to the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic Coast, presents an opportunity for a unique and strenuous workout. The climate is generally mild, making it an ideal year-round destination for runners​​.

Riverwalk and Historic District

The Riverwalk and the Historic District in Wilmington present an enchanting route for runners. It allows athletes to immerse themselves in the city’s rich history while enjoying the picturesque views along the wood-planked Riverwalk.

Extending for 2 miles, this route is complemented by the charming residential streets of the Historic District, adorned with lovely older homes and a generous canopy, providing a delightful shade for runners.

Gary Shell Cross-City Trail

The Gary Shell Cross-City Trail provides an extensive path for those looking to explore Wilmington from a different vantage point. Stretching across the town, this trail offers a mix of urban and natural landscapes. It connects various points of interest, including parks and recreational areas, facilitating a comprehensive tour of Wilmington by foot.

The trail is celebrated for its diversity, offering sections that pass through lakes and wooded areas, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The trail’s connectivity to Wrightsville Beach also makes it a perfect choice for runners seeking a blend of cityscapes and coastal views.


Greensboro offers an array of running routes that weave through historic neighborhoods, lush parks, and scenic greenways. The Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway, with its picturesque bridges and boardwalks over Lake Brandt, is a favorite among local runners.

For those interested in combining a run with a historical tour, the Battlegrounds Park District includes several miles of trails that pass through significant sites like the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park​​.


North Carolina offers an eclectic mix of running experiences, from serene waterfront paths to rugged mountain trails. Each city and region brings its own unique charm and challenges, catering to runners of all preferences and abilities. Whether seeking the solitude of nature or the vibrant energy of urban trails, North Carolina stands out as a premier destination for running enthusiasts.