A new street light is going up in my neighborhood, just south of I-95 on Congress Ave. in Boca Raton. Except this light isn’t for cars, it’s for pedestrians. The final phase of the El Rio Trail expansion takes the trail north of Clint Moore Road, behind Costco, across Congress and then along a golf course and canal. Boca Raton officials are working hard to complete the amazing project that gives outdoor exercisers a new, safe place to run.

The Boca Raton Road Runners hit the pavement a couple nights a week year-round at some of the most scenic locations in South Florida. Scott Richards, president of the club has been running our roads for almost 20 years. He says that he loves running for the people and the comradery. Here are some of his favorite routes:

A1A is the most obvious and clearly the best running/walking route. Ocean breezes, eight-foot sidewalks, stunning views and tropical birds and plants make this road the most popular running path in our area. Parts of the running paths are equip with water fountains, exercise equipment and benches along the way. “These are our main runs,” Richards says. “We keep the mile markers painted.”

Three best A1A routes to run. All distances are one way.

  • Linton Blvd to Spanish River Bridge (3.7 miles)
  • Spanish River Bridge to Palmetto Park Road (2.5 miles)
  • Palmetto Park Road to Deerfield Pier (2.5 miles)

South County Regional Park is an award-winning park in West Boca that might be the city’s biggest (literally) secret. The massive 847.98-arce park boasts an amphitheater, a dog park, two water parks, a new golf course, all kinds of sports from tennis to racquetball to sand volleyball, and even little surprises like freshwater fishing. There are countless trails and routes to run in the park. For a more structured course, there is a 2.8 mile paved path for running and walking. The park has two entrances: 11200 Park Access Road and 12551 Glades Road.

El Rio Trail South is a 12-foot wide asphalt pathway runs alongside the El Rio Canal from Glades Road at FAU up to Spanish River Road for a beautiful and un-interrupted 2.5 miles. There are benches and some shaded area which makes the trail a favorite for biking, running, or just a leisurely stroll to look at exotic birds, turtles and other wildlife. 

El Rio Trail North is a new and separate trail (because pedestrians cannot cross Yamato Road) that runs north at Yamato Road along the canal to just north of Clint Moore Road (about one mile). The expansion mentioned above is almost complete and it will take the trail even farther.  In a few years, the Florida Department of Transportation will be constructing an under or over pass (a decision has not been made yet to which one) for pedestrians to cross Yamato Road to eventually make the gorgeous trail one, long uninterrupted path.

The Boca Raton Road Runners hold open runs Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. They meet at the NW corner of A1A and Palmetto Park Road and switch up the runs each night, so one day you go north, and the next you head south. Everyone runs at their own pace. They also hold a track workout Tuesday’s 6:30 p.m. at the FAU track (bring $3). Visit brrrc.com for more information.

The best way to buy new running sneakers is to bring in your old shoes, Richards says. This way, the experts can see what kind of running style you have and where you might need more support. In Boca, we have many specialized shops that sell top-of-the-line athletic shoes. Here’s where to get the best running shoes in town:

Runner’s Edge (3195 N. Federal Highway, 561/361-1950; runnersedgeboca.com)

Stuarts of Boca (8177 Glades Road Suite 13; 561/487-5454; stuartsofboca.com)

New Balance Town Center at Boca Raton (6000 Glades Road, Nordstrom wing, 561/338-5554; newbalance.com)