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I’m a casual runner, but every time I venture to a new city, I love to lace up. The morning after I turned thirty, my husband and I ran at sunrise from our hotel near the White House to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as a way to experience our nation’s capital in a new way. A few years later, I bought a double jogging stroller to help manage the stress of my husband being deployed. Whenever I hear Houston’s Lizzo in my headphones, I’m instantly back in Iwakuni, Japan, pushing my two babies through fields of lotus flowers near the Marine base where we lived. And last April, as we were hunkered down during stay-at-home orders, I explored our new neighborhood in Flower Mound one mile at a time.
One perk of running in Texas is that all of our open space usually means less jogging in place at stoplights. The not-so-nice thing? The heat. Summer and early fall are a dreadful time for outdoor activities that don’t involve being dunked in water. But when a cold front blows across the state and overtakes the warm, wet air that has plagued us for months, that’s bliss. We’re entering the most wonderful weather time of the year, so turn off the treadmill, step outside, and check out one of these running spots in regions around Texas.
Corpus Christi’s main running event is the annual Beach to Bay Relay in May, the largest relay marathon in the country. There’s no better way to practice than to feel the wind come off the water as you run on the seawall along the bayfront. A little over a century ago, the hurricane of 1919 caused city leaders to look at ways to protect the city from future storms. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum designed a seawall in 1928, a few years before he moved to South Dakota and carved Mount Rushmore. The structure is made of cement mixed with salt water from Corpus Christi Bay, rather than the usual fresh water. To allow for social distancing, the city shuts down a portion of Shoreline Boulevard from 7 to 11 a.m. each Saturday to give runners and bikers extra room. Start at the Selena Memorial Statue and head south to Cole Park—a distance of nearly 2 miles.
White Rock Lake Park
Sure, the Trinity Skyline Trail gives a nice view of downtown Dallas. And the Katy Trail has the Ice House at the end of it. But at White Rock Lake Park, there’s something rarer: a glimpse into how Texas used to look before it was plowed up and paved over. The nearly 2,000-acre park is home to 250 acres of blackland prairie. Only 5,000 acres of that remain in the state. In late spring, purple coneflowers dot the landscape, but the grasses turn a nice amber color in the fall. The perimeter trail runs around the park for a distance of a little more than nine miles. If you’re there near dark, keep an eye out for the Lady of the Lake. There have been multiple accounts since 1943 of a soaking wet woman who asks for a ride home to Oak Cliff, only to disappear in the car on the ride there.
If you’re in West Texas on a weekend trip, set aside Sunday morning for a jog along El Paso’s Scenic Drive, a two-mile road that lives up to its name. It is closed to traffic that day so that runners, walkers, and bicyclists can safely exercise while enjoying a view of the Franklin Mountains. The road is paved but does have a bit of elevation to it. At the overlook, snap a panoramic photo of El Paso on one side and Ciudad Juárez on the other. Dig up some quarters to carry with you so you can look through the telescopes set up at the wall overlooking the city.
During World War I, this 1,500-acre park was home to Camp Logan, a training camp for soldiers. More than 70,000 prepared for war here. As it was transformed to a park to honor those who gave their lives, it became a destination for Houstonians. Even first lady Barbara Bush was known to frequent the grounds. Today, it’s a runner’s dream. There are lockers available so you can safely store your car keys and other belongings before you head out on the Seymour Lieberman trail, which is a gravel loop nearly three miles around. That’s the most popular route, but the park has more than 25 miles of trails in all. The shortest is a quarter-mile timing track for sprints. When you’re finished, there are also showers on site.
Before hopping on a flight at San Antonio International Airport, or after arriving, swing by nearby McAllister Park to get the blood pumping. The 976-acre park opened in 1968 and has expanded to include five miles of asphalt trails and more than ten miles of unpaved routes. At the head of the Turkey Roost Trail, there are stationary fitness stations set up to work all of your muscles. Keep an eye out while you run. Wildlife is abundant at the park. Deer are the most visible, but other animals including armadillos and foxes have been seen in the area.
Rose Rudman Park
This trail system‘s close proximity to the clump of hotels on the southeast side of the city make it the perfect location for travelers to trade a morning in the gym for one spent running under the trees. The paved path winds along a creek and includes an arched bridge. Trails range from half a mile to a little over a mile. Take the Rudman Loop Trail on the northern end of the park and ring the Tyler Cancer Bell, an antique bronze cast bell that was set up in 2002 to honor and memorialize those who have battled the disease.
The city was named for the Wichita, the Native American tribe who had a village by the river, and a waterfall that cascaded nearby. The original waterfall washed away in the late nineteenth century and was reconstructed nearly one hundred years later. A mile-long concrete path inside Lucy Park leads to the present-day man-made falls. The city has set up more than twenty miles of multiuse trails, but the most scenic is a four-mile route that starts at Lucy Park. The path runs beside the Wichita River and winds with the natural landscape. The ten-foot-wide path, where you can watch people cast lines for catfish in the red-tinted water, crosses a historic railroad bridge.