Taking your run off-road does a lot more for you than offer some cool views, mix up your routine, and let you imagine, however momentarily, that you’re Rambo. (Admit it: That’s probably why you like running in the woods to begin with.)
Bounding over nature’s obstacles, negotiating rocks and roots, and stutter-stepping across uneven terrain is actually great for your legs—it activates stabilizer muscles that wouldn’t kick in if you were just striding on plain old asphalt (to say nothing of the gentler impact forces and myriad benefits for your hamstrings, glutes, and calves inherent in cranking uphill).
Got it? Good. Here are some of the coolest American paths to work your wheels.
Where: MANITOU SPRINGS, CO
Airport: DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Accommodations: THE CLIFF HOUSE AT PIKES PEAK (FROM $125)
Begin at City Hall, start running, and more than 7,000 vertical feet later—at a ridiculously punishing average grade of 11%—you’ll find yourself at the spot where America the Beautiful was composed. (If you want, snap a selfie while thumbing your nose at the softies who took a nearby railway tourist car to the top.)