Trail Running In The Dark

Trail Running in the Dark

Estimated read time: 4 minutes.

If you’re a runner, there’s a good chance you enjoy hitting the trails when the sun goes down. There’s just something about trail running in the dark that’s exhilarating! However, it’s essential to take precautions when night running. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and have fun on your next night trail.

Why You Should Run in the Dark 

There are a few reasons why you might want to consider running in the dark. It could be exciting and challenging for some people, or maybe you don’t have time during the day because of work and family commitments. Whatever your reason may be, here are a few benefits of running at night.


  • You’re less likely to get distracted by other runners on the trails (although this can also make it more challenging if you need help). 
  • It can be cooler outside, which makes it easier on your body temperature regulation system.
  • Peaceful surroundings and you will enjoy nature in a whole new way, especially if there’s a full moon out.
  • The darkness can make the run feel longer and help build mental toughness, which will come in handy during races. 


  • The terrain could be more challenging because your lightning will cast shadows on obstacles and make it difficult to see where you’re running.
  • It’s easy to get lost even on familiar trails in the dark. Shades and the trail in grayscale can look different than they do in the daylight. I have many times taken a wrong turn in my favorite trail running spots because everything looks different in the dark.
  • If you’re running alone, it could be dangerous if something were to happen, such as an injury or illness.
  • You need to be extra careful about running into wildlife since they might be more active at night. 

Tips For Running in the Dark Safely

Now that you know some of the benefits and drawbacks to trail running in the dark, here are some tips to help

Use a Good Headlight

I recommend using a headlamp with at least 500 lumens or better for trail running. It is essential to have a good light that can illuminate the path in front of you and your surroundings. Runners need to be aware of their environment when running on trails because there are many hazards such as tree roots and rocks that could cause an injury if stepped on improperly. Make sure the battery is fully charged before going out for a run.

  • Petzl
  • Lumonite
  • Silva
  • Alpkit

You should also consider getting a backup light in case your headlamp fails. I always carry an extra flashlight on night runs to ensure I have a light source if my headlamp dies or falls off.

Wear Bright Clothing or Reflective Gear

If you are running in the dark, it is important to wear high-visibility clothing so that cars and other runners can see you. I recommend wearing an LED lighted vest over your shirt because this will make sure everyone sees you coming from afar! The vest will also keep you warm on those colder nights.

Bring a Friend

I always recommend running with a friend when trail running in the dark. If something were to happen, it would be helpful if someone else around could help you out. Plus, it’s more fun than going alone!

Tell Someone

If running alone, be sure to tell someone where you are going and when they should expect to hear from you again (such as your estimated time of return). This will ensure that someone else is there who can help if something happens!

Pick Up Your Feet

When running in the dark, it is essential to be extra aware of your surroundings, pick up your feet, and take shorter steps. This will help you avoid tripping on unseen obstacles on the trail.

Run Slower

Since you can’t see as well in the dark, it is best to slow down your pace a bit. This will help keep you safe and prevent any injuries.

Listen for Wildlife

As mentioned before, be on the lookout for wildlife when running at night. Make noise as you run so that any animals in the area know of your presence.

Bring Extra Layer

Bring an extra layer of clothing with you if it gets cold or wet from the rain. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Bring a hat and gloves if necessary too.

Hydration Pack/Bottles

It’s easy to lose track of time when running in the dark, so make sure that you bring enough water and snacks with you. I like to run with a hydration pack to have easy access to water and can eat on the go.

Bring a Cell Phone With You in Case of an Emergency

Always bring your phone with you in case of an emergency. Having a cell phone can be very helpful if something happens while out on the trail and you need assistance.

Don’t wear headphones or earbuds when running in the dark as this will impair your hearing which is important for staying safe. 

Keep your mobile phone away from moisture by keeping it in a plastic bag.

Now that you know how to stay safe while running in the dark, get out there and enjoy some peaceful miles on the trails!


Trail running in the dark is an adventure that will test your stamina and mental toughness. We recommend bringing a friend or telling someone where you’re going to ensure safety if it’s just you. For this reason, we always bring our cell phones with us when out on the trails at night for emergencies. Also, fully charge your battery packs for your lights before heading out so that you can see well enough to avoid obstacles and hazards in the dark. 

Finally, make sure to bring water and snacks with you while running in the dark, as it will keep energy levels up throughout your run!

Joseph Peele