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The West Coast is the best coast. Regardless of what the weather's lookin' like in other parts of the country, the Golden State's coastal cities are usually shining bright. The combination of temperate weather year-round, gorgeous shoreline, and stunning ocean vistas yields extraordinary coastal trail runs.
Experience California's diverse landscapes along the coast. Whether you're looking to do autumn runs in SoCal or brisk jogs in San Francisco, these are the best California trail runs for beautiful views—don't forget to create your outdoor workout playlist before you go.
Located north of Fort Bragg, MacKerricher State Park is by far one of the best places if you're looking for a long California trail run in Mendocino. For a challenge, run the five-mile Haul Road Trail—a coastal path stretching from Fort Bragg to Inglenook. The route is mainly wide-groomed gravel, but you'll come across a boardwalk with splendid vistas. For a quicker coastal run, the two-mile stretch from Mill Creek to Ward Avenue is all about the Pacific Ocean vistas.
For optimal ocean views, peace of mind, and solitude, leave the Bay behind and head to Point Reyes National Seashore. Once you experience these coastal trails, you won't want to run anywhere else. The inland trails do the job, too—enjoy sprinting through grassy meadows and pine forests. For an extraordinary run, jog the Coast Trail located in the northern part of the park. If you're feeling ambitious, combine the Coast Trail with the Ridge Trail for a secluded, soul-soothing run.
For excellent trail running in the Bay Area, jog along the California Coastal Trail from the Golden Gate Bridge to Lands End Lookout. This five-mile one-way route makes for quite the run, leading you past beautiful ocean views, up a few hills, and through flower-dotted meadows. Upon approaching the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, you can either take Lincoln Boulevard or the Batteries to Bluffs Trail.
Regardless of which path you choose, the trail eventually leads back to the Coastal Trail; you'll then take the Coastal Trail to Lands End Lookout. In addition to the majestic views, enjoy landmarks along the way—may Baker Beach, Seal Rock, and Sutro Baths inspire you to run faster to the finish line. For the ultimate shoreline run, jog along Baker Beach's sandy seaside.
Situated just two miles from downtown San Francisco, the Berkeley Marina is an awesome place to go trail running in the Bay Area. The area consists of three parks and roughly eight miles of shoreside trail with splendid views of the San Francisco Bay, the Berkeley Yacht Harbor, and the South Sailing Basin. The eight-mile Berkeley Marina Loop takes you around Cesar E. Chavez Park, McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, and Aquatic Park. For a shorter run, just skip Aquatic Park.
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Starting from Oracle Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants, run over to Fort Point via the Embarcadero before hopping on the trail that takes you to the Golden Gate Bridge. From the bridge, continue on to Vista Point; along the way, indulge in views of the gorgeous shoreline and grassy meadows. The 9.6-mile combines flat ground with mild climbing—you'll have to go up to the trails that lead to the Golden Gate.
One of the best trail runs in Los Angeles is the Marvin Braude Trail—start your adventure in Santa Monica. The paved path will take you from the Santa Monica Pier to Venice Beach, finally ending at Washington Boulevard for a 2.6-mile run. If you're looking for a change of scenery or for a longer workout, the path continues inland, looping around Marina del Rey's Fisherman's Village and stretching on to Manhattan Beach (and beyond). You can also take the path along the Venice Beach Canals for lovely views and a quick journey to Italy.
For a coastal run a bit outside of the city, head to one of Orange County’s most prominent open spaces and California’s best state parks: Crystal Cove State Park. This gorgeous expanse boasts 3.2 miles of sandy beach and 2,400 acres of wilderness well-suited for a day of discovery. For an easier run, enjoy the Crystal Cove Promenade (located just below the highway), which stretches about 2.7 miles from Little Treasure Cove to Muddy Canyon. If you want a more intense cardio workout, tackle the five-mile El Moro Canyon Loop Trail and be rewarded with some of the best coastal views in the park.
For the ultimate Southern California trail run, the five-mile one-way stretch between La Jolla Shores and Torrey Pines State Reserve couldn't be any more picturesque. Wide sandy beaches; towering cliffs; the sound of dramatic weaves crashing—Southern California beaches sure know how to set the right mood. If you want to shorten your run, turn around once you reach La Jolla Farms Road; if you want to extend, continue until you arrive in Del Mar.
San Diego’s beautiful beaches are one of the main draws in the city. The best part? There's plenty of trails waiting for you. Get ready for a lovely journey as you run from Mission to Pacific Beach; the iconic Oceanfront Boardwalk takes you along 3.5 miles of paved road. As you jog beside the coast, you'll go past parks, cool shops, and grand hotels. Time your workout around sunset for the most stunning vistas.
Can't get enough of the healthy lifestyle? Read on for more fun running trails in California to add to your list.
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