Ahh, summer. Kids out of school, hot-weather running, and a trip here and there. We’ve pulled together six non-ultra-distance trail races in fun-to-visit towns to give you ideas for the best summer vacation ever.
Pinkham Notch, N.H.
Wildcat Mountain Trail Race, June 26
Two race options—a 5K that cuts across Wildcat Mountain and a 5-miler that climbs to the 4,062-foot summit and back down—take place on the Wildcat ski trail system in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. A beer garden, barbecue and live music lend a festive atmosphere to the finish, and a nature walk to a nearby waterfall takes place during the race. On the rest of your trip, enjoy the quaint, scenic and outdoorsy Granite State.
Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev.
Run to the Beach 5K/10K, July 4
Spend a long weekend around the Fourth of July at Lake Tahoe, swimming in the crystal clear (but cold!) lake and enjoying trails through dense pine forests and aspen groves, past smaller alpine lakes and along granite-riddled trails. On the morning of Independence Day, run this swooping, fast 5K, or the 10K course with a hearty climb—both races end on the sandy beach at Tahoe Vista with refreshments—including beer. Holiday fireworks light up the lake the night before.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Elephant’s Perch Backcountry Runs, July 16
Sun Valley in the summertime means bright sun, gorgeous mountains, wildflowers and all the outdoor activity you could ever want. On race day, choose from a 3- or 9.5-mile trail race; the 9 a.m. start means there’s time to actually enjoy your coffee. In addition to great running, hiking and mountain biking trails, Sun Valley is known for golf and tennis. Make this a family friendly, multisport trip with a trail race thrown in.
Kendall Mountain Run, July 23
Travel to the historic mining town of Silverton, for some rugged, high-altitude miles, including this lung-searing 12-mile race. The Kendall Mountain Run starts at 9,318 feet, tops out with a scramble to the mountain’s summit at 13,066 feet (that’s roughly 3,700 feet of climbing), then back to town. As part of the Sky Runner series, with $2,500 in prize money up for grabs, expect some competition. But all levels are welcome, and an 11K version may be more appealing.
Grand Island Trail Marathon, July 23
We know we said “non-ultra distance,” so consider running the half marathon on Grand Island’s trails (or run the marathon or 50K, if you’re up for it). All races take place on Grand Island in Lake Superior, a 10-minute ferry ride from Munising. Race courses run along the pristine coastline of the island, bluffs, sandstone cliffs and into the woods and the tombolo—the sand bar that ties the island to its thumb.
Haulin’ Aspen Trail Marathon, Aug. 6
Summer in the land of craft beer and sweet singletrack is the trail runner’s ideal vacation. The Haulin’ Aspen combines the two with a trail marathon, half-marathon and 6.5-mile race (dubbed the “Half-As”), with local beer and eats at the finish. The courses mix singletrack and forest service roads with grand views of the Cascade Mountains. The rest of your trip includes lounging by the Deschutes River, running more trails and sampling Bend’s many brews on the“Bend Ale Trail.”