Summer has unofficially arrived in the 605, meaning there are ample opportunities to get off the sidewalks and streets and explore different running routes throughout our wonderful city and surrounding areas. I don’t know about you, but the dredges of winter running in Sioux Falls get real old, real fast. While I personally enjoy the cold weather and yes, even the snow, it does tend to limit the runnable routes, making our beloved sport start to seem redundant at times. Unless, of course, you are one who enjoys structure and familiarity, in which case, that’s ok, too!
Spring was a challenging time for our community, and I know so many of us are feeling the effects of social isolation and missing our group runs and running friends. I know I am. And while we are slowly easing back into some semblance of “normal”, it’s important to do so responsibly. So I decided to compile my top 10 list of favorite places to run, to help you add in some variety and mix up your workouts while we navigate this bizarre, changing landscape. Some of these routes will be familiar; I’m hoping others will spark some interest and inspire you to change up your routine, either running my favorite routes, or getting out there and finding you own!
#10. The Bike Trail. While I know the trail can get old, particularly in the winter, I do always enjoy logging some miles along the river. It is predictable, scenic, and mostly flat. As long as you stay away from the dreaded switchbacks and desolate stretch by the airport, of course.
#9. The Yankton Trail Park Loop. I think this has become a more popular area for runners over the past few years, as it actually somewhat resembles a track. Admittedly, I don’t know the distance all the way around, but it is a great location for speed workouts if you don’t happen to have easy access to a track. It’s generally well-lit and plenty spacious.
#8. DTSF down to Falls Park. There is something about running down Phillips Avenue and winding through the Falls that really inspires appreciation for the city I’ve grown up in. I love running by all the small, locally owned businesses that line Phillips Avenue, and dodging the people out walking around enjoying what they have to offer. Then, continuing on down through Falls Park and finishing with a walk across the bridge back to the shop. It’s the perfect quick, fun little loop and a great way to find new stores and restaurants!
#7. McKennan Park. This place is iconic and in the heart of Sioux Falls. The park itself is beautiful, but if you’re anything like me, you get just as much enjoyment looking at the unique architecture of the homes that are built in an historic part of the city. I highly recommended adding this stretch of pavement to an established route you may have mapped out in the area.
#6. Good Earth State Park. Sioux Falls Area Running Club has hosted Thursday night group runs here for as long as I have been a part of the running community. While the timing of when we can safely restart organized group running remains uncertain, you can still go out and enjoy the peace that is an inherent part of Good Earth. There are miles of well-groomed trails that are generally easy to navigate, and it truly doesn’t take much to all of the sudden have 10-12 miles under your feet before you even know it. Just make sure to respect other trail users, and make sure the trails are runnable so as not to damage them.
#5. The “Augie Route”. This route is mapped out by my good running buddy Glenda Bittner, and has been one of my favorite 5 mile loops since she first took me out on it. I have since run it with a number of different friends, and honestly, it’s probably the camaraderie that makes it one of my favorites, as scenically there’s nothing super special about it. I like to start at 605 Running Company and start straight out the gate going uphill on Phillips to 22nd street, cross Minnesota Ave and continue past Sanford Hospital, then turn south on West to 33rd, down the hill by Breadsmith Bakery (oh the smell of fresh-baked bread at 6 o’clock in the morning!) and finally coast down Dakota back to the shop.
#4. The streets of Tea. This may sound weird, but since moving out of Sioux Falls a couple of years ago, I have really enjoyed exploring this small town and have grown to appreciate the navigability of small town streets and general feeling of safety. While one downside is the lack of mature trees and subsequently, shade, I generally run when there is no sun, so…problem solved for me. It is a great mix of country gravel and city pavement.
#3. Newton Hills State Park. Runner beware: Newton is not for the faint of heart, especially if you’re like me, and trail-running is more of a hobby than a sport. While those experienced trail-runners used to technical trails may beg to differ, I find Newton Hills trails to be very challenging and a great way to throw something different into your routine. There is great elevation gain for being on the flat side of South Dakota, and moderate technicality with the relatively uneven surfaces and narrow trails. Once again, just remember to respect your fellow trail-users, as many of the trails are multiuse, with bike and horse traffic.
#2. Any gravel road. They are usually generally flat, if not with a few rolling hills for some added spice, and most are relatively devoid of much traffic. There’s something about a gravel road that is so peaceful while still interesting.
#1. Any route with friends. I mean c’mon, this is a given, right? Even when The Boss takes me up and down the “rolling hills” that are actually mountains in his neighborhood, it’s still a good time (though there may be a significant amount of complaining involved. I can’t help who I am!). And running with friends is the best way to find new, interesting pavement to log miles and get a change of scenery.
So there you have it, my personal rundown of all my favorite places to run. There are so many more that I didn’t include, mostly because I haven’t experienced them for myself. Like the relatively new Falls Area Single Track in Tuthill Park, or the Leader’s Park trails. Any way you slice it, there are plenty of ways to keep running interesting in our beloved city. Just download an app like Footpath (my personal favorite!) and you can create route after route and send yourself on a running adventure!
Stay safe, healthy, and happy out there, my fellow runners. I’m proud to belong to such a strong community of athletes and human beings <3.
Maren Ernst has been a contributor to 605 Running Company for four years. When not working at the shop Maren enjoys riding her bike or motorcycle, painting, reading and spending quality time with her friends and family.