The Best Columbus Running Trails for Marathons, 5Ks, Obstacle Courses and More

No matter your preferred race, you can find a good training ground among Central Ohio’s multipurpose paths.

Dave Ghose
Columbus Monthly
The Olentangy Trail at Antrim Park in Columbus

Are you a 5K fan? A marathon maven? A mud runner? No matter your favored foot race, you can find a Central Ohio running trail that suits you. Here are some options.

Train for Half and Full Marathons

Olentangy and Alum Creek trails

Huge training runs are possible on these lengthy, multiuse paths with smooth pavement, multiple access points and connections to other parks, allowing runners to avoid boredom by incorporating side trails.

Options for 5Ks and 10Ks

Sharon Woods Metro Park, Scioto Trail

Sharon Woods in Westerville boasts one of the best loop trails in the Metro Park system—a nearly 4-mile, paved path through forests and meadows with enough scenic beauty to warrant a second lap. For a more urban experience, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon director Darris Blackford suggests a 3-mile loop along the Scioto Trail in Downtown Columbus.

Try Trail Running

Highbanks Metro Park, Alum Creek State Park

ABC6/Fox 28 meteorologist Andrew Buck Michael, a devoted trail runner, recommends experimenting with off-road running on the crushed gravel trails of Highbanks in Lewis Center before shifting to the more challenging Rocks and Roots Trail at Alum Creek, also in Delaware County.

For Fans of Obstacle Courses

Scioto Audubon Metro Park

The Whittier Peninsula park includes a quarter-mile track with a tire flip, tunnel crawl, balance beams, monkey bars and other challenges you might find in Tough Mudder, Rugged Maniac and similar obstacle course races. To thrive in these competitions, however, Michael also recommends strength training or joining a climbing or ninja gym.

This story is from the March 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.