A Quick & Dirty Guide to Winston-Salem's Trail Running Scene
Written by Ann Gibson for Matcha in partnership with OrthoCarolina
If you want to get into trail running in Winston-Salem, you don’t have to look for long to find a place to plug in. Most Triad running stores offer training programs, and there’s usually at least one brewery or club run every night of the week. If the adrenaline rush of racing motivates you, there are options for all four seasons.
Choose a race, and then come up with your training plan from our list of Winston-Salem’s top mountain, park, and garden runs. It’s time to hit the trails in Winston-Salem.
Bur-Mil Park Trails
The easy trails of Bur-Mil Park on Lake Brandt are a great place to launch your trail running efforts. Start on the 0.8-mile Little Loop Trail, and then build your distance to two miles on Big Loop. Next comes Owl’s Roost, a 4.3-mile run along the lake that rewards your effort with beautiful water views. As you progress, connect the loops for a total of more than seven miles.
Deep River Trail
Another spot that’s perfect for building distance is the trail network around the Piedmont Environmental Center. The backbone of this run is the paved, 3.5-mile Bicentennial Greenway that connects the 2.3-mile Deep River Trail to other loops for a total of 6.6 miles along the city lake in High Point.
Wake Forest University & Reynolda Gardens Trails
You can run more than six miles of smooth, groomed trails on the rolling cross-country route that traverses Wake Forest University. It’s a perfect spot for endurance training if you tack on up to 22 miles around Graylyn Conference Center. Change it up for your next run by adding 3.9 miles on the Reynolda Village Trail.
Stone Mountain State Park offers 18 miles of moderately technical trails that take you through fields and forests where you’ll likely see deer, fox, raccoons, and turkeys. You can’t miss the park’s iconic 600-foot granite dome that draws climbers here from all over the southeast. A great place to start is on the 4.5-mile Stone Mountain Loop past a historic homestead and 200-foot waterfall. An additional half mile out and back to Lower and Upper Falls is well worth the trip, while the Cedar Rock/Wolf Rock loop adds 2.5 miles to stunning vistas across the Blue Ridge escarpment.
The wide, smooth, seven-mile loop around Salem Lake offers some of the best terrain for beginners in Winston-Salem. Gradual ups and down, along with water stations and mile markers, make it easy to pace yourself. There’s plenty of shade in the summer, plus you’ll be distracted by the lake vistas the whole way through.
Reedy Fork TrailFor a more technical challenge, run the 3.5-mile Reedy Fork along the north shores of Lake Townsend. The dense tree canopy provides continuous shade, making this trail another great option when you’re training in the heat.
Laurel Bluff Trail
Running parallel to the Reedy Fork Trail on the opposite side of Lake Townsend is the 3.5-mile Laurel Bluff Trail, another shady run with constant water views. Increase your distance on this out-and-back route by adding 1.2 miles on the Crockett Trail and another 0.7 miles on the West House Trail.
Start in Bryan Park to run the 3.8-mile Townsend Trail, one of a handful of trails reserved for hiking and trail running only. You’ll hug the south edge of Lake Townsend to Yanceyville Road, where you can turn around, or pick up the Osprey Trail to add another 2.3 miles. If that’s not enough, a short stretch on N. Church St. takes you to more than 40 miles of additional trails all the way around Lake Brandt.
Mayo Mountain Loop Trail
Beginners who want to work up to more technical terrain without extreme distance are going to love this short and scenic trail. Rocks and roots along this trail will test your balance and up your game. The easy two-mile run takes you under thin tree cover in Mayo River State Park, with a portion of your run following a shallow creek that runs off the Mayo River.
There are plenty of opportunities to race on the trails around Winston-Salem, with distances to suit everyone from first-time competitors to ultra runners. Run at the Rock tests your trail skills on well-marked and hilly seven- and 14-mile courses, while the Triple Lakes Trail Race takes you through more moderate terrain at Bur-Mil Park on half-marathon, marathon, and 40-mile routes.
The Owl’s Roost Rumble travels the beautiful trails along Winston’s watershed lakes. Beginners can master the four-mile course, while more advanced runners compete in the half marathon. Another race with options is the Historic Hillsborough Half Marathon and 5K, taking you through the historic town and along a section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. The ancient Uwharrie Mountains southeast of Winston-Salem are the backdrop for grueling eight-, 20-, and 40-mile races on the Uwharrie Mountain Run.
Running Groups & Gear
With stores in Winston-Salem, High Point, and Greensboro, locally owned Fleet Feet has you covered when it comes to gear, Gu, and group runs. Each location hosts weekly events for distance runners, beginners, and triathletes. There’s even a trails-only running group. Their Living Fit program balances out all that running with strength training, yoga, and other cross-training workouts.
Written by Ann Gibson for Matcha in partnership with OrthoCarolina.