The Buzz

Philly-based adventure tour operator Highline wants to take you outdoors.

Stories Jenny Willden

From running the red rocks of Moab, Utah, to scaling the Sierra Nevada’s rugged, alpine peaks, adventurous trips to some of America’s (and Italy’s) most beautiful destinations can be booked right here in Philly with Highline, an active adventure travel company. Each of its trail run–focused, small group retreats is designed to help you unplug from the modern world and connect with nature.

Photos By Bridget Freeland and JT Kane

South Philadelphians JT Kane and Ryan Callahan thought up the concept for Highline on a two-week road trip across the American West. “We were in this place of coming back from burnout,” says Kane, “and taking the time to escape and run and hike in these wild spaces was kind of the antidote to years of these high-pressure jobs.”

As they traveled, Kane and Callahan dreamed of sharing the experience with others. Both runners with event production backgrounds—Callahan as the founder of the successful Philly 10K race—they realized a running-focused adventure travel company was the perfect partner project. Both South Philadelphians through and through, the duo launched and now run Highline out of the neighborhood’s BOK Building.
Since Highline’s first Death Valley retreat in 2017, the company has added one-of-a-kind trips at home and abroad—all centered on trail running in the world’s most epic natural landscapes: Shenandoah, Moab, and as far away as the Italian Dolomites.

Trips focus on taking a break from our 24/7 news cycle and reconnecting with people. “We’re trying to provide people with this intangible reprieve from daily life, and people really do seem to be getting that out of the experience,” says Kane. “We try to activate in places that don’t have cell phone service or access to e-mail, and really quickly people find that they’re thankful for that level of disconnection.”

These restorative, exploratory vacations are never the same twice, but attendees can expect daily trail running and speed hiking along with hot spring soaking, yoga, and lodging that runs the gamut from fancy tents to four-star resorts.

Photos By Bridget Freeland and JT Kane

Trips are designed for all levels, but participants should be able to comfortably run three to 10 miles to best enjoy the experience. “We try to keep the pace slow and approachable,” Kane adds. “We take a lot of breaks for photos and make it more enjoyable because it’s not a race, it’s a fun, run-focused vacation.”

And while most participants come from nearby, Kane says the word is getting out. “Being based out of Philadelphia, we get a lot of people from Philadelphia and the mid-Atlantic area, but we’ve started to see it expand. We’ve had people from Texas and California.”

Experience Highline yourself on its long-weekend in Shenandoah in June, the Italian Dolomites adventure in July, an Eastern Sierra trip in August, or its September retreat in Moab.

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