All around the South Sound, runners find joy on the trails. Weaving through scenic forests, passing along the salty shore and taking in the views of the region’s mountains, it is little wonder why this area is becoming a fantastic destination for trail runners and trail races. While training runs on the trails are fun, the experiences found at a trail race are awesome, bringing together an already supportive and welcoming community and turning their energy into a celebration of accomplishment and sport.

While there are hundreds of trails races through the year to sign up for and run, we have picked a few local adventure runs that are perfect for runners of all abilities. Whether you want to run a 5K or a 50K, or something in between, this handful of races is sure to get you off the roads and onto the trails.

Tehaleh Trail Half Marathon, 10k & 5k

For the better part of the last decade, the Tehaleh trail race has been a fun adventure for local trail runners in Pierce County. With a 5k, a 10k and a half marathon option, this loop course offers views of Mount Rainier while exploring the trails of the planned community in the Highland Forest. Taking place on September 21, 2019, this run is quickly approaching and is a great way to kick off the fall season.

Trail runs in Pierce County
There is something amazing that happens when you start running the trails in and around Pierce County. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

Defiance 50k / 30k / 15k

We all love the trails at Point Defiance, so it makes sense that one of the best trail races in the region would take place there. Known as the Defiance 50k / 30k / 15k, three races give trail runners an opportunity to explore and enjoy the old growth forests and Puget Sound views while running on single track. Taking place on October 12, 2019, this race is quickly approaching and makes for the perfect fall day. This is a loop race, with each loop actually being 1.6k in length and having 1,306 feet of elevation gain per loop.

Dash Point State Park Trail Run

On March 21, 2020, trail runners will take on the incredible trails in the forest trails around Dash Point State Park. With cushy, well-maintained and non-technical trails, this great trail race is a fun introduction to trail running for 10k runners and a nice adventure run for those looking for do a half marathon. Along the course, you’ll catch glimpses of Maury and Vashon Islands and the Olympic Mountains above the speaking waters of the Puget Sound. More information on the upcoming race can be found on the Evergreen Trail Runs website.

Dupont Trail Marathon and Dupont Endurance Challenge

Down in Dupont, the trails become alive with the sound of runners twice a year. From September 26 – 29 at Sellers Park, the Dupont Endurance Challenge will take place. The challenge? See how long you can run. With a 24-hour, 48-hour and 72-hour option, you can decide how long you’d like to try to run, walk, eat and sleep through the trails of DuPont. If that seems too intense, wait until 2020 and enjoy the Dupont Trail Marathon. With a 12k, a half marathon and full marathon option along the trails of Dupont, this option is a great intro to the sport. Full information on both can be found on the trail organizers website.

Trail Runs Tacoma
Trail races give you a chance to explore paths in the scenic destinations of the region. Photo credit: Defiance 50k

Little Backyard Adventure

Down in Olympia, just a half hour drive from downtown Tacoma, the Little Backyard Adventure Race is a trail running event for all. Offering three distances of loops for runners of all ages and abilities, this race is technical enough to challenge experienced runners, while enjoyable enough to be a first trail race. You can choose between a 3.6-mile loop, three loops for 11 miles, or the five-loop option for 18 miles. The next running of this twisting, turning trail race will take place in 2020, so make sure you add it to your race calendar at the start of the year.

Vashon Island Ultra and Trail Run

With 10 years under its belt, the Vashon Island Ultra and Trail Run is a classic race for trail runners of the region. The courses for the two races, a 50k and a 10-mile run, are like all of Vashon, rolling with hills and downright gorgeous. Runners can expect a great amount of single and double track park trails, as well as a few sections of dirt roads, gravel driveways, grass shoulders and short sections of paved road. The next running should be in late spring of 2020, but check the race website to make sure you know the date when it is announced.

Trail running
With some trail races big and others small, you’ll be able to find the perfect event for you and your running ability. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

Rainier to Ruston

With registration opening in the fall of 2019, the Rainier to Ruston run is a classic and sure to be a favorite for your running squad. Taking place on May 30, 2020, the 18th annual, 50-mile race will give you bragging rights unlike any other race. Starting near the Carbon River Entrance of Mount Rainier National Park, the run goes all the way to the finish line at Marine Park on Tacoma’s Ruston Way. For this run, you can have teams of 2, 3, 4 or 6 runners to run the 12 legs of the race, or do it solo and be recognized as crazy and awesome at the finish line. This race is one of the best ways to see Pierce County and a fun way to bond with your friends. Check the website for registration to open.