Should I Start Trail Running? | Hikers University

Should I start trail running? That’s a question many people with newly found health goals ask themselves. Let us look at its pros and cons. 

If you want to lose weight, tone muscles, reduce stress, gain confidence, or get closer to nature, you should definitely start trail running. 

Some of the reasons for this are that it allows you to explore new places, it is a great workout, it is great for your mental health, it is a way to meet new people, and a way to get away from it all, challenge yourself, unplug from technology, and have a lot of fun. 

I have not only mentioned the reasons below for why one should start trail running but some useful tips for beginners as well. 

I have been trail running for over 15 years now and have experienced all the benefits it offers firsthand.

Table of contents


Should I Start Trail Running?

If you're thinking about taking up trail running, there are a few things you should know before hitting the trails. First and foremost, trail running is a bit different than running on the pavement. There are a few things you'll need to take into accounts, such as terrain, weather, and even wildlife. But don't let that dissuade you! Trail running can be an incredibly rewarding experience. 

So, what do you need to know before getting started? Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

The first thing to consider is the terrain. Trails can be anything from packed dirt to loose gravel to single-track. Each type of terrain requires different levels of traction and stability, so it's important to choose the right shoe for the job. You also need to be aware of the weather conditions. If it's been raining, the trails will likely be muddy and slippery. It's important to take this into account when planning your route. 

Wildlife is another consideration when trail running. In some areas, you may encounter bears, snakes, or other potentially dangerous animals. It's important to be aware of your surroundings and make noise when running so as not to startle any wildlife. 

Finally, trail running can be more strenuous than running on the pavement. Make sure to take breaks as needed and carry plenty of water with you.

All in all, trail running is a great way to get outside and explore the world around you. Just make sure to do your research and be prepared before heading out! 

Who Should Not Trail Run?

There are certain individuals who should not trail run due to the inherent risks associated with the activity. These people include those with heart conditions, respiratory problems, or other serious health issues. In addition, pregnant women and young children should avoid trail running, as there is a risk of injury or exhaustion. Finally, anyone who is not in good physical shape should consult a doctor before attempting to trail run.

Reasons Why You Should Start Trail Running Today!

Have you been getting a feeling that you need a change in your running routine? Maybe you're stuck in a rut, or maybe you're just looking for a new challenge. If so, then you should definitely consider giving trail running a try!

Not sure if trail running is right for you? Here are some great reasons why you should give it a shot:

Trail running is a great way to explore new places

If you've been running the same routes around your neighborhood or local park for years, then trail running can offer a refreshing change of scenery. There are endless possibilities when it comes to exploring trails, and you never know what hidden gems you'll discover along the way. 

Trail running can be a great workout 

If you're looking for a more challenging workout, then trail running can definitely provide that. The uneven terrain and obstacles, such as roots and rocks, can make for a much more intense run than pounding the pavement.


Trail running is great for your mental health 

In addition to providing a great physical workout, trail running can also do wonders for your mental health. Being in nature has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, and the fresh air and scenery can help clear your mind.


Trail running is a great way to meet new people 

If you're looking to meet other runners, then trail running is a great option. There's a strong sense of community among trail runners, and you're likely to meet some great people along the way.


Trail running can be as easy or difficult as you make it 

One of the great things about trail running is that it can be as easy or difficult as you want to make it. There are trails of all different lengths and levels of difficulty, so you can always find one that's right for your fitness level.


Trail running is a great way to get away from it all 

If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, then trail running can be a great option. There's nothing like getting lost in the woods (in a safe way, of course) and leaving all your worries behind.


Trail running can help you appreciate the little things in life 

When you're out on a long run, it's easy to get caught up in your thoughts and miss the beauty that surrounds you. But when you're trail running, you're forced to pay attention to your surroundings and really take in all the little details. This can help you appreciate the beauty of nature and slow down to enjoy the simple things in life.


Trail running can be a great way to challenge yourself 

If you're looking for a new running goal, then trail running can be a great option. There are races of all different lengths and levels of difficulty, so you can always find one that's right for you.


Trail running is a great way to unplug yourself from technology 

In today's world, it's easy to get caught up in the constant stream of information coming at us from our phones and computers. But when you're out on a trail run, you're forced to unplug from all of that and really connect with nature. This can help you clear your mind and focus on what's important.


Trail running is simply fun!

At the end of the day, trail running is simply fun. It's a great way to get outside, explore new places, and challenge yourself. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring!


10 Tips For Trail Running Beginners

Trail running can be a great way to get some fresh air and exercise, but it's important to be prepared before hitting the trails. Here are 10 tips for trail running beginners:

1. Get the right gear

Trail running shoes with good treads are a must, as is comfortable clothing that won't chafe. A hat or visor can help keep the sun out of your eyes, and sunglasses can protect your eyes from obstacles like branches.

2. Warm up before you start

Just like with any other type of exercise, it's important to warm up your muscles before hitting the trails. A light jog or some dynamic stretching will do the trick.

3. Start slow

Don't try to go too fast, too soon. Take your time and build up your endurance gradually.

4. Be aware of your surroundings

Pay attention to where you're going and look out for obstacles like roots and rocks. If you can, avoid running in the dark or in areas where there might be wildlife.

5. Stay hydrated

Bring water with you and take regular breaks to drink it. You might also want to bring along some sports drink mix to keep your electrolytes up.

6. Bring snacks

Trail running can be tough on your body, so make sure you have some food with you in case you need it. Energy bars or gels are easy to carry and will give you a quick boost if you start to bonk.

7. Dress in layers

The weather can change quickly when you're out on the trails, so it's important to dress in layers that you can add or remove as needed. A windbreaker is a good option to have on hand in case it gets chilly.

8. Be prepared for emergencies

Bring your phone with you in case you need to call for help, and consider carrying a small first-aid kit in case of minor injuries.

9. Stick to marked trails

It can be tempting to explore off the beaten path but stick to marked trails until you get more experience. Once you know your way around, you can venture off into the wilderness.

10. Have fun

Trail running is supposed to be enjoyable, so make sure you take the time to appreciate your surroundings and savor the experience.

The Trail Running Gear You Will Need

There are a few key pieces of gear that you will need in order to start trail running. This includes proper shoes, clothing, and hydration. Let's take a look at each of these items in more detail.


Perhaps the most important piece of gear for trail running is a good pair of shoes. They should be lightweight and have good traction. Look for shoes that have been designed specifically for trail running.


It's also important to dress appropriately for trail running. You'll want to wear clothes that are comfortable and won't chafe or rub. Synthetic fabrics are often a good choice as they wick away sweat. And make sure to choose bright colors so that you can be easily seen on the trails.


Staying hydrated is crucial when you're running, so be sure to bring along a water bottle or hydration pack. And don't forget to drink before you head out on your run. It's also a good idea to carry some energy gels or bars in case you need a quick boost.

In addition to these items, there are a few other things that can be helpful to have when you're trail running. A GPS watch can be useful for tracking your distance and pace. And a headlamp is essential if you plan on running in the early morning or evening hours.

Misconceptions About Trail Running

"Trail running is just like running on the road, only with more obstacles."

Wrong! Trail running is a very different beast from its road-running cousin. For starters, trail runners tend to be a lot more fit and agile, able to navigate around obstacles and uneven terrain deftly. They also tend to be much more aware of their surroundings, always keeping an eye out for potential hazards. 

"You need special equipment to go trail running." 

Again, wrong! While it's true that some trail runners do invest in specialty gear like trail-running shoes and GPS watches, you don't necessarily need any of that stuff to enjoy the sport. All you really need is a good pair of running shoes and the willingness to get a little dirty.

"Trail running is too dangerous." 

This one is partially true. Trail running can be dangerous if you're not careful, but then again, so can driving a car or crossing the street. The key is to be aware of your surroundings and to know your limits. If you're comfortable running on trails, then go for it! Just be sure to take precautions and always let someone know where you're going. 

"Trail runners are all crazy." 

OK, so this one might be slightly true... but only because we enjoy pushing ourselves to the limit! Seriously though, trail running is an incredibly exhilarating and addictive sport, and once you start, it's hard to stop.

"Trail running is too hard." 

This one is definitely not true! While trail running can be challenging at times, it's also incredibly rewarding. And, like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

"Trail running is boring." 

This is probably the biggest misconception of all. In reality, trail running is anything but boring. In fact, it's one of the most exciting and enjoyable ways to experience the great outdoors. There's nothing quite like exploring new trails and taking in the stunning scenery that surrounds you.


Where to Trail Run If You Are a Beginner?

If you are new to trail running, the thought of finding the right trail can be daunting. With so many options available, it's difficult to ascertain where to start. 

When choosing a trail to run, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, consider the distance you are comfortable running. If you're just starting out, it's important to pick a route that is not too long or too challenging. 

Secondly, take into account the terrain. If you're new to trail running, you'll want to stick to trails that are relatively flat and not too technical. Once you gain some experience, you can start to explore more rugged trails with hills and obstacles. 

Finally, think about the scenery. Do you want to run through a forest or along a mountain ridge? The choice is up to you! 

Once you have an idea of what you're looking for, it's time to start searching for trails. A great resource for finding trails in your area is This website has a comprehensive database of trails all over the world. 

You can search for trails based on location, distance, difficulty, and more. Plus, users can leave reviews and photos, so you can get a good idea of what to expect before you head out. 

If you're in the United States, another great resource is the National Park Service website. Here, you can find information on trails in all national parks. 

Now that you know where to look for trails, let's take a look at some specific recommendations. 

Here are three beginner-friendly trails to try:


John Muir Trail, California

John Muir Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in California. The trail stretches for over 200 miles, from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. Along the way, hikers will experience some of the most stunning scenery in the state, including alpine meadows, granite peaks, and rushing rivers. 

The John Muir Trail is named after famed naturalist John Muir, who was instrumental in the creation of Yosemite National Park. Today, the trail is a popular destination for both day hikes and extended backpacking trips. Hikers can access the trail from several different starting points, depending on their desired level of difficulty. 

The John Muir Trail is considered one of the best hikes in California and possibly even the entire country. With its beautiful scenery and challenging terrain, the trail is a must-do for any serious hiker. If you're looking for an adventure, the John Muir Trail is the perfect place to start.


Appalachian Trail, Maine to Georgia

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in the United States. The trail stretches from Maine to Georgia and covers a distance of 2,180 miles (3,508 kilometers). The trail passes through 14 states and is home to a variety of plant and animal life. Hikers who attempt to hike the entire trail are known as thru-hikers. 

The trail was first proposed in 1921 by Benton MacKaye, a forester and regional planner. The first section of the trail was completed in 1925. Today, the trail is maintained by 31 different organizations. These organizations work together to keep the trail open and accessible to everyone. 

Approximately 3 million people visit the Appalachian Trail each year. Of those, only about 2,000 people attempt to hike the entire trail. Of those 2,000 people, only about one in four actually succeeds. 

The Appalachian Trail is a great way to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature. It is also a great way to challenge yourself physically and mentally. If you are thinking about attempting a thru-hike, be sure to do your research and plan ahead. The trail is not for everyone, but it is an experience that you will never forget.


Pacific Crest Trail, California to Washington State

One of the most popular long-distance hiking trails in North America, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), extends for over 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. The trail traverses some of the most diverse and scenic terrains in the continental United States, including desert, mountain, and forest ecosystems. 

The vast majority of the PCT is located within California, with only a small section extending into Oregon and Washington State. However, this section of the trail is no less spectacular than the rest, offering hikers stunning views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and other Cascade Range peaks. 

The Pacific Crest Trail was first conceived in the 1930s by a group of Sierra Club members who were looking for a way to connect the newly created Sierra Nevada National Park with Mount Rainier National Park. Construction of the trail began in 1935 and was completed in 1938. 

However, it wasn't until 1968 that the PCT was officially designated as a National Scenic Trail. In 1993, Congress added an additional 1,000 miles to the trail, extending it from its previous terminus at Mount Whitney to its current terminus at the Canadian border.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

Read More About Peter Brooks