Dirt trails, running and RVing combine for the ultimate trifecta. Point your rig to any of these great West Coast trail running destinations for RVers and you’re guaranteed a first-place finish with good times and better health as your grand prize.
Mother Nature constantly beckons you to explore her backyard. Outdoor sports are one of the best ways to do it, and the variety of outdoor activities for RVers is endless. Some RVers love kayaking in cool, clear waters, many cycle along gorgeous Florida beachfront, and others find their happy place while fly fishing. My personal favorite is trail running. All it takes is a sturdy pair of shoes and a willingness to break a sweat for an up-close look at the gorgeous destination surrounding your campsite.
I’m a California native and totally biased about trail running on the West Coast. When I choose a camping spot, I look for great routes near RV-friendly campgrounds. Those closest to trailheads are always first on my list. To me, there’s no greater motivation for finishing a run than knowing salty snacks and cold beverages are minutes away. If this sounds good to you, too, here’s a shortlist of great West Coast trail running destinations for RVers that should be on your bucket list.
Beautiful things happen when old railroad routes are transformed into multi-use pedestrian paths. The Snoqualmie Valley Trail is a great example of the Rails-to-Trails movement. This 31.5-mile in-and-out gravel path meanders through lush forests, lakeside meadows and there’s even a roaring waterfall as your grand finale. Once used as a railway extension linking coastal Washington to the rest of the country via the Cascades Mountains, today you’ll find runners, bikers, horseback riders—and sometimes bear and elk — sharing the path. The terrain ranges from easy to difficult but you can choose your workout based on your starting point. A segment of the trail can even take you to the Idaho border if you’re prepared for a real adventure.
Stay: Get close to the trail by checking into Tall Chief RV & Camping Resort in Fall City. Located about five miles from the Fall City-Carnation Road trailhead, this full-service campground and resort are also just 25 minutes from downtown Seattle, making it a perfect base camp to explore the region.
The city of Bend is an outdoor athlete’s dream. The laid-back, eco-conscious community celebrates human-powered movement all year long. Dozens of trails are easily accessible in and around greater Bend, and one of the best ways to experience the town’s vibe is along The Deschutes River Trail. The 12.5-mile path showcases the best of the region on asphalt, concrete, dirt, and gravel surface shared by bikers and runners. Pit stops are plentiful along the way, and you can choose from an authentic dirt trail running experience on the northern end, or take a jog through Bend’s popular Old Mill District at the other.
Stay: These Bend, Oregon, RV park selections are excellent for a smaller town. Stay in town for a city experience at Scandia RV Park, or kick up your heels at the rustic cowboy country at Crooked River Ranch RV Park in nearby Terrebonne. You can also head to the hills at a highly rated getaway at Bend/Sisters Garden RV Resort at the base of the majestic Three Sisters cascade mountain range. Wherever you go, you’ll find plenty of trail-running routes to explore.
The small mountain town of Susanville might seem like an unlikely West Coast trail running destination. But if you’re a trail runner, I guarantee you will love heading out on the Biz Johnson National Recreation Trail. Start at the bottom for a gradual uphill climb through stunning canyon scenery above the Susan River, or catch a shuttle to the top and cruise down into town along the 25.4-mile-long former railway line. This relatively unknown, lightly used recreation trail meanders through forests, crosses the river twelve times with stunning trestle bridges, and sends you through two amazingly long railway tunnels (bring a light!). The Biz is perfect for any skill level and you can even have a sag wagon greet you with snacks, drinks, and even a campsite at various locations along the route.
Stay: For hearty trail runners who love to boondock, the Lassen National Forest has dispersed camping opportunities along the trail. But if you prefer coming home to full-hookups and a pleasant place to relax after a hard run, the Susanville RV Park in town is your best bet. The immaculately manicured urban RV park also makes a great base camp to explore the starting point of the trail, just three miles away at Hobo Camp. Within the Lassen National Forest, Hat Creek Resort and RV Park puts visitors in the heart of the wilderness.
Any time is the best time to go RVing in Southern California and the same holds true for trail running. Wintertime is my favorite season to head out in the mild winter temperatures underneath sunny skies. One of the best places to trail run in SoCal is just eight miles east of downtown San Diego’s Mission Trails Regional Park. Beloved by locals and tourists alike, it showcases beautiful, hilly terrain along 65 trail miles spread out among 7,200 acres of gorgeous open space. There’s a route for every fitness level, and the best part is you’ll be within minutes of several great RV parks.
Stay: You’ll have a hard time choosing where to park your rig. San Diego has a long list of 5-star resorts, but two RV parks near Mission Trails Regional Park enjoy the advantage of being closest to the trailheads. With 190 acres of parkland to enjoy, Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve in Santee feels like a world away from the cacophony of city sounds. For a more up-close, urban experience, San Diego RV Resort in La Mesa is a full-service park with easy access to the best San Diego tourist attractions.
From the Canadian border and down south to Mexico, the trails in Washington, Oregon, and California are some of the best in the nation. Relatively mild year-round weather also makes it one of the best four-season sports destinations for RVers. Whether you go camping in the Cascades, meander through the Sierra Nevadas, or head anywhere in between, West Coast trail running is an awesome activity for RVers.