Best Beach Runs: U.S. West Coast

Running on the beach is one of the great summer pleasures. Great Runs has compiled a comprehensive guide to the best beaches for running in the United States. This list is focused on the west coast beaches, from Washington State to California. What qualifies as a great running beach? At least 2 miles long, wide, and with firm sand. The list is organized north-to-south. See also our lists of the best beaches for running in New England and New York to Alabama.

Cannon Beach Area

Oregon Coast, OR

Fantastic running on 3-mile long Cannon Beach. Firm sand and great views of Haystack Rock. Also enjoy quiet side streets in town, and a scenic section of the Coast Highway headed south. Trail runners will love the 7+ miles of trails in Ecola State Park.
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Nehalem Bay Area

Oregon Coast, OR

The highlight of running in the Nahalem Bay Area is the several miles of gorgeous beach, featuring firm, packed sand. In Nehalem Bay State Park, there's a 2-mile bike trail, and some quiet roads for running in the coastal town of Manzanita.
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Ocean Beach

San Francisco, CA

On the west side of the Golden Gate Bridge is the Sunset/Ocean Beach area. It is very different in look, feel, and even climate than the Marina/Golden Gate area.
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Seacliff State Beach & More

Santa Cruz, CA

Classic California beach running in this spot 8 miles south of Santa Cruz. There are ~2 miles of beachside path, some 12 miles of continuous beach with great firm sand, and 150 stairs opposite the pier if you want to get the heart rate up.
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Ellwood Bluffs

Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara’s next door neighbor Goleta offers stretches of hard-sand beach, scenic mesa trails, and a butterfly preserve where you can witness thousands of Monarchs wintering in the warm sun.
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Crystal Cove State Park

Orange County, CA

Run a beach and a canyon all in one run! Fantastic state park has a 2.5+ mile paved coastal trail and 10+ miles of backcountry trails in Moro Canyon. You can enjoy the promenade, with great views, or do a more strenuous trail run with 2,000 feet elevation gain!
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