The last time I ran through Wildwood Park, which has a paved bike path that is roughly 1.5 miles long, I noticed a lot of hiking trails branching off of the bike path and winding into the woods. I was not about to go try trail running for the first time ever when I was 5 weeks out from my first full marathon, so I filed away these trails for later. Since completing my first full, I decided I wanted to explore trail running a bit. I did my first trail run last weekend and although it was tough, it left me hungry for more adventures.
|From last weekend at Claytor Lake State Park|
I spent the first 2.5 miles or so running the paved path in Wildwood Park.
On my way back, I started to explore all of the trails. The first one I tried out had a little foot bridge over the creek and then climbed up to a cave in the hillside.
The cave was called Adams Cave and had a grate that was added in 1996 to block the entrance to the cave to preserve it. A sign next to the entrance stated the cave was first used by Native Americans and was then explored during the Civil War for gunpowder ingredients (but they didn’t find what they needed). I continued on with my run and went up some very steep climbs to the top of the hillside.
The sun was in a bad spot, but hopefully you can see how steep this was. I actually walked some on the way up and on the way back down. It was muddy from the snow we had earlier this week that had melted, and that combined with the wet leaves made it slick!
|Some other signs along the trail of the snow and freezing rain (and cold temp’s) we had during the week last week.|
After running the hiking trails on one side of the paved bike path, I got back on the path and connected to the trails on the other side. This is where I encountered the “Grand Staircase.” It was quite a climb and some of these steps had more than a foot in height difference. I found myself mixing in some stair climbing action with my run.
This view is from halfway up the Grand Staircase, looking back down to the bottom. There are at least 15 more steps where it drops off in the picture. These got me huffing and puffing! On this side of the trail I encountered some trails that were rockier and had more roots. They were also a lot muddier in some areas and at times I felt like I had 3 pounds of mud caked to the bottom of my shoes.
|More of the stairs. These ones were shorter and not as steep.|
I ended up doing a little over 3 miles on these hiking trails before heading back through the tunnel and back to Bissett Park for a total of 6.3 miles. My legs were very tired after this run. I didn’t get to explore all of the trails on the Grand Staircase side of Wildwood Park, though, so I’ll definitely be back for more.
I am also hoping to explore Pandapas Pond soon, with a longer trail run. Hopefully that is in the works for this weekend!
Have you ever run on a trail that had built in steps like these did?
Have you ever been “spelunking” (i.e. exploring) in a cave?
I toured Luray Caverns in elementary school, but I’m really not a big fan of caves. Especially ones you would have to crawl in.