Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rowlett Creek Preserve Trail Review

For our less-technical weekday run, Rosie and I headed northeast to Rowlett, where we were told we'd find smoother, but just as scenic trails to run. Because we're doing shorter, more technical runs on Saturdays, we wanted to log some more miles. In the end, it didn't end up being that many more miles but we ran for nearly 2 hours, which I guess is the equivalent of a long run.

Let me make an aside here that I cannot believe I just said, "Well, I guess 2 hours is a long run." I ran for 2 hours, you guys, and it was no big deal! And we really ran a great deal of it. No run/walk intervals, though trails naturally have you walking some, and a couple of times, my legs were just lead.

Not my photo, this is a red tailed hawk, aka chickenhawk
Anyway, the preserve runs between Rowlett Creek and around a utility easement that's parallel to the creek. The various trail loops meander all over this long narrow area with a few of the more difficult trails that shoot off toward the residential areas (but still appear to be woodsy). You can see DORBA's details on the trail here and a map here. The parking lot tees right into the middle of the preserve, so you have to choose whether to start north or south.

Our route amounted to 7.3 miles and took us about 1:53 to complete running between 15-16 minute miles (including stops to look at the map, gawk at nature, and a few walk breaks... I don't have auto-pause enabled on my Runkeeper).

We headed south first, taking the second trail (#3) as you walk straight past the port-a-potty at the end of the parking lot. It looks like it's going to head down the utility easement, but it turns into the woods on the right and you are on your way. The trails all seem to turn back on themselves here and there, so it's a little disorienting at times, but they're well marked at any forks in the road and maps are posted occasionally so you can get your bearings.

The advice we got, given our goal of fairly easy running, was to avoid trails 7, 14, 13, and 12. Trails are rated from green to blue to black, easiest to hardest, and between the green and blue (we didn't do any black), blue were definitely a little harder, but not significantly. Those ratings are probably more important for mountain bikers, who you'll need to keep an eye/ear out for.

Back to our route: We started with Loops 3, 4, and 5 (5a and 6 are shut down due to DART rail line construction), which took us back to the parking. Part of 5 is a paved utility road. Don't be alarmed. It's not a trap.

We then headed out on on the trail that takes off nearer to the entrance of the parking, over by the pergola thing. Not far down this path, you have to choose between 1a and 1.

Cartoon chickenhawk
1a has a steep river crossing at the very start, but it's not as bad as it looks. Rosie and I both got across unassisted without getting our shoes wet. If it's rained recently, I can't guarantee the same result, however. Just be careful here, but don't be unnecessarily afraid of it. It's worth the nice trail on the other side, where we saw a big ol' chickenhawk hanging out in a tree. Ah say, ah say, Nature!

The trail then goes out into some open farmland for loop 9, which is pretty boring but worth getting through for the nice run back down loops 8 and 1 and back to the parking lot, which I was pretty happy to see.

The southern portion we did was about 3.25 miles, and north was another 3-ish miles, if you're looking for shorter routes. To be honest, I was plenty tired after just doing the south, but we had more miles to chew up and I'm glad we did. The whole place is just lovely (except for loop 9).

One of these days, I want to take a peek at the trails we skipped. What does a black-rated trail look like?

Anyway, very pleased to have gotten to know this trail. It makes for a great training run because it's not so hard that it wears you out mentally or physically as fast as more technical trails, but it's also never boring (except for loop 9).

And despite the easier terrain, I could definitely feel those little stabilizing muscles around my knees and ankles working overtime. It just wasn't like every. single. footfall. required 100% focus to avoid turning an ankle or slipping. I get really tired on trails where the footing is so unsteady, I can't ever look up to enjoy the beauty around me. Feels like I'd be better off just hiking, and BTW, give me a damn walking stick if I'm going to do that.

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