The Top Flat Runs in the U.S.

Flat doesn’t mean boring.

There’s nothing like the bum-busting burn of jogging up a mountain, but not all of us live in a land of peaks. Sure, we love the hills and mountains that make trail running so challenging, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a good flat trail every now and then. Flat trails offer fantastic running opportunities, without the constant punishment on our legs, and these seven are about as pretty as they come. Get ready to be immersed in the local ecosystem and wowed by these flat out unique trails.

Little Manatee River State Park: Florida

Distance: 7.2 miles
Difficulty Rating: Easy/Intermediate
Ascent: 137 feet

The trail going under an old oak tree | Photo: TRP contributor Tom Kamprath

This swampy trail cuts right through Central Florida’s unique ecosystem of wetlands and lowlands. Though less-traveled, the trail is well marked and takes you across a handful of bridges and through a maze of pine and oak trees. Watch for poison ivy, and be aware that water moccasins do live in the area. For your best experience here, visit when it’s dry—or be prepared to get a little muddy.

Canada Goose Mother Nature Trail: North Dakota

Distance: 7.6 miles
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Ascent: 392 feet

On the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, the Canada Goose Mother Nature Trail takes you right through migratory bird territory, where a whopping 250 species have been spotted. Keep an eye out for ducks, geese, swans, grebes, and shorebirds. The flat grass trail runs along the Des Lacs river, so you’ll have nearly eight whole miles to take in the scenery.

Monkey Trail: Louisiana

Distance: 9.3 miles
Difficulty Rating:Intermediate
Ascent: 756 feet

Woods, woods, and more woods. With its lush forest (and unyielding roots), Monkey Trail is one of Louisiana’s more technical trails—and it’s located right next to a primate retirement community. Though not totally flat (with 750 feet of elevation gain) the run’s switchbacks are mellow, and the varied terrain makes Monkey Trail an exceptionally fun run, with just enough challenge to give you a good workout.

Swamp Forest Trail: Delaware

Distance: 6.6 miles
Difficulty Rating:Easy/Intermediate
Ascent: 425 feet

Swamp Forest Trail takes you around Delaware’s largest freshwater pond, Lums Pond. Moving from the shoreline to the neighboring wetland forest, the aptly named, packed dirt trail provides just enough obstacles and hills to get a good workout—without busting your legs. You’ll cross a multitude of boardwalk bridges, and you might just see a group of zip liners soaring overhead.

Little Turtle Trail: Ohio

Distance: 1.6 miles
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Ascent: 136 feet

View of the Ohio River from the Little Turtle Trail | Photo: TRP contributor Andrew Grachek

Little Turtle Trail is a short, well-maintained path overlooking the Ohio River. The flat, gravel trail is perfect for an easy jaunt or quick run with your four-legged friend. Despite the captivating view of the river, it’s not a heavily used area, so your run will be as peaceful as it is easy on the legs.

Maps and essential beta here.

Scott Lake Loop Trail: Kansas

Distance: 6.6 miles
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate
Ascent: 227 feet

With natural springs and rocky bluffs, Scott Lake Loop is a trail running oasis. Circling a lake, this trail is for nature-lovers. Yellow-breasted chats, thirteen-lined ground squirrels, magpies, deer, and a multitude of reptiles have all been seen in this tranquil state park. The Lake Loop is a multi-use trail, so be on the lookout for mountain bikers and horses.

Ice Age Trail, Madison Segment: Wisconsin

Distance: 3.1 miles
Difficulty Rating: Easy/Intermediate
Ascent: 191 feet

During the Ice Age, 15,000 years ago, a glacier covered much of North America. This run, part of almost 1,200 miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, created in 1980, follows right along where the glacier once stood. Rolling through prairie fields and forests, this section of the historic trail submerses you in classic Midwest landscape—the Driftless region. The singletrack trail offers a beautiful, beginner-friendly run. If three miles isn’t enough, the trail continues on through 31 counties. A word of caution: the Ice Age Trail runs through hunting land, so if you’re out during hunting season, wear bright orange or pink.

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