Running in the Fox Valley – Top 10 List

Tired of running through the same neighborhood routes? Sick of crossing the same intersections? Dreading being chased by the same barking dog whose owner never seems to understand how much stress it puts on runners every time they must venture by? Well then switch it up! Try something new! Drive out to a  new course! After all, the Fox Cities is unique for more reasons than just the Fox River Mall and College Avenue, it’s also home to a number of different parks, trails, and terrains that make it an excellent place for running and training.

Whether you’re new to the sport, new to the area, or a seasoned Fox Cities running veteran, hopefully you’ll find a new destination on the list below!

Honorable Mention:

Bubbolz Nature Preserve: Located in northeast Appleton, Bubbolz nature preserve offers several miles of recreational trails.

Plamann Park: In northern Appleton north of JJ, Plamann park offers plenty of space for grass workouts.

Plank Road Trail: This short trail begins at Highway 114 and Oneida and heads west along Plank Rd before turning south at Mellissa St and entering into Jefferson Park.

Enemy Loop: This seven mile fictional loop named after Kimberly and Kaukauna’s high school rivalry, runs along the Fox River through Kimberly, Kaukauna, and Little Chute, crossing at the Washington and Lawe St. bridges.

10.) The CB and JJ Trails located in Neenah run perpendicular to one another and meet at their respective intersection. The trails can form a full loop by starting at Highway 10 and CB (near McMahon), heading South down the CB trail to JJ, taking the JJ trail east to Lake Street, and taking Lake Street north to Fritse Park where the Friendship Trail heads west back to the start. Although this loop lacks beautiful sights of ‘nature’ or soft trail surfaces, it does lead runners through a variety of environments and serves as an appropriate Tour de Northern Neenah.

9.) At number nine is the Darboy Loop, which features stretches on the Noe and Highwire trails. Although it involves a couple miles on country roads, it provides a nice gravel shoulder for half the route as you traverse through one of Appleton’s southeastern most neighborhoods.

Darboy Park provides a convenient starting point. From here one can take the Noe Trail south to Manitowoc road, Manitowoc east to State Park road, State Park road north to the Highwire Trail, and the one mile Highwire Trail west through Hearthstone and back to Noe road.

8.) Coming in at number eight is one of the most beautiful nature preserves in the Fox Cities, 1000 Islands Nature Conservancy in Kaukauna. One can park at the nature center and run the boardwalks and trails along the Fox River. Don’t forget the conservancy’s additional two plus miles of trails located in a forested plot just south of Dodge road. Although the boardwalks and trails may make for difficult footing, the beautiful sights and peaceful seclusion of the center’s trails make the conservancy well worth the running trip.

7.) At number seven is perhaps one of the most interesting selections on the list, the Purdy Trails. These two and a half miles worth of beautiful, wooded trails are located across from the Apple Creek YMCA in the Bruce P. Purdy Nature Preserve on Apple Creek Rd. and are open to the public.

When I took to the trails for the first time last summer after a friend had insisted on going there for a hill workout, I was not expecting much. When we finished the workout, I found myself assuming the hands-to-knees position breathing hard as the steep inclines and declines made for a challenging hill and trail workout when run at high intensity.

6.) Number six and perhaps the most unique on the list is the Island Park Trail Loop in Little Chute. Over one mile of this loop actually runs inside of the Fox River. Starting at the end of Sanitorium road and the southeastern most corner of Heesakker Park, the route runs west through the park before crossing over and into the Fox River. The trail then runs west past Doyle park and lets out on Mill Street. Taking Canal Street east and north to Lincoln Ave will bring you east to Sanitorium Road and back to the start of the loop. Running in the Fox River and through the streets and parks of Little Chute makes for a calm yet scenic run.

5.) At number five is the Apple Creek Trail in Appleton. This four mile trail runs from the east end of Evergreen Road east through Thrivent, around the USA Soccer Complex, and out near Player’s Choice to the intersection of JJ and Holland Rd. There are many points at which the trail can be looped west through neighborhoods near Appleton North high school and back to its starting location.  This trail is paved and provides a safe route through the neighborhoods of northeast Appleton.

4.) The CE and Newberry Trails through Kaukauna, Kimberly, and Appleton land the number four spot. Starting in Kaukauna at the intersection of CE and Q, the CE trail runs west alongside CE through Kimberly and ends at CE and Matthias St for a distance of just under six miles. At the end of the CE trail, the Newberry Trail begins and runs north around Telulah and southwest along the Fox River for just over two miles before finishing at South Olde Oneida St.

3.) Taking the third spot on the list is the Wiouwash State Trail. This gravel trail is named after Winnebago, Outagamie, Waupaca and Shawano counties. This trail, built on a former rail corridor, is maintained and operated by the four counties the trail traverses. Two sections of the trail are now complete and are separated by a gap of about 30 miles. The southern portion runs twenty-two miles south from Hortonville to Oshkosh and intersects the Friendship trail along Highway 10. This beautiful trail runs through secluded land at points, and offers beautiful views of fields, forest, and marshes.

2.) Coming in at number two are the Friendship Trail and Trestle Bridge. Runners can start at the northern end of American Dr. alongside Highway 10 in Neenah and run west on the Friendship trail for nine miles before it ends at Cnty Rd M. Once the trail crosses CB, it turns to gravel for its remaining eight miles. To add on, one can park on the west end of Broad St. in Menasha and run west across the lock and the Trestle Bridge before meeting up with the Friendship trail.

1.) The top spot on the list belongs to High Cliff State Park. Located in Sherwood on the northeast side of Winnebago, High Cliff offers numerous miles of rock, gravel, and dirt trails, as well as two daunting hills for those looking to get their hill workout in. Including its horse trails and the paved trails that run alongside the entrance, the park boasts over ten miles of trails. While the park requires a permit to drive in with a vehicle, one can enter for free on foot, so running in is a viable option.


That’s the list! At least how Appleton’s Run Away Shoes sees it. We know however, that we’ve probably forgotten some extremely worthy runs that could challenge for top spots on the list! It’s for this reason that we ask you to respond via the comments section on Facebook with your favorite runs or those that we may have forgotten to include above!


Happy Running!

-The Run Away Guy

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