Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cedar Ridge Preserve Trail Review

I'm very new to trail running, and I'm anal retentive about preparing for runs, so the combination of the two means I've done lots of searching to find info on trails I'm planning to run. Sadly, there's very little out there that's terribly useful.

As such, I'm going to try and describe the trail runs we do, so if you're looking for info on a trail, you have some idea of what's going on.

Here's the map of the trail and here's Audubon Dallas' page on the preserve.

The route we took ended up being right at 5 miles:
  1. Start on Cattail Pond Trail and skip the entrances to Possumhaw Trail (or do this one and tack on ~.5 mile, which I'd probably do next time).
  2. Turn off on Cedar Break Trail and do the whole thing until you run back into Cattail Pond trail.
  3. Take off on Fossil Valley Trail (the one I read was quite hard... more on difficultly later).
  4. At the end of Fossil Valley, take Escarpment Trail. 
  5. Then take the Bluebonnet Trail loop when you get to it, and that pretty much ends back in view of the parking lot.
Cedar Break is a mix of easy and challenging sections, but honestly, if you can do it, you can do Fossil Valley, too. Take a break to enjoy the little lookout at Cattail Pond the Boy Scouts built before heading up Escarpment because that SOB is uphill the whole damn way.

Bluebonnet is pleasant and fairly easy, but in the middle where it cuts back, there's a Trail sign with an arrow pointing back the way you just came, and there are two other directions to go. One is downhill and one is uphill. Take the uphill. The downhill goes down to a residential area and you sure don't want to have to climb back up it to get back on the real trail.

There's another unmarked fork in the road earlier on in this otherwise well-marked route, but I can't remember where exactly (end of Fossil Valley maybe?). If you get to it, go to the right, the more well-traveled path.

Both Rosie and I are in pretty good cardio shape, but we were both shocked by how much huffing and puffing we were doing at various times throughout the run. I felt my quads burning during some of the climbs, so it's a great workout. It was amazing to watch another runner (with a Dallas Fire and Rescue shirt on) bound past us on a rocky, rooty portion that we were walking.

I never fell, but I sure slipped on muddy/wet rocks pretty significantly a few times. My ice skating skills come in handy, I guess. 99% of any step ups or "stair"-like terrain are well-maintained, so you're not really having to scramble up large drop-offs.

Also, if you want the avoid the uphill Escarpment climb, you can do this route in reverse, but hills are good for you, so don't do that. ;)

Anyway, really lovely trail and no bikes. Only hikers and runners (and a few dogs) as far as I could tell, so you don't have to worry about getting creamed around the next corner. Plus a few lake (Joe Pool) views along the way, and a fun lookout tower you can climb up and take pics of valley below:

Happy running!

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