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|
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.
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.