Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Run Here, Right Now
Running around a new-to-you city is often the best way to check out sights and get a lay of the land. But how can you know where to go? Besides asking a local for suggestions, there are several ways to access popular—and safe—routes, all right at your fingertips. Here are six sites and apps to tap next time you travel.
Strava’s Global Heatmap
Strava, the social network for active people, calls its Global Heatmap the “ultimate map of athlete playgrounds.” Enter your location in the search bar, and watch the map become aglow with the most popular running routes in a specific area. The brighter the line on the map, the more frequented the route, according to a collection of some 13 million GPS points posted by Strava’s 27 million members worldwide. Bonus: The Heatmap is accessible to anyone, so you can still access it even if you haven’t jumped on the Strava ship.
The venerable veteran among run tracker apps, there’s a reason this site has been around for more than a decade. MapMyRun uses built-in GPS to track where people have run in a particular place, so you can browse some 70 million crowdsourced routes. Seeking a specific distance? Check out the “Route Genius” option, which automatically generates a route based on the mileage you’re aiming for. Smart!
With this app, you can search for user-generated runs based on location, distance or elevation gain. Plus, its live tracking and cheering feature lets invited friends and family follow you on a map as you pound the pavement. So even if you’re heading out solo, you don’t have to feel totally alone.
This network links you to other athletes while providing a cache of local routes plus detailed feedback on your activity, including pace, heart rate and distance. Competitive runners will love the “route champion” feature, which crowns members who log the quickest time on a specific course.
If social running is more your thing, find a local group to log miles with IRL. Meetup lets you plug in the place you plan to run to discover groups that suit your style, from girls-only crews to city tours. Not only will there be safety in numbers, but you won’t have to worry about where exactly to run when you’re part of a crowd.
Feel like hitting the dirt? Check out some 50,000 routes around the country with this app that connects runners with the best local trails wherever they travel. Like a Yelp for runners, you can check out reviews and pics from people who have already traversed the trails, and filter your potential destination by its difficulty, distance and even dog-friendliness. Plus, the interactive maps show you all sorts of details about the course you choose, down to the air quality in the area. Now that’s a breath of fresh air.