“Running hills breaks up your rhythm and forces your muscles to adapt to different stresses. The result? You become a stronger runner.” — Eamonn Coughlin
Runners should expect what organizers say will be a “mud bath” at this race, a 13.1-mile trek through the woods of Washington’s 91,600-acre Capitol State Forest, which lies just five miles from the streets of nearby Olympia.
March • Olympia, WA
Filled with cascading waterfalls, gorges, streams, creeks and hardwood forests — including the tallest waterfall in the eastern United States, the 256-ft. waterfall that gives this 20,000-acre park its name — Fall Creek Falls State Park plays host to this race each year.
March • Pikeville, TN
Run through the challenging hills and trails of Sloan Canyon in the spring each year, this race features plenty of single-track technical trails, which start running uphill right after you leave the starting line.
March • Henderson, NV
Roanoke’s Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Half takes runners on an out-and-back loop course that starts and finishes in downtown Roanoke and features towering (and oh-so-challenging) hills through the city’s Mill Mountain Park.
April • Roanoke, VA
You’ll run off-road trails through the hilly mountain wilderness of the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base at this springtime race, which climbs some 1,280 feet over the course of the half.
April • Camp Pendleton, CA
Described by race organizers as “the toughest half marathon in the Northwest,” the Race to Robie Creek lives up to its reputation with a steadily climbing rise in elevation from the first mile all the way to the 8.5-mile point.
April • Boise, ID
Runners are set to follow a fast, stunningly scenic and all-downhill course at this race, which starts in Kyle Canyon just outside the city and finishes at Centennial Hills Park in Las Vegas.
April • Las Vegas, NV
A stunningly gorgeous run through the canyon country of southeastern Utah awaits runners at this race, which unfolds along an ancient geological formation that stretches some 80 miles across the Colorado Plateau.
May • Blanding, UT
With a course that takes runners through the Red Rock National Conservation Area located about 15 miles west of Las Vegas, the race course area can be easily seen from the Strip and is visited by well over a million people each year.
May • Las Vegas, NV
Towering mountains, green hillsides and valleys, and the waves crashing along the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean are just some of the scenery runners will see at this race between Ojai and Ventura in Southern California.
May • Ventura, CA
Run along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, the nearly 20-mile-long greenway trail built on an old railroad corridor that connects Greenville with the nearby town of Travelers Rest, S.C., at this race that finishes overlooking the Reedy River.
May • Greenville, SC
When you run the long, gradual uphill climb that serves as the half marathon route here, you’ll see why so many skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts make the trip here every winter and hikers, mountain bikers, golfers and fishermen trek here in the summer.
May • Red River, NM
Billed by the race organizers as “one of the toughest marathons in the United States,” this race features a course that definitely lives up to its reputation, with a steep climb from the starting line to the half-way point in the race of roughly 1,000 feet in elevation.
May • Prescott, AZ
Hilly and challenging with more than 1,800 feet of climbs and descents, this race offers the chance to run through Huddart County Park, nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains just south of San Francisco.
May • Woodside, CA
You’ll start this stunningly picturesque race through Northern California’s High Sierras at roughly 9,000 feet above sea level, and follow a route that runs along a combination of trails and mountain roads — including stretches around lakes and across a bridge.
June • Mammoth Lakes, CA
Run where California and Nevada meet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at this race, which follows a point-to-point route that starts at Spooner Summit and then heads downhill, dropping more than 700 feet in elevation by the time you reach the finish line.
June • Stateline, NV
Run among the roads and trails of California’s famed Squaw Valley Ski Resort, the home of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games, this race unfolds through some of the most stunningly beautiful mountain scenery you can find.
June • Olympic Valley, CA
As they’re cresting the hills of this 1,822-acre forest, which is filled with wooded forests, wetland areas and wide-open meadows filled with wildflowers, runners get to set their sights on the park’s panoramic views of Mount Rainier.
June • Issaquah, WA
You’ll get to run through some of the most stunning scenery the Lake Tahoe area has to offer as you make your way along single-track trails for much of the race, especially the sections after you enter the Waddle Ranch Preserve.
June • Truckee, CA
You’re likely going to be very, very sore the day after you finish the 13.1 miles between Jonas Ridge and Mortimer, N.C., that make up this race, as the elevation drops more than 2,000 feet from the start to the finish line.
July • Jonas Ridge, NC
Run in the waning weeks of summer here in this beautifully scenic and peaceful mountain retreat in western North Carolina, this race takes runners along quiet mountain roads just west of Asheville and nestled between the Pisgah National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
August • Canton, NC
The unbelievably difficult marathon that is run here every August — which Jeff Galloway has called one of the world’s toughest — got its start back in the 1950s, and it was even the first marathon to welcome women, at a time when women were shunned from races like the Boston Marathon.
August • Manitou Springs, CO
Described by its race organizers as “punishing, unforgiving,” and yet “ridiculously beautiful,” this race is all that and more — with some 1,900 feet of elevation climb in just the first three miles of the half marathon route.
August • Eden, UT
Ready for a mostly downhill race through the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, where there will be beer from 50 local breweries on hand to try at the finish line?
August • Durango, CO
Run through Maine’s Acadia National Park, whose 47,000 acres encompass most of the island on which it sits, this race is the only one of its kind that actually runs through the grounds of a U.S. national park.
September • Bar Harbor, ME
With its combination of road stretches through Colorado’s Breckenridge Village and much longer stretches along the wooded, mountainous trails just outside the town center, this race welcomes a few hundred runners each year.
September • Breckenridge, CO
A gorgeously scenic run through the Blue Ridge Mountains that straddle the Tennessee-North Carolina, this race follows a very gradual climb near the entrance to the national park just outside Knoxville.
September • Maryville, TN
A few hundred runners cross the finish line each year at this race, which takes runners on a point-to-point course that ascends the hilly, challenging trail of the mountain it is named for in the Palouse region of northern Idaho.
September • Moscow, ID
Often called “the world’s toughest half marathon,” this race takes runners all the way from the edge of Sterns Wharf all the way up to La Cumbra Peak, which overlooks the city and the water from an elevation of nearly 4,000 feet.
September • Santa Barbara, CA
Get ready for a challenging hill climb up to the summit of Mount Wachusett at this early autumn race, which winds its way through a scenic state forest just over an hour’s drive west from nearby Boston.
September • Princeton, MA
It’s known as one of the toughest half marathons in the state, a race that runs from the town of Badin up to the top of the namesake mountain in Morrow Mountain State Park.
September • Badin, NC
Challenging climbs along scenic mountain trails as well as long stretches along lakeside roads just north of Lake Tahoe in Northern California await runners at this race
September • Truckee, CA
Stunningly spectacular scenery awaits runners who make their way through Utah’s Dry Fork Canyon at this race, with red rock formations rising up along the roadway and the hills and mountains of the Colorado Plateau off in the distance.
September • Vernal, UT
Mountains, forests and single-track dirt trails through the wilderness – that’s what awaits at this race, a trail run that winds among the Bighorn Mountains of northern Wyoming that surround Eatons’ Ranch, the oldest operating dude ranch in the West.
September • Wolf, WY
You’ll run through the region known as “Panoramaland” for its stunning scenery of red rock formations, canyons and mountains at this race, which lies within short driving distance of several national parks and monuments.
October • Richfield, UT
You’ll run the hills and mountains of this small town nestled in the foothills of the Sierras of Northern California, with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and canyons, less than an hour’s drive from the state capital in Sacramento.
October • Cool, CA
You’ll run among the roads and forest trails of New York’s Adirondack Mountains at this race, which like the full marathon and 5K unfolds along an out-and-back course that starts and finishes just north of this tiny hamlet.
October • Old Forge, NY
A great race for trail runners or those looking for a new challenge, the Catalina Island Eco Half Marathon features gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean, rugged terrain and lots of elevation change.
November • Avalon, CA
A stunning – and all-downhill – race inside Colorado National Monument, this event shows off the park’s stunning multi-colored rock formations and canyon walls span more than 20,000 acres near Colorado’s border with Utah.
November • Grand Junction, CO
Get ready to run through what locals call “the friendliest town in the South” at this race, which pulls off a rare feat — it’s run through the mountains of western North Carolina but it features some of the flattest terrain you can find.
November • Tryon, NC