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Everywhere you go in Jacksonville, you’ll find avid runners zipping along sidewalks, trails, and beaches. It’s a destination made for runners with stunning views, cool breezes, oak covered roads, and a fitness culture that makes you want to head outdoors and hit the trails.
Here are the top spots for obtaining a runner’s high in the Bold New City of the South.
Expanding along the St. Johns River, the Riverwalk perfectly combines the serenity of the water with the urban core’s upbeat vibe. Perhaps the most popular running route in Jacksonville, joggers begin at the YMCA in Historic Brooklyn and head toward the San Marco Southbank. Crossing two pedestrian bridges to traverse downtown creates a perfect five mile out-and-back loop. Most of this route curves around glittering water.
Keep cool in the shade of the oceanfront homes along Beach Avenue as you watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean. Beginning at the Beaches Town Center near One Ocean Resort in Atlantic Beach, this breezy avenue spans 22 blocks. Out-and-back, the route is a 5.5K, filled with joggers and bicyclists of all skill levels at every hour of the day. The midpoint of this running route scales the 19th Street hill, a hot skateboarding spot known for its surprisingly steep incline.
The Baldwin Rail Trail is an expanse of railroad track converted to a 14.5 mile running trail. Beneath the oak and pine trees’ branches, runners and bikers zoom down this 12-foot-wide forested path. Runners are likely to spot native Florida wildlife on the trail’s sidelines, including horses, birds, and some snakes. This rail-trail combines the best of both worlds—a long, smooth trail in the midst of a woodland, filled with the aroma of freshly-fallen pine needles.
Like the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, the S-Line is an old railway transformed into a wide, paved trail for runners, walkers, and bikers alike. Located in the outskirts of downtown Jacksonville, this 5k begins in the Durkeeville area and winds through Historic Springfield, a neighborhood with one of the largest collections of Victorian homes in the Southeast.
Why stick to the pavement when you could jog along the sand? At low tide, Neptune Beach’s smooth shore is filled with runners whose only obstacles are tidepools and sandcastles. Just under 4K out-and-back, the length of this small beach town makes a quick, scenic running route. Jog the span of the beach with the ocean and sand dunes at your sides as the seagulls soar above. Afterward, take a dip in the waves at Seagate Avenue, a popular surfing destination among the locals.
Considered the toughest running route in Jacksonville, the trail at the Timucuan Preserve’s Theodore Roosevelt Area snakes through the highest elevations in Jacksonville. The hills along the trail rush back down to the marshlands, where manatee sightings are common in the Springtime. Amateur runners beware: this six-mile loop spans rough terrain covered in exposed oak and pine tree roots, creating a stunning wooded path.
Cutting through the middle of the Timucuan Preserve, amidst the beauty of local State Parks, the A1A Trail connects Big Talbot Island to Little Talbot Island on a paved path surrounded by marshes, wild vegetation, and the occasional wildlife encounter with a tortoise, and hundreds of different bird species. There are parking lots by the trail and it is protected from traffic by vegetation and barriers making it very safe for long distance runners.