Summer is the ideal time to get outside, get active, and work up a sweat. We asked Piedmont’s Sarah Lavender Smith, a competitive ultrarunner and running coach, for her top trail-running spots for beginners, intermediate runners, and hard-core racers.
Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, Oakland
Round trip: 2.5 miles
Trailhead: Skyline Boulevard Staging Area
The run: "This route is perfect for beginners, or for groups, because the trail is wide and gentle rather than narrow and technical, and most of the hills are a moderate, runnable slope. When you reach the Round Top and Volcanic trails, you’re awarded sweeping views of Contra Costa and Mount Diablo."
Kings Canyon Loop Trail, Moraga
Round Trip: 6 miles
Trailhead: Valle Vista Staging Area on Canyon Road
The run: "The Kings Canyon Loop makes for a challenging and satisfying hill workout for runners and hikers, but avoid it during mud season, when the trail turns to thick clay. Also, carry ample water; the EBMUD [East Bay Municipal Utility District] trail staging areas do not feature any drinking fountains."
Mount Diablo, Walnut Creek
Round trip: 20 miles
Trailhead: via Frog Pond and Green Ranch Roads
The run: "When I want a lengthy training run on Mount Diablo of 20 miles or more, I like starting at Castle Rock, running up Stage Road and Wall Point Road to get to Rock City (where water is available for refilling), and then I make my way to Curry Point and down to Frog Pond Road. Running and hiking up Frog Pond and Green Ranch mark the most challenging—and satisfying—miles of the long training run."
For more information on these trails as well as practical tips, inspiration, and goal-oriented guides to trail running, check out Smith’s book, The Trail Runner’s Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Trail Running and Racing, From 5Ks to Ultras, or visit her blog, therunnerstrip.com.