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Our Top Picks For Fall Running Routes

Updated: October 4, 2023

The leaves are falling, kids are back in school and you’re coming down from a non-stop, action-packed summer. Don’t let the frigid first days of fall stop you from staying active. It is a great excuse to create (or maintain) a running routine, which will keep you warm and healthy well into the autumn season.

We have put together something a bit different this month to inspire you to go out for a run. We have chosen our favourite running routes in St. Albert and one from each of the other areas we serve (Barrhead, Westlock, and Gibbons).

What makes a great running trail?

A good running trail features natural ground like grass or an unpaved path (without too many roots!) as the terrain is varied and no two steps are the same. Although it is tempting to run right out the back door, the problem with running on pavement is that it is a very hard surface. This increases the impact of running on the body, which can lead to injuries. As well, running on pavement lends itself to every step being the same as the step before and this constant repetition without variation can cause injury, pain and inflammation. If you can, run on the grassy areas beside the pavement on these routes, you will be doing your body a favour in the long run.

You might remember a post we did a couple of months ago about the proper running technique, the minimalist approach. Part of what we stressed was that running at a stride frequency of 180 strides/minute is ideal.

We hope you enjoy the rest of the fall and are inspired to keep fit with some of our favourite routes and tunes!

Our Favourite St. Albert Running Routes

Lois Hole Provincial Park Wetlands Trail (2.9km)

This route is perfect for those looking for a quick and rewarding run. If you are just starting to develop your running practice, you will be nicely distracted by the sights and sounds of nature on this short but lovely route!

Erin Ridge Ravine and Ted Hole Park Loop (3.2km)

Another short but sweet route that is primarily paved and perfect for enjoying the autumn colours!

Sturgeon River Running Route – Short (3.9km)

Looping around the river, this 3.8 km run in St. Albert is one of our favourites because it’s an easy one to fit into a busy day. You can start wherever is convenient for you!

Sturgeon River Running Route – Medium (6.7km)

If you’re looking for something a little bit longer, this route will take you along the Sturgeon River and offer some great bridges and scenery. This is an easy, paved route.

Bellrose River Trail (7.6km)

An open trail that follows the Sturgeon River. The path is paved and has a couple of hills for those looking for a little extra challenge.

Riverlot 56 Loop (9.9km)

A popular route with trails on both the East and West side of Sturgeon Road. On the West side, there is a small loop and a large loop and even some trails within that are less maintained. A good multi-use trail with plenty of options!

Sturgeon River Running Route – Long (10.2km)

Starting on the Sturgeon River, this 10km is perfect for a long run or marathon training.

Red Willow Trail (16km)

Although this trail says it’s 16km, one of the reasons we like it so much is because you are not obligated to do the whole loop. You can park somewhere along the path and only do the partial loop, or cross the river at one of the many bridges and turn back early. This is an easily accessible, multi-use, paved path.

St. Albert Perimeter Trail (23.2km)

For the experienced runner, this is a moderate trail that will give you great views of St. Albert.

If you’re looking to explore some new running routes on your own, we recommend checking out Chickakoo Lake which has multiple trails to choose from. St. Albert also has a beautiful and nicely paved path that traverses through the ravines from Forest Park to Red Willow Park.

Our Favourite Running Routes Outside St. Albert

Barrhead Fall Running Route (4.4km)

Map of Barrhead autumn run route

A loop around the town, this route is quick and varied with a moderate ascent of 14 metres to challenge those calves.

Westlock Fall Running Route (3.8km)

Map of Westlock Autumn Run Route

This 3.8 km route has ample grass to run on, as it follows the railway tracks south. Take advantage of the terrain and protect your joints!

Gibbons Fall Running Route (3.0km)

Map of Gibbons Autumn Run Route

A short but strenuous 3 Km loop with 21 metres of ascension. This route around Echo Glen Park will keep your heart rate up.

Local St. Albert & Surrounding Area Running Groups

If you are looking for some motivation, and group running is more your thing, Edmonton and St. Albert have many opportunities to join in on a social running club. Here are some that we recommend:

  1. St. Albert Road Runners & Triathlon Club:  This non-profit is made up of St. Albert area residents dedicated to providing beginner and seasoned runners and triathletes with a safe, challenging and fun training environment. Membership required!
  2. The Running Room Run Club St. Albert (Wednesday 6:00 pm): Runners and walkers of all abilities are welcome to join this social running group that meets twice weekly on a drop-in basis. Everyone is welcome. The larger group is split into several sub-groups according to pace so that no one is intimidated or left behind. A group leader will take you and your squad on a route that is suitable for your abilities. This group is also free!

We hope this encourages you to get out there before the snowy season begins! If you have any questions, or you’re suffering from a running-related injury, we’re here to answer your call — get in touch with us or book an appointment today.

Have a safe autumn from all of us at Summit Physiotherapy & Massage Therapy!