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Autumn is a fantastic season for running. Crisp air, orchards, pumpkins, and of course the changing leaves. The fall colors might have peaked in far northern spots, but the brilliant colors will be spreading southwards over the next couple of weeks. So we thought it might be fun to select one iconic run in each eastern city, from Montreal to Norfolk, that is particularly special in the fall. You won’t find beach runs or pine tree forests here! These routes are generally in signature parks, wooded paths, or spots with great foliage views, in areas with the prettiest autumn leaves. For additional detail on each route, click on the link.
Montreal: Mount Royal. The iconic Montreal run in this Olmsted-designed park. Run from downtown to the peak to enjoy the fantastic views.
Ottawa: Gatineau Park. More than 100 miles of paved and unpaved trails, great for road running and trail running, flats and hills, under a brilliant canopy.
Toronto: Beltline Trail. While the Martin Goodman trail along the lakeshore might be the signature Toronto run, this one’s the run to do in October, winding 8 miles through some of the city’s poshest neighborhoods.
Burlington, VT: Shelburne Farms. A working farm just south of Burlington, this National Historic Landmark has stunning views of Lake Champlain, the Green Mountains, and the Adirondacks. 10 miles of trails.
Boston: Emerald Necklace. This signature Olmsted greenway should peak in early November. Enjoy the Boston Common, Public Garden, Commonwealth Ave. Mall, Fens, Jamaica Pond, the Arnold Arboretum, and Franklin Park
Boston #2: Battle Road Trail. Concord, MA is about 15 miles west of Boston and is one of New England’s autumn epicenters. The Minuteman Trail is a 5-mile gravel trail following Revere’s steps, from Lexington to Concord. Woods, historic sites, gorgeous fields and meadows.
Providence: Roger Williams Park. This beautiful 3.1-mile loop runs past the Temple to Music, and The Roger Williams Botanical Gardens.
New York City: Central Park. This urban oasis is resplendent in fall. This is the time to vary from the perimeter or reservoir run and enjoy the more wooded interior sections of the park.
The Bronx: Van Cortlandt Park. One of the underrated spots in the greater NYC area is gorgeous in the fall. Multiple trails and marked cross-country courses through the park’s ridges, valleys, forests, wetlands, old aqueducts, and a lake.
Philadelphia: Wissahikon Valley Park and Forbidden Drive. Fairmont Park might be one of the signature Philly spots, but this is the time of year to venture slightly further north to enjoy this park’s 50+ miles of mainly wooded trails, including Forbidden Drive, a road closed to cars.
Baltimore: Roland Park Neighborhood. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted between 1890 and 1920 as the first “planned suburban community”. This gorgeous residential neighborhood features specimen trees and roads with large setbacks, park-like mediums, gracious homes, and expensive infrastructure.
Washington, D.C.: Rock Creek Park. A wonderful option to enjoy Washington’s lush foliage. The principal running path is the paved 10-mile Rock Creek Trail, but there are many other trail options.
Norfolk Area: Newport News Park. 7,000 acre park has a large range of activities, and many options for runners. 5-mile loop along a bike path, miles of trail running, and a 2 mile paved lakeside road on the east side of the Reservoir.
Shenandoah National Park. The famed Skyline Drive is at its best in the fall. Hop out of the car and enjoy a run among the colors. See our guide for the safest and most scenic options: Big Meadow, the Snead Farm Loop, and the Limberlost Trail.
Mark Lowenstein is Chief Running Officer of Great Runs, the ultimate guide to the best places to run in the world’s major cities and destinations. He can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @greatruns