Ask any runner which season is the best for an outdoor jog and you’ll undoubtedly get the same answer: Fall! The mild temperatures won’t leave you a red, hot mess, the humidity stays low so you don’t sweat through your shoes, and best of all, it’s hard to find a place that doesn’t showcase some spectacular scenery with fall colors.

Here are a few tips to see the fall colors in Minnesota, and enjoy the beautiful running weather while you still can.

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(credit: CBS)

A great example of a well-maintained trail on Pike Island (credit: CBS).

Well-Maintained Trails Are Key

It’s no secret that running is a stress on your joints. That’s why it’s important to find a park or outdoor area with very wide, well-kept trails. Paved trails are best, but dirt trails are fine as long as they’re clear of rocks and debris. That means most hiking trails are not good for running! Biking trails work great, as long as you’re allowed to run on them

On a recent run, I went to Fort Snelling State Park. It’s mostly made up of paved trails, but I decided to head out on the dirt paths around the perimeter of Pike Island. Although I did take a few wrong turns to end up on some smaller, grassier paths, it’s a great example of the best ways to run.

Find A Quiet Path

Another reason the Pike Island path is so great: the peace and quiet! You’ll start off in a parking lot not far from the MN-55 overpass, but the sounds of passing cars will slowly fade away as you cross the bridge and head into the woods between the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers.

(credit: CBS)

Peace and quiet on Pike Island! (credit: CBS)

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This is really the best part about trail running: You can take a jog far, far away from the sounds of passing cars and trucks. It’s a great way to clear your head, live in the moment and get some exercise. Plus, you’ll see some great colors this time of year — if they’re not gone already.

Head Out Early, Stay Late

While you won’t have to contend with high temperatures and heavy humidity in the fall, it’s always a good idea to head out on your runs early in the morning. Temperatures will stay cool, but slowly rise and even less moisture will linger in the air. And as any fans of TV crime dramas know, night runners will only run into trouble.

But besides the practical reasons to run in the morning, it’s also the best way to enjoy the scenery. I watched the sun rise over the river on Pike Island, then looped around to find some beautiful shadows and light playing through the golden leaves along the trail the rest of the day.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Don’t Overdress, But Be Prepared

This is one I learned the hard way. Sometimes that sub-40-degree forecast haunts your running plan and chills you to the bone before you even head outside. “No problem,” you think yourself, “I’ve got plenty of warmer running clothes!” But of course, 15 minutes into your run and you feel like you’ve stepped into a sauna. Just remember — most people can be comfortable running in the low 40s with just a long sleeve shirt and shorts (after you’ve hit the trail for a bit, of course).

That doesn’t mean pack light. Running on trails can be dangerous — especially in remote parks with sparsely used trails or few visitors. Always bring your own supply of water — you can’t count on any other sources to be there when you arrive. Also, it’s good practice to take a phone (arm straps are pretty cheap and available in abundance online). At the very least, let someone know your running plan, and when you plan on coming back.

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)