Lehigh Valley is an ideal place for runners. A number of trails criss-cross the region, offering everything from solitude to spectacular vistas. With Runner’s World magazine published right here in Emmaus, it’s no surprise that Lehigh Valley boasts a strong running community ranging from Olympic hopefuls to weekend warriors.

In the past 10 years, I’ve logged nearly 13,000 miles on countless roads, trails and paths nationwide. Luckily, most of those miles have been in Lehigh Valley, where I’ve found three trails to be among my all-time favorites.

Lehigh Parkway

I’ve had people from California tell me that Lehigh Parkway is one of their favorite places to run, so you can only imagine how fortunate I feel to have it right here in Allentown. It’s essentially a three-mile-long linear park that runs along the Little Lehigh Creek. Well-maintained trails of finely crushed stone wind along each side of the creek, sometimes darting in and out of wooded areas. (A round-trip on the main trail is 6.05 miles.) A covered bridge, the sight of fly fishermen, minimal automobile traffic and frequent wildlife sightings make it one of the area’s most desirable running spots. In fact, Runner’s World has named it one of the top 100 places to run in the country. I’ll buy that.

Lehigh Canal Towpath

Ready to go long? The Lehigh Canal Towpath stretches from Allentown’s Canal Park all the way to the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers in Easton. It’s about 16 miles in length and nearly pancake flat. Most of the trail runs between the Lehigh River and a now-abandoned canal that used to haul industrial goods (mainly coal) from northern reaches of Pennsylvania to the Delaware River for transport to population centers. Surfaces vary from crushed stone to dirt to asphalt depending on the municipality you’re in. And the views range from secluded riverside areas to hulking blast furnaces.

Check back on Friday for the rest of my favorite running spots in Lehigh Valley.

This post was written by Lehigh Valley InSite guest blogger Michael Drabenstott, who also writes the Beyond Scrapple blog.