10 Gorgeous Fall Foliage Runs in Massachusetts
Soak in the autumnal beauty while you get a workout.
This fall, why not give your eyes and your legs a workout during your leaf peeping adventures? Massachusetts’ famous foliage will transform some of the state’s trails and running routes into picture-perfect vistas this season, and you won’t want to miss out.
To find the best options out there, we consulted Brookline’s Mark Lowenstein, the chief running officer at Great Runs, an online resource that helps you locate beautiful runs in cities all over the world. Below, Lowenstein’s 10 best foliage runs in Massachusetts. Click each link for more information about the route and mileage.
The Emerald Necklace: You can’t lose when following this 10-mile-long greenway that stretches from the State House to Franklin Park. “The Comm. Ave. Mall, Jamaica Pond, and the Arnold Arboretum are particularly gorgeous in the fall,” Lowenstein adds.
Battle Road Trail: Soak in the scenery and get a history lesson, all in one. “This five-mile trail connects historic sites from Meriam’s Corner, in Concord, to Minuteman National Park, in Lexington, traversing farming fields, wetlands, and forests,” Lowenstein says.
Lake Waban and Wellesley College Campus: “One of the most beautiful college campuses in the country is a special treat at the height of autumn,” Lowenstein says. Jog around the 2.75-mile path that encircles Lake Waban, then strike out on your own to follow the paved trails snaking around the campus.
Great Brook Farm and Cranberry Bog: Head out to Carlisle to enjoy this combo deal. “There is nothing quite like the views of cranberries at harvest,” Lowenstein says. After you’ve soaked in the sights, jog or drive the 1.5 miles to Great Brook Farm State Park, which is chock full of great running trails.
World’s End: When you run in this Olmsted-designed park overlooking Hingham Harbor, you won’t just enjoy the fall foliage. You’ll also get lovely views of the water and the Boston skyline in the distance.
Blue Hills Reservation: This 7,000-acre reservation boasts 125 miles of trails in all, so take your pick. “Look for the wider, flat trails on the map,” Lowenstein recommends. “For a real challenge, the one-mile Summit Road is closed to cars and has 365 feet of elevation gain averaging a 10 to 12 percent grade.”
Apple Orchard Runs: Everybody goes apple picking in the fall, but you can kick your autumn tradition up a notch with three running routes in the orchard towns of Harvard, Stow, and Bolton. Lowenstein says there are five- and 10-mile options from the Apple Harvest Ramble, in Harvard, as well as a route along the new Assabet River Rail Trail.
Lenox and Tanglewood: The Berkshires region is practically mecca for leaf peepers, so Lowenstein recommends a run traversing the grounds at Tanglewood and the trails at Kennedy Park, 2.5 miles away. It’s “a great mix for fall,” but beware: It’s hilly.
Norman Rockwell Route: “A list of classic fall New England runs wouldn’t be complete without a tribute to Norman Rockwell,” Lowenstein says. “Enjoy the trails on the 36-acre grounds of the Norman Rockwell Museum, and then follow the footsteps of one of Rockwell’s favorite bike routes on the well-shouldered Route 102 or Averic Road.”
Lanesborough Run: “This one’s a bit off the beaten track,” Lowenstein says, but it’s a great way to “experience the Berkshire woods in all their unspoiled glory.” The route follows a hilly and quiet five-mile route through the Western Massachusetts town of Lanesborough. Note that most of the path is unpaved.
Need more ideas? Check out Lowenstein’s list of 13 hidden gem routes around Boston.