What’s the difference between Trail Running, Mountain Running and Fell Running?

What's the difference between trail running, mountain running and fell running? Photo: Ella Rosen.

What is Trail Running?

Trail running is, as the name implies, simply running on trails, as opposed to Road running, which is running on roads/ paved surfaces.

Trail running often involves uneven ground and maybe stones, roots or even holes along the paths. It often requires more concentration on where you put your feet compared to running on roads.

Trail running offers the advantage of being able to run in natural settings and through beautiful scenery.

Trail run in Pallas, northern Finland. Photo: Aapo Laiho, Finland Photo.
Trail run in Pallas, northern Finland. Photo: Aapo Laiho, Finland Photo.

What is Mountain Running?

Mountain running is simply running in the mountains!

Mountain running often involves trail running, but not always. One thing that you can be sure to get on a mountain run is elevation. Mountain running will involve hills!

However, it also in most cases offers beautiful views as a reward for your hard work!

Mountain running in Rondane, Norway. Photo: MON.
Mountain running in Rondane, Norway. Photo: MON.

What is Fell Running?

Fell running is running on uneven ground in a natural setting where there often are no paths or trails to follow, in much rougher terrain than trail running.

It is just to run where you want to go. It’s similar to orienteering in that you don’t necessarily need to follow a trail or a path to get to your goal, you just run through all sorts of terrain.

Fell running may include bogs and easy scrambling, as well as forest or meadows.

Running in Pallas, northern Finland. Photo: Aapo Laiho, Finland Photo.
Running in Pallas, northern Finland. Photo: Aapo Laiho, Finland Photo.

So, What’s the Difference?

  • Trail running follows trails and paths whereas fell running doesn’t.
  • Mountain running takes place in the mountains while fell running you can do anywhere that is away from roads and civilisation.
  • When running in the mountains you can practise both fell running or trail running depending if you where you’re sticking to paths and trails (trail running) or if you choose your own way through the terrain (fell running).
Running in Karhunkierros, Finland. Photo: Aapo Laiho, Finland Photo.
Running in Karhunkierros, Finland. Photo: Aapo Laiho, Finland Photo.

Running Travels offers a variety of options for Trail Running and Mountain Running tours. We don’t yet offer Fell Running, but we might!