Where to Run in Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

I live with my family in Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the University of Virginia and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Charlottesville is located in the central part of the state, just 20 miles east of the southern Shenandoah National Park (SNP) and the Appalachian Trail. We are also 10 minutes from the hamlet of Crozet, which sits at the border of the SNP. Weather in central Virginia is hot and humid in the Summer and relatively mild in the Winter, except when it’s not. Once every few years we will get a huge snow year that dumps about 6-12 inches at once, but most often than not our Winters are dry and in the 40s. This makes for year-round training opportunities on the awesome trails nearby.
Sophie and Annie Stanley enjoying skis and snowshoes on Skyline Drive

Where to Run:

Charlottesville is located about 90 minutes from The Priest and Three Ridges Wilderness (a favorite training ground for runners preparing for mountain 100s, with its long climbs and gorgeous AT single track) as well as The Wild Oak Trail, site of the Grindstone 100 and the TWOT 100. Closer in we enjoy all the beauty of the sweet SNP trails, which are 20 minutes by car (or, if you live in Crozet, a short, grinding climb up Jarman’s Gap Road, 1500 feet in 3 miles). The Rivanna Trail is the 20-mile urban ring of single track surrounding Charlottesville (perfect for run and bike commuters), and Carter’s Mountain trails are part of Monticello’s fantastic trail system.
CAT New Years Resolution Rendezvous Run overlooking Massanutten Mountain

Where to Eat:

Bodo’s Bagels are the must-have pre-run carb snack, and after a day on the trails we like to meet for coffee at The Mudhouse in Crozet, scarf pizza and local brews at Crozet Pizza, and, if the weather is nice, hop over to Blue Mountain Brewery (five minute drive from the AT in Afton) for views of the mountains and great burgers and beer. The Nelson County Brew Trail winds its way near Afton and is a favorite destination for folks from near and far looking to sample local craft beers, and we have a few fantastic wineries are in this area as well, including King Family Vineyard and Veritas. After a long day outside playing on the trails, my favorite restaurants in town to check out with my husband are Mas TapasTavola (yummy Italian), and Continental Divide (get the margaritas and Red Hot Blues nachos).

Sophie and her husband at the I Love Charlottesville Sign outside Mas Tapas and Tavola

Where to Shop: 

Crozet RunningCrozet Running is the place for trail runners in Charlottesville and surrounding areas to get their shoes, socks, and any gear they might need for the road or trail. Owners John and Michelle Andersen are ultrarunners and have created a close running community in four short years. Crozet Running sponsors local road and trail 5Ks, a 50K training group, informal fun runs, shoe demos, speakers, and yoga.

Who to Join: 

Charlottesville Area Trail RunnersCrozet works closely with the Charlottesville Area Trail Runners (CATs), a vibrant trail running group that co-sponsors the 50K training group, Tuesday Night runs, a 50K “CATass” run in the SNP, the CAT Summer Trail Series, the CATHalf Trail Half Marathon, and volunteer at an aid station at the Grindstone 100. The CATs also host a New Year’s Day “Resolution Rendezvous Run” where CAT runners meet up with runners from over the mountain in Harrisonburg, VA atop Blackrock in the SNP.


Virginia is known for its trails and ultrarunning culture (the second oldest trail 100, Old Dominion 100, is located in Woodstock, Va, in the shadow of the Massanutten Mountains, about an hour north). The Virginia Happy Trails Running Club (VHTRC) host the Massanutten Mountain 100 there, and David Horton and Clark Zealand put on the Beast Series of races, including Grindstone 100 and Hellgate 100K, about an hour south of us. Our town is fortunate to be at the center of it all, and we enjoy the camaraderie that comes with training and racing with runners from these different areas. Best of all, we live in a beautiful university town, near to Washington, DC and Richmond, but with the peace and quiet that comes from being near the mountains. Come visit and run with us!


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Sophie Speidel

Sophie Speidel has been running ultras since 2002. She has finished over 100 ultras, including Western States 100, Massanutten 100, and Old Dominion 100 as well as the Hellgate 100k eleven times and the R2R2R of the Grand Canyon. Sophie and her husband Rusty have three adult children, ages 28, 26 and 24 who grew up watching their mom transition from road marathons and triathlons to running trail ultras — and they turned out just fine! Sophie works full-time as a school counselor, and in her free time she and Rusty are often found running and hiking with their 3-year-old Australian Shepherds, Cooper and Blue, on the trails near their home in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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