Clark Evans, Revised March 23, 2008
The Fern Trail is a unique single-track trail running through
the heart of the east side of Tallahassee, extending from near Governor痴 Square
Mall all the way to Tom Brown Park, approximately 3.5 miles in length. It offers
a very well-shaded path for both off-road bikers and runners and an in-town
connection to the gateway of trails available from Tom Brown Park. To get there
from downtown, take Tennessee St. (becomes Mahan Dr.) east to Blairstone Road
and turn right. After rounding a couple of quick bends, you値l notice a little
drive to your right just before you come to a bridge. Turn right on this drive
and follow it underneath the bridge to a small parking area and the trail痴
start. Carefully cross the railroad tracks and the trail will be evident heading
into the woods to the left.
Winding through the woods, you値l climb a few small hills here and there along the blue blazed path. You値l cross Victory Garden Dr. and the entrance road for the Polos on Park apartment complex within your first mile, though neither is heavily travelled and the path to take back into the woods is well-marked in both cases. Around Polos on Park, the terrain flattens out somewhat as you near the drainage waterway known as Fern Creek. You also get two options at this point. The simplest and most common involves continuing along the creek through an open area until you near the railroad tracks again. Not a lot of variety here, admittedly. The alternative comes in the form of a spur into the woods, looping south and north through a somewhat marshy area. Not recommended if it has rained recently, particularly with any of the torrential downpours we sometimes see, but quite the experience if it has been dry lately. You値l rejoin the path along the creek shortly past the point where you entered the woods.
From here, the trail winds behind multiple businesses as it parallels the railroad tracks toward its formal end at the Capital Circle NE overpass. Along the way, you値l have to option to carefully cross over the railroad tracks and head along a short spur to the Fort Knox office complex along Mahan Dr. (near where the Goose Pond Trail ends). To best access Tom Brown Park, however, you値l want to carefully parallel the railroad tracks along a rocky path under the bridge until you intersect the Tom Brown Park portion of the Goose Pond Trail at Weems Road.
If you need to bring anything along while you run, be sure to sack up before you leave your car as there are no facilities along the way until Tom Brown Park. Despite that, this is some of the best shaded and only real trail running within Tallahassee itself. Be careful to watch for bikers as you run, but enjoy this unique gem within the city.