Whether you are from central Pennsylvania or just moved to the area, there are a plethora of interesting parks and beautiful running trails to explore nearby. Whether you are an experienced runner or are just curious about the sport, the variety of running locations in the Harrisburg area means there are many different running trails able to accommodate a variety of skill levels and abilities.
Some runners may prefer to stick to paved, urban routes, while others prefer the ambiance of nature trails. The Harrisburg area has many different options for every type of runner from paved paths to municipal parks and stunning nature conservancies.
Running and walking are great habits to practice, especially when done outside and in nature. Studies have shown that people who run outdoors burn more calories, build more muscle, sustain fewer injuries, have more energy and have better heart health than their counterparts who run on treadmills.
In addition to its many physical benefits, running outdoors can have social benefits as well. Joining a running club, like the Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club (HARRC) and River Runners, is a great way to make new friends. Group runs can also be great motivators!
The Harrisburg area is rich with great running trails. We’ve rounded up some of the best options for you.
Capital Area Greenbelt is one of the most popular and beloved places to run in the Harrisburg area. The Greenbelt consists of a looped walking and running trail about 20 miles in length. It winds through and around much of the city of Harrisburg itself. Greenbelt tends to appeal most to dedicated walkers and runners who are primarily interested in safe, outdoor exercise.
The Greenbelt is free to access, and it is a desired running destination for several reasons. Due to the length of the trail, it passes through several different parks, residential neighborhoods and commercial areas. As a result, you can easily access the Greenbelt from many different locations throughout the city. Parking is safe and plentiful, and public restrooms can be found at several key locations along the trail.
Most of the Greenbelt is paved, and a significant length of the trail runs along the east side of the picturesque Susquehanna River. Find a map of the Greenbelt here.
Wildwood Park is one of several parks connected to the Capital Area Greenbelt. However, Wildwood has much, much more to offer runners and walkers aside from the Greenbelt. Wildwood Park is a beautiful, diverse park and nature center that offers. This park includes seven unique walking and running trails, which vary in difficulty and terrain. At least two of Wildwood’s nature trails are ADA-accessible.
Wildwood Park is a great option for runners who want to be in nature. It is conveniently located just outside downtown Harrisburg. Thanks to its many amenities, such as public restrooms, a nature center, gift shop and guided tours, Wildwood is a great option for new and experienced runners alike. It is located at 100 Wildwood Way, Harrisburg, PA 17110.
Like Wildwood, Reservoir Park is also part of the Capital Area Greenbelt. Free to access, it is the largest municipal park in Harrisburg. It is about 85 acres in total, which makes it a popular location for events, parties, outdoor performances and festivals. Nestled in the Allison Hill neighborhood, Reservoir Park is a safe and popular location for runners. Its paved trail offers stunning vistas of the Harrisburg skyline, Susquehanna River and surrounding mountains. It is especially beautiful during the fall season when the foliage changes!
Reservoir Park, which is free for anyone to visit, appeals to Harrisburg locals and visitors alike. The National Civil War Museum is also located on the park grounds. This museum draws visitors from around the country and is an interesting feature of the park.
There are also a number of art installations and sculptures to be found throughout Reservoir Park. As such, this park is a wonderful option for runners who may want to take in the local culture and community feeling of the Harrisburg area. Reservoir Park is located at 100 Concert Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17103.
Running parallel to the Susquehanna River, Riverfront Park spans about 4.5 miles, making it a preferred running destination for runners who equally appreciate urban routes and nature trails. Riverfront is truly a happy medium between the two. Its relatively short length makes this park desirable for walkers, beginner runners and/or short distance runners.
It also connects to both the Capital Greenbelt and City Island, so long distance-runners may find Riverfront Park equally pleasing. Its location next to the Susquehanna makes Riverfront Park an especially beautiful and tranquil running trail from which to take in the beauty of Harrisburg.
Riverfront Park is free to access. Because it is safe, well-paved and well-maintained, it is a dynamic option for runners and walkers of all abilities. Plentiful nearby parking and its close proximity to downtown Harrisburg also make Riverfront a popular destination for a diverse array of people.
Visitors can access both the Market Street Bridge and Walnut Street Bridge from within the park; both of these bridges connect to City Island, a lovely park and great running locale in its own right. Access Riverfront Park via N. Front Street, between Paxton Street and Vaughn Street South.
City Island is a 63-acre park located on a literal island in the middle of the Susquehanna River. It is accessible directly from Riverfront Park by the Market Street Bridge and the Walnut Street Bridge. As such, City Island is a highly popular year-round destination for runners and walkers and anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors.
There is very little automobile traffic on City Island, which makes it a great, safe option for runners and all types of pedestrians. Because it is accessible by foot via the two different bridges, you always have the option of parking on the mainland and/or using public transportation before starting on foot.
Once in City Island, runners have access to a scenic nature path, which is heavily shaded, making it an ideal running route for days that are especially sunny or hot. City Island is home to FNB Stadium and the Harrisburg Senators, so it can get very busy on game days. Also on the island are batting cages, an arcade, a marina, mini-golf, a cafe and public restrooms. You can find City Island located at 1 Riverside Drive, Harrisburg, PA. 17101.
Fort Hunter Park is a historical site in Harrisburg, comprising a number of 18th and 19th-century historical buildings,along with a lovely 40-acre park along the Susquehanna. While the Fort Hunter Mansion is now run as a historical house museum with an entrance fee, the park itself is free to access and is open to the public.
As a running-specific location, Fort Hunter Park is slightly less popular than most of the other locations on this list, making it a great option for runners who want a bit more privacy (though it can get busy at certain times of the year). Leashed dogs are welcome in some areas, and the park offers stunning views of the river. Keep in mind that Fort Hunter Park does not offer some common amenities, such as public restrooms. You can access it from 5300 North Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110.
For those who love being in nature and cross country running, Boyd Big Tree Preserve is arguably the best place to run near Harrisburg. It will especially appeal to runners who appreciate the choice of eight different trails, which vary in difficulty. Amazingly, such a wonderfully preserved expanse of nature and wildlife exists this close to Harrisburg city center.
Boyd Big encompasses about 1,025 acres of conserved land and a 12-mile long system of trails. In addition to running, walking and hiking, Boyd Big is a popular destination for kayaking, biking, fishing, bird-watching and a variety of other outdoor activities. Given its status as a natural preserve, Boyd Big’s trails are considered primitive, and they are not ADA-accessible. Enter the preserve from its large parking lot, which is located at 401 Fishing Creek Valley Road, Harrisburg, PA 17112.
Adams-Ricci Community Park is an 82-acre multi-use park in East Pennsboro Township. There you can find tennis and pickleball courts, basketball and volleyball courts, batting cages, horseshoe pits, a butterfly garden, drink and vending options, public restrooms and a pavilion.
As a running destination, Adams-Ricci will appeal due to its five different trail loops, which together measure about 3 miles in length. Trails are paved asphalt with little slope, making them a great option for beginner runners or anyone looking for a less intense walk or run.
Adams-Ricci Community Park is truly a community park. It is a well-loved gathering place and host to a weekly farmers market. This park could be the perfect fit for runners new to the Harrisburg area. Access Adams-Ricci Park from 100 East Penn Drive, Enola, PA 17025.
With just over 13.5 acres of parkland, Skyline Commons Park is another wonderful community gathering place, great for runners of any skill level and ability. Like most of the parks on this list, Skyline Commons is a multi-use space that will appeal to people of all ages and interests. Runners and walkers will be most interested in its nature/walking trail, which winds throughout the park.
Skyline Commons Park also includes desirable park amenities like water fountains, public restrooms, a pavilion and charcoal grills. In addition to its activity-based offerings, such as the shuffleboard and basketball courts, the children’s playground and a multi-purpose field, among others. Nearby parking is plentiful and accessible. Enter the park at 305 Short Street, Harrisburg, PA 17112.
Negley Park is well-known and beloved for its high perch above the city and corresponding sweeping views of the river and Harrisburg skyline. It’s very hilly, so running in Negley is sure to be a more intense muscle-burning workout than some of the other locations on this list.
Negley Park itself only includes about 2 miles of running trails, so you may wonder why it is on this list. While many runners prefer to be in nature, there are, of course, some runners and walkers who prefer to do so in a more urban environment. This type of hilly, urban running may appeal especially to those who are training for road races. If you are interested in running on the street, consider parking at Negley, then running through the surrounding neighborhoods.
Not only will you get the benefit of an intense workout, but you will also be able to take in the stunning architecture and beautiful homes in this part of the city. Be sure to run with extra caution, as there will be vehicle traffic on the roads. Negley Park is located at 418 Cumberland Road, Lemoyne, PA 17043.
Located in Mechanicsburg, Creekview Park is a 36-acre expanse that includes a paved trail ideal for walking or running. Surrounded by trees and greenery, Creekview offers plenty of shade for runners, making it an especially appealing option during the hot summer season, though the park is open year-round.
As a safe, clean and well-maintained park, Creekview is a great option for families or groups of people with mixed interests. Here you can find pickleball, tennis and basketball courts, a horseshoe pit, multiple soccer fields, as well as amenities like two pavilions, electric grills and public restrooms.
Because it is located near several running-friendly neighborhoods, this park can also be a good option for runners who want to combine a trail and street run. Access Creekview Park from 4630 Creekview Rd. Mechanicsburg, PA 17050.
Siebert Park, located just outside Harrisburg in Camp Hill, is notable for its very traditional running trail– in fact, it’s not a trail, but an athletic running track! If you are interested in running on a track, this is the best option for you that can be found in the Harrisburg area.
A 60-acre municipal park, Siebert is free for anyone to access. And if track running isn’t your style, Siebert Park also encompasses a large, open-use athletic field and a wooded, half-mile trail leading out to Conodoguinet Creek. There’s something to make every type of runner happy at Siebert! Families and groups can enjoy its many other amenities as well, such as its basketball and volleyball courts, tennis courts, pavilion, arboretum and even a public swimming pool! Find Seibert Park at 427 N 25th Street, Camp Hill, PA 17011.
Dress For The Weather: Before you head out for a run, it’s a good idea to check the weather. Dressing appropriately for the weather will make you feel more comfortable on your run. Proper clothing is also an important safety consideration. It will keep you from overheating on hot days, dry on rainy days and warm in the chilly fall and winter months.
Invest in High-Quality, Well-Fitting Shoes: For runners, supportive, well-fitting running shoes are the single most important piece of wardrobe. Most sporting goods stores or specialty shoes stores will be able to help you find a great pair of running shoes.
Wear Sunscreen: Regular, comprehensive sunscreen application is crucial before and during outdoor activities, especially a strenuous, sweat-inducing activity like running. Sun damage can occur at any time from sunrise to sunset, even on overcast days when the sun isn’t visible to the human eye. The CDC recommends using a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, reapplied at least every 2 hours. Wearing a hat and sunglasses can offer further sun protection. Run in shady areas when possible, and seek shade when you are warming up, stretching or taking a break.
Stay Hydrated: Regular, plain old water is generally all that the average person needs to stay well-hydrated while walking or running. It’s important that you hydrate especially well during and after vigorous exercise. Luckily, most parks and running trails in the Harrisburg area have public water fountains and water bottle filling stations. Some runners may prefer exercise drinks to water. Consult your primary care doctor if you have any specific questions about hydration while exercising.
Eat a Pre-Run Snack: It’s never a good idea to run on an empty stomach. This doesn’t mean you need to carb-load before every single run. A simple snack will usually suffice. Try eating some granola, yogurt, a protein bar or some fruit about thirty minutes before you start your run. This will give you the energy to power through your run, and it will also keep you from feeling too tired later in the day.
Share Your Location: For your own safety, and the safety of search and rescue personnel, it’s always a good idea to let someone know when you are going out for a run. Thanks to smartphone running apps and location-sharing services, it’s never been easier to let a trusted friend or family member know where you are running. Sharing your location is especially important if you are running alone or running in a more remote location like a nature preserve or conservancy, where you may or may not have reliable cell service.
Avoid Running at Night: Along with sharing your location, avoiding nighttime runs is a simple and easy step you can take to ensure your safety while running. Running in the dark greatly increases the chance that you may fall and sustain an injury. Common other risks, such as coming in contact with wild animals or poisonous plants, are also more difficult to avoid in the darkness of night. If your schedule is such that you have to run in the evenings, it’s highly recommended that you do so on brightly lit, paved paths or sidewalks and in populated areas.
Try a New Trail: Many people give up on their practice of running or walking out of sheer boredom. The same old running trails day after day can, understandably, become very tedious for many runners! Luckily, the Harrisburg area is full of so many wonderful parks, unique trails and challenging routes for runners of all skill levels and abilities. Trying out some new running locations can reinvigorate your interest in the exercise, and is also a great way to meet new people and invest more in the local community. Your new running spot might just turn out to be your favorite!
Runners and walkers in the Harrisburg area are lucky to have so many wonderful options for outdoor exercise. Whether you prefer a challenging nature trail or a paved path or a traditional athletic track, you are sure to find an option that suits you and your needs. Running really is one of the best hobbies, as it can enrich your mind and spirit as well as your body.
Join a club or run with some friends and loved ones for an extra social benefit! Exploring the many parks and trails around Harrisburg is one of the best ways to connect with the local communities and to appreciate the beautiful vistas and rich natural environments of central Pennsylvania.