Explore Norman on The Run - 7 Routes You Won't Want to Miss
Yes, it’s finally fall agin. The temperature might still jump between the 60s and 80s in a single day every once in awhile, but, hey, that’s Oklahoma for you.
To most Okies, fall - specifically fall in Norman - means one thing: football. It means tailgating alongside the streets of Lindsey and Jenkins, claiming your territory on the lot of Lloyd Noble, scouting out free parking on the outskirts of campus, and enjoying the cool autumn breeze as you walk towards the stadium with family and friends at your side. People from all across the state, and the country, make this same “pilgrimage” to Norman, week after week, season after season, to be a part of OU’s rich traditions and enjoy the company of fellow Sooners.
However, Norman isn’t just football!
The best thing about Norman, especially in the fall, is its diverse range of activities to do, places to go, and things to see. Norman is a city which has its own rich history, dating back to the 1800s, and - with a population of just over 100,000 residents - it has a surprisingly cozy, small-town feel. Normanites (yes, that is the proper demonym) are friendly people, always ready to strike up a conversation and help out any new face - and we can’t get enough of recommending certain areas for travellers to check out.
With all that said, what exactly is the best way to experience Norman in the fall?
Simple: On foot!
From historic downtown right in the heart of Norman, all the way to Lake Thunderbird on Highway 9, exploring Norman through running is the No. 1 way to experience all that the city has to offer. Normanites are some of the friendliest Okies you’ll ever meet, and the Norman running community is just as inclusive!
Not a runner? Doesn’t matter! Whether you bike, walk, or run, we’ll hook you up with some of the greatest routes around town that will help you explore every corner of Norman.
For the Socialite….
Norman’s premiere local running store, OK Runner, is where you’ll find a group of enthusiastic Normanites ready to help out even the most casual of “hobby joggers”. Located in Brookhaven Village - also home to OK Runner’s annual Brookhaven 5k - OK Runner is the perfect starting point for a run through the city’s northwest neighborhoods.
Campus Corner & The University of Oklahoma Campus: OK Runner’s Pub Run (O’Connells) : 3 miles
Few things are better than a cold drink following a group run. Enjoy both with OK Runner’s weekly “Pub Run” - starting and ending at Campus Corner’s very own O’Connells Irish Pub & Grill with a tour around the beautiful campus of The University of Oklahoma as well. Check out other group runs with OK Runner here.
For the Interval Runner….
Grass Track: OU Westheimer Airport : 1200m, 800m, 400m
Looking for the perfect spot for a few timed efforts and interval reps? Owned by The University of Oklahoma, the field adjacent to OU’s Westheimer Airport is also home to Norman’s very own grass track. While the track is used by both high school runners and, obviously, the OU track team, the grass track is also frequented by plenty of Normanite runners as well. The grass track is an especially great asset to Norman as it provides runners with a soft, and fairly flat, surface on all 3 loops - 400m, 800m, and 1200m - of the course.
For the Trail Lover….
Sutton Wilderness Area : 1.3 miles
Take to the outermost loop of Sutton - approximately 1.3 miles - for a run through the forest and around a tranquil pond. Just outside one of Norman’s dog parks and soccer complexes, this trail boasts a mixture of surfaces including loose gravel and dirt, perfect for runners looking for a break from concrete.
Saxon Trails : 1.25 miles
Saxon is a great place for any runner looking for a trail with twists and turns, short hills and quick elevation changes, and a wonderfully soft gravel surface. The outermost loop of this trail measures out to 2000m, with distance markers all the way around the loop. Located at the southeastern end of the city along Highway 9, Saxon is a great spot for runners seeking a quiet spot for hill work, intervals, or even just a quick getaway through the trees.
For the “Skeptical” Runner…
Lake Thunderbird, Clear Bay Trail : 18.5 miles
Running’s not your thing? No worries! While Lake Thunderbird does boast miles of fabulous running trails, this is also the best spot for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders (horses not provided), and dog-walkers alike. After exploring the narrow winding trails of the forest, take some time to enjoy some boating, fishing, or even just the beautiful views by the lake.
Legacy Trail : App. 5 miles
Looking for a trail that’ll really give you a tour of the city? Hop onto Legacy Trail to go straight through the heart of downtown Norman, all the way up along the railroad, past the grass track, and finally on over to Norman’s biggest shopping center at the north end of town. The trail covers about 5 miles of paved sidewalk, perfect for a walk - or bike ride - through the city!
VisitNorman videographer and Sooner cross country athlete