Trail runner.

Take your run to the trails

Ready to ditch the treadmill or pavement for somewhere a little more scenic?

Trail running opens a whole new world for you beyond paved surfaces. And as with road running, it’s a healthy, simple activity with few gear requirements.

We’ve partnered with our friends at Merrell to share the health benefits of trail running, as well as what you need to know to get started!

Health benefits of hitting the trail

In addition to the obvious cardio benefits, running on varied terrain can enhance your agility, endurance, and overall strength.

Two women running on the beach.

It also demands your full attention to avoid tripping hazards like roots and rocks, which is a great form of mindfulness.

No time to overfixate on deadlines and lists when there are puddles to leap and branches to duck!

Two women jogging on trail.

Ultimately, trail running isn’t about the distance or pace; it’s about the experience and being outside.

Trails offer a greater connection to nature, whether you’re at your local park or out in the wilderness.

Check out these top tips to get started trail running:

Plan ahead

Before your trail running debut, do a bit of research.

Consider things such as the type of running surface, the weather, and the elevation gain (hills and steepness).

Know your route in advance.

Find the right shoes

Woman jogging while pushing stroller. Shoes are the main gear consideration for trail runners.

Trail running shoes are specially made to handle uneven, rugged terrain.

They are built to take on soft earth, loose rocks, and pretty much anything in between.

Proper footwear is especially important in more remote trails, where help may be harder to come by (protect those ankles, runners!).

(Our friends at Merrell have various styles to help you channel your inner trail runner and reconnect with the ground!)

Safety first

Let someone know your route, and how long you are likely to be.

Preload maps on your phone or GPS watch. Consider a headlamp, an extra layer, and a small first aid kit.

Don’t forget to hydrate or pack a water bottle!

Practice good trail etiquette

Trail runners, like all trail users, should leave no trace. Carry out banana peels, energy bar wrappers, and any other garbage you bring with you.

Forested trail.

Stay on the trail, and don’t be tempted to shortcut switchbacks. Going off the trail causes erosion on steep slopes, damages the natural vegetation, and creates damaging social trails.

It also keeps you safer from injury or poison ivy, and makes it less likely you’ll get lost.

Don’t forget to share the trail, and leave space for others to enjoy it as well.

Enjoy your run!

Head out with an open mind and go on your own mini-adventure.

Soak up the sights and sounds of nature, and explore the great outdoors!

Merrell logoOntario Parks thanks corporate partners like Merrell for their support.