Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Five: Favorite Tallahassee Trails to Run

Sleeping for 10 hours feels so strange! I feel like a different person.

Since I'm training for a trail half marathon (because I'm pretty much insane), I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my favorite training grounds for this Friday Five.

If you're not a Tallahassee local, sorry! You should visit sometime, we have a great trail system. Coming from somewhere like Panama City, where there is no where to run but streets and "walking parks," Tallahassee is like heaven. Seriously, the trails are probably my favorite thing about living here.

Anyway, here are my favorites.

Killearn Estates Bridle Trails - You're technically supposed to live within Killearn Estates to use these trails but I've never seen anyone walking about checking ID. In fact, I rarely see anyone on the trails at all. These trails are really wide, grassy, utility easements that some people took their horses on back when there used to be more horses in the area. There are street crossings here and there and it also connects to the paved trail along Centerville Road. Most of the trails are easy to follow with entrances marked by short wooden fences, but if you're not sure where the trail is, just look up for the power lines, since most of the trails follow them.

This is at a park on Shamrock South, you could park here...
Most of the bridle trails are grass and easy, there are only a couple of small sections that get really overgrown and can be rather rooty. I like these trails when I need some soft surface running and because they are pretty much right out my back door.

I would guess that the total length of the bridle trails is 7-9 miles and I've traveled most, if not all of it. You can find a map of the trails here, though it is not completely accurate as I've learned from experience. There's also a good write-up on the trails here.

Lake Overstreet Trails - This is the only one I'm including that there's a cost for. It's part of Maclay Gardens State Park and I believe the pedestrian charge is $2. We had a family annual state park pass for a while and I'd like to get one again. You can park at the Forest Meadows Sports Complex and cross Meridian Road to get to the trails.

These trails are well maintained and the loop closest to Meridian Road is very wide and easy with just a couple rooty sections; I can do this trail with the double stroller. There is a straight, somewhat steep, connector that takes you to another, longer, and more technical loop. On this side of the connector, there is also a water fountain and a bathroom. I would rather go in the woods than use this bathroom. Wait, I have. There are some single-track offshoots, one or two of which will take you to another parking area in Maclay Gardens.

The first loop is under 2 miles and most runners will do it several times. I'm not sure of the total with the connector and larger loop since my Forerunner 10 was never able to maintain a signal here but I think it's around 5 mile. Herb Wills has a much more detailed post on the trails here. These trails would rank higher for me if I didn't bonk nearly every time I go there.

Cutest running partner

A video posted by Audra Reese Derrenberger (@runwritemom) on

Lafayette Heritage Trail Park - Or as most of us call it, Piney-Z.This is mainly dirt, multi-use trails surrounding a lake with some mountain bike off-shoots. Northwest of Piney-Z is Tom Brown Park and its trails, some of which are technical, single tracks, while other are wide, multi-use. You can really get in a good, long, trail run if you want to follow connecting trails in both directions from Piney-Z. Traveling counter-clockwise from the parking area (where there's bathrooms, water fountains, and a playground), for a little under 1.5 miles will get you to a land bridge. Once you cross the land bridge the ground becomes soft and harder to travel with a stroller before taking you to the recently constructed wooden bridge over the railroad tracks. Last time we were there, I heard a noise and thought we were going to get to see a train pass under us, but it was only a truck out-fitted to ride the tracks. Crossing the tracks then heading back will get you around 3 miles; crossing the tracks and not turning back will take you to...

J. Alford Greenway - One of the two major greenways here, the Alford Greenway makes makes my top 5 because of its connections to other systems. I also think there's more to explore than at the Miccosoukee Greenway. A lot of the greenway is, of course, grass. There's also a little gravel (not my favorite) and dirt. Not many roots and pretty wide, some areas you're in the woods and others are like running through farmland. I love the variety. I've gotten lost here more than once but still had a good time. I'm not going to try to give this a mileage but I've easily done 8 here.

Then you have my current favorite:

I didn't go down any of the single-track today, I had the double stroller

Tractors and guys doing tractor guy stuff
Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park - Also called Forest Meadows, I've "discovered" a new trail nearly every time I've ran here. There's some wide, fire trails along with plenty of single-track, some technical, some not. I like that some trails are designated as hiking trails instead of all of the single-track being mountain bike trails. Though I wouldn't blame mountain bikers for using them, how could they resist? What I love about these trails is similar to what I love about the greenway, lots of variety. Here you have more technical trails and some water crossings. There are also horse obstacles here as it's where the Red Hills Horse Trials are held. Oh, and there are lookout towers and agricultural um, stuff? You can read more about Phipps Park here.
Not a great pic but you can kind of see some horse jumps here

I think I could have made this a list of 10, but it's Friday Five, not 10, so I'll have to talk about some of Tallahassee's other great trails later.

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