For any runner, one of the most intimidating and challenging – yet exciting and rewarding – experiences is running someplace new. Sometimes you unexpectedly stumble upon the path of your dreams, while other times you hear great things about a new trail and are completely prepared for an unforgettable run. With more than 1/3 of the island set aside as conservation land, lucky Nantucket runners get to experience more than just the bike paths. Much of this land is open to the public and consists of walking, biking and running trails. They always say that the best way to get to know a new place is to walk it yourself, so get on your feet and explore these great trails!
LONG POND TRAIL
Tucked out of sight in Madaket, this peaceful trail is perfect for the runner that loves having the path all to themselves. At the beginning of this route, you’ll be running along a tight, hedge-lined trail for about a few hundred meters before opening up to a wider, grassy path. Transitioning from grass to dirt roads, then sand back to grass again, it is certainly a diverse trail. Unfortunately, like the majority of Nantucket trails, shady spots are hard to come by… but if you head out in the morning or late afternoon, it will be a comfortable jog. The trail is not marked the entire way, but not to fear – it is well maintained and easy to follow. For more detailed directions, click here.
LINDA LORING NATURE FOUNDATION TRAIL
Although this is technically a walking trail, it is a perfect loop for a walk-jog. The Linda Loring Nature Foundation, located at 110 Eel Point Road, contains plenty of parking for cars and bikes, so don’t be deterred by its out-of-the-way location. The trail is entirely grass-covered with a few small hills that anyone can easily take on. The loop itself is approximately one mile long, with a shorter trail in the middle that is only about a quarter-mile long, making it the perfect trail for short, loop-style, interval runs. (And as an adorable bonus, signs telling the story of “Carrot the Rabbit,” written and created by Nantucket’s own 1st and 6th graders, mark the shorter trail).
TUPANCY LINKS TRAIL
Tupancy Links Trail is known and loved by many. Walkers and runners alike visit this trail because of its close proximity to town and the bike path, as well as for its spectacular views of northern shore beaches. The trail itself is about a one-mile loop, but I would recommend starting at the bottom of Cliff Road for a few extra miles – a little less than 4 miles out and back – and a few extra hills too! (Parking, however, is available for those who would rather skip the extra miles and get right to the trail). The trail switches from light gravel, to grass, to dirt, to sand… so like Long Pond Trail, you get a little bit of everything. In the middle of the loop, you will head up a moderate hill overlooking the ocean. Why save the best view for last, when you can see it right in the middle?
ALTAR ROCK TRAILS
Altar Rock is a run for those special people who just love hills. If you belong to this rare breed of human beings, prepare yourself for one of the hilliest runs on the island. Parking is available in small lots at the beginning of Altar Rock Road, so from there the only way to go is up! And because the trail is almost entirely sand, the challenges just keep coming. When you reach the top, you will have a wonderful 360-degree view overlooking all of the Middle Moors with ‘Sconset and Sankaty Head Light in the distance. When heading back, you will have many options, so don’t be afraid to explore the various trails that surround you. The best part about this run is that you can get a great hill workout, but you will also have a varied run each and every time.
SANFORD FARM TRAIL
Sanford Farm Trail is an extremely well marked trail off of Madaket Road that extends for 3 miles all the way to the ocean. It is marked by 3 different “trails” – or stops – that include the 1.7 mile Northern Loop, the 3.1 mile Barn Walk, and the 6 mile Ocean Walk. This is the perfect run for people who use landmarks to reach a certain goal on a run, so if you love to try and beat personal bests, Sanford is for you! The trail varies from dirt to grass to sand, so there’s little opportunity for monotony. But there is great opportunity for sunburn due to little-to-no shade cover, so be sure to wear sunscreen and bring a water bottle on bright and sunny days! Bonus: this is a dog-friendly path so leave time for “pet stops” along the way.
While we may be on a small island with plenty of paved sidewalks and paths, don’t forget about all of the hidden off-road gems sprinkled throughout. This summer, why not get off the bike path and treat your feet to a nice trail run every once in a while? Nantucket is conserving this land for a reason, so use it responsibly and respectively and enjoy every second of it!