Best Running/Walking trails near Princeton

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Princeton has gorgeous parks and natural beauties all around. As the weather starts to cool off, getting your daily exercise outside can be a great way to appreciate the beauty of the changing leaves. Break up your routine by trying out all the different running and walking trails that Princeton has to offer. There are trails for more advanced runners, and others that are easy walking trails for people of all ages. Discover which one works for you.

  1.    Institute Woods: These trails are a little over one mile from downtown Princeton. You can park at the Princeton Battlefield State Park to find the trailhead. The Institute for Advanced Study owns the series of trails and keeps them well maintained. There are large clear-cut paths through the woods with crisscrossing trails for a variety of scenery. There are lots of trees providing excellent shading of those hot summer days. The entire loop is about 4 to 5 miles long all in the woods.
  2.    Mountain Lakes/Witherspoon Woods: These trails are also about one mile from downtown Princeton and are a little bit more rugged than the others. There is a large parking lot off of Mountain Avenue, where you can easily walk to the trailhead. The paths are cut for one of two people to pass at a time, and they are relatively hilly with plenty of twists and turns. There are protruding roots and rocks, so be careful if you’re prone to twisting an ankle. The rugged terrain is well worth it for the incredible views. You’ll get to run over creeks that feed Mountain Lake and marshlands with wildlife. There are several wooden plank paths that span over the marshes so you can get a better view of all of the life around you. Sunrise and sunset make this park glow with beautiful colors.
  3.    Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park: The D&R trails are closest to Princeton University. They are the longest and most heavily used trails in the Princeton area. The trails follow the canal making it a flatter pathway. You’ll see everyone from students to families on this pathway taking advantage of the scenery. There is plenty to see on the trails, from crew rowers, to the locks, and historical markers from the Revolutionary War. The constant change in scenery and different people helps to make for an interesting run. These trails also have mile markers to aid in keeping track of your distance. Because the trails are so heavily used, you can find parking almost anywhere along the route.
  4.    Lawrence Hopewell Trail: This massive trail is about 10-15 minutes from downtown Princeton. The LH Trails cover many miles, and can be broken down into smaller sections. Different portions of the trails are paved or gravel rock, and others are still being built. The newest section that was completed in September is the King’s Highway Segment. The Mercer Meadows portion is an excellent choice for runners. It has over 6-7 miles with a well-kept pathway. There are parking options all along the Mercer Meadows trails, giving runners the ability to change up their routines.

Trail running or walking is a great way to get your blood pumping to keep you healthy. Stay in shape while taking in all of the beauty around you. You’ll stubble upon hidden gems along the way and find even more reasons to love your city!

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