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Around Tallahassee

Clark Evans, January 26, 2008

While there are hundreds of miles of paved and unpaved trails in Tallahassee itself, there are many miles of paved and unpaved trails within an hour’s drive or so just waiting to be explored. Here is a listing and brief descriptions of just some of these trails…

Paved Trails       Unpaved Trails

Paved Trails

Blountstown Greenway Bike Path: Blountstown, FL, approx. 4 miles in length

No map currently available.

Opening in 2007, this is the region’s newest paved path and was recently added to the Florida National Scenic Trail. Starting in Sam Atkins Park on the west side of Blountstown, this trail runs through the city on its way to the Apalachicola River, providing a mix of small town and backwoods Florida. Facilities and parking are available at Sam Atkins Park, accessible by taking State Road 20 to West 19th Street and heading north for a short distance.

Earl May Boat Basin Trail: Bainbridge, GA, 2-6+ miles in length

No map currently available.

The Earl May Boat Basin in Bainbridge, GA, about 45 minutes northwest of Tallahassee, features a network of paved trails near and along the Flint River. The outer loop extends for almost 6 miles in length with several options for shorter distances as well; these are pictured on the detailed map posted at the trailhead at the start of the trail. The trailhead – along with water, parking, and restroom facilities – is located at the west end of the park, itself located just west of the Shotwell St./US 84 Bypass intersection on the west side of town.

Four Freedoms Greenway Trail: Madison, FL, approx. 5.7 miles in length

Map

The Four Freedoms Greenway Trail is a paved trail starting in the town of Hanson, a few miles north of Madison along County Road 145, and ending at the banks of the Withlachoochee River on the Florida/Georgia border. Between the small towns of Hanson and Pinetta, the trail runs past pasture lands along CR 145, while north of Pinetta the trail runs through a heavy tree canopy in the midst of forested lands. Parking is available in both Hanson and Pinetta, with bathroom facilities available in Pinetta at the Pinetta Market.

St. George Island Bike Path: St. George Island, FL, approx. 4 miles in length

Map

The St. George Island Bike Path runs along Gulf Beach Dr. from the entrance to the St. George Island Plantation property eastward to the end of E. Pine Ave., about 2.4 miles shy of the state park on the east end of the island. Parking, water, and restroom facilities are available at the park at the end of the main entrance to the island. A good path to explore on vacation or while at the beach for the day, but do take note of the open exposure to wind, sun, and humidity, particularly in the summer months.

Unpaved Trails

Tate’s Hell State Forest: between Carrabelle and Eastpoint, FL, approx. 4 miles in length

Map

The High Bluff Coastal Trail runs through the midst of Tate’s Hell State Forest, an ecosystem of slash pines and wetlands located between the Gulf Coast and Apalachicola National Forest southwest of Tallahassee. The trail itself runs parallel to US 98 between Carrabelle and Eastpoint, with parking available at the trailheads on the east and west ends of the trail along US 98. Terrain along the trail is mostly flat, running through the sandy soils in some of the old pine plantings in the forest.

Lake Talquin State Forest: about 10 miles west of Tallahassee on SR 20, approx. 9 miles in length

Map

Located within the Lake Talquin State Forest are the Ft. Braden Trailwalker Trails, a series of three looping trails comprising just over 9 miles of forested trails along the south shores of Lake Talquin. Look for the trailhead (and parking and restroom facilities) about 1.5 miles west of Coe Landing Rd. along State Road 20, or about 8 miles west of Capital Circle SW. These trails run through the heart of the pine and oak forests along rolling terrain through the midst of the forest, providing yet another getaway within a short distance of town.

Torreya State Park: about 35 miles west of Tallahassee, approx. 14.5 miles in length

Map

Torreya State Park features some of the most breathtaking yet challenging terrain in north Florida, running along the bluffs of the Apalachicola River. It is a perfect area to train for off-road running adventures and well worth the drive. To get there, take I-10 west from Tallahassee, exiting at the Chattahoochee exit and following the signs to the park. There are two main trails within the park, the River Bluff Loop and Rock Creek Loop trails, each just over 7 miles in length and both challenging hiking paths. Stock up on water before setting out on either trail. A small entrance fee ($2) is required for entrance to the state park.

J.R. Alford Arm Greenway

Roger Bell and David Yon, Rev August 11, 2007

Alford Arm Greenway is an 865 acre park at the end of Pedrick Road in east Tallahassee. To find it travel highway 90 east past Capital Circle to Buck Lake Road, turn right on Buck Lake, travel about 1.6 miles and turn right on Pedrick Road. Continue about a mile to the end of the road. You can also run the Lake Lafayette Heritage Trail (Cadillac Trail) from Tom Brown Park.  If you follow that trail across the lake on the dike you will come to a set of rail road tracks.  Cross the tracks and at the top take the trail to the right.  Most any of the branches off to the left will either take to you Alford Arms or to Pedrick Road.  The safest bet is to find the fence and then follow it up to Alford Arm.  The parks department has put a lot of work into this trail system and it has become a terrific place to run.

This is a very passive park similar to the Miccosukee Greenway and it is a very runner friendly park with no motorized vehicles. There is a 60-acre field and then trails and smaller fields where the activity will most likely consist primarily of trail activity for hikers, runners, bicycles, and horses.

There are four trail designations: l. Mixed use trails will allow all uses. 2. Horse trails that can be used for all except bikes. 3. Bike trails that can be used for all but horses. 4. Hiking trails that can only be used for hiking (and running). Hikers and runners probably will be considered the same use and are expected to be permitted on all trails. Within a year there could be as much as 20 miles of trails, now there are about 7 or 8 miles of unofficial trails, some existed from the previous owners, some were made by the bikers, some by the sheep herders, and some just cut across parts of fields or follow cow trails. This is truly is a great addition to Tallahassee's already wonderful supply of running trails. You will enjoy running here.

For a map go to:  http://www.leoncountyfl.gov/parks/greenways.asp#Trail

Apalachee Regional Park

Visit Herb Wills Blog

The Cadillac Graveyard Trail (Lake Heritage Trail)


By John Kalin and David Yon

Yes, amidst the splendor of nature, there lies a graveyard for old cars. And, I suspect, a few runners who did not pay enough attention to where their feet landed. If you can figure out how these vehicles wound up along this trail you can win a free pass to run on the trail. Ok, so there is normally no charge anyway. The Cadillac Graveyard Trail is about four miles long, running point-to-point between Tom Brown Park and Swift Creek Middle School. It runs roughly parallel to the Lafayette Heritage Trail, along the southern shore of Upper Lake Lafayette and Piney Z Lake. This roughly three-mile portion of single track is the Cadillac Trail proper. The Lake Heritage Trail has is the smoother wider choice. The merge to cut across a levee between Piney Z Lake and Lower Lake Lafayette and head northward toward the school, maybe another mile away. Or you can bear to your right and head for the Alford Greenway. Total out and back mileage with no side trips is about 7 ½ miles.

The terrain and topography of The Cadillac Trail is something of a blend of the Fern and Red Bug trails, with some easy rolling pine groves thrown in for variety. You will find some magnificent vistas and opportunities to view lots of waterfowl. There is a restoration project underway for one or more of the lakes, so you will find a lot of dry lakebed right now in some spots and low water exposing dikes in others. There is plenty of water to support wildlife, though, and you will discover lots of waterfowl and osprey nests on your run. Much time will be spent climbing and descending a very narrow trail. It was built by mountain bikers to be different and challenging and they succeeded. It was "completed" late in 1999, but it is constantly being modified and crosses and sometimes blends with the Heritage Trail. There are workarounds to avoid some of the more technical sections.

To find the west trailhead, go to the back of Tom Brown Park. Tom Brown Park is located off Capital Circle North East, near where Park Ave dead ends into Capital Circle. You can enter the park by Easterwood Drive or Conner Blvd. Across from the softball fields and Easterwood Drive is a BMX track. Go down hill behind the track and proceed downhill (east), past the police K-9 training pen. Continue east downhill a hundred yards or so until you reach a small grassy field with a railroad trestle on your left. Diagonally across the field (southeast) you'll find a bridge to the trailhead. Make sure you cross the bridge and don't take the path that leads you back to Tom Brown. To find the east or Swift Creek Middle School Trail Head, drive east on highway 90. Turn right on Bucklake road. Proceed to Pedrick road and turn right. Continue until the road dead ends, just past Swift Creek Middle School. The trailhead in on the right after the pavement ends.

Starting from the west trailhead, you'll be climbing. The rewards on this trail come quickly. Check out that view, but be prepared to do a face plant! As you come to forks in the trail, you can go either way for the most part. Stay on the most traveled part for your best entertainment value. Typically, the darkest dirt is the right way, but alternate routes reconnect quickly to the main trail.

Your pace will vary, but I timed the following points of interest running about an 8:00 – 8:30 minute pace:

0:00 - Start at west trailhead.

5:00 - Steep switchback with sudden descent and climb. Hold on!

9:30 - First pine grove.

10:30 - "Cadillacs" - actually 50s Fords, and maybe a Buick.

13:00 - Levee between Upper Lake Lafayette and Piney Z Lake. The trail dips down towards the parallel jeep trail here. Getting off Cadillac here, going all the way across the levee to the RR tracks and back will add about 5 minutes. Highly recommended. Great view, flat (for some rest), ospreys on patrol.

14:30 - Steel gate straight ahead. This is the access point into the park from Piney Z Plantation. (To find this gate via car, go to Conner Boulevard off US 27 South or Capital Circle near Tom Brown Park. Turn at the main entrance to Piney Z Plantation, Heritage Park Boulevard. Go ½ miles to where this road dead ends. Look to your left and you will see the steel gate. Turn left before the gate, then right when you see the single track heading back into the woods. This would be a great place to park a car to start your run or to leave water.)

16:30 - Another steel gate, this one on your left as you come to a T in the trail. (If you go right at this T, and follow the jeep trail around to the left, you'll end up on March Road. This is another way into the park.)

26:00 - East end of Cadillac Trail proper. Down a STEEP hill to the levee between Piney Z Lake and Lower Lake Lafayette. Visualize mountain bikers climbing/descending this hill. Look for blood. Continue across the levee.

30:00 - RR crossing. Go left about 50 feet, cross the tracks at the white painted RR tie, climb dirt hill, then go left. You can sort of take your pick here, but take the first singletrack to your right, then stay left until you see the school through the woods.

34:00 - End at South Pedrick Road dead end by Swift Creek Middle School. If you want to access Cadillac from Buck Lake Road, park and start here. From this end there are multiple trails through the woods. Try them all to tack on extra mileage before heading back across the RR to Cadillac.

As with all single track trails shared with cyclists, step off the trail to let the bikers get by. It's considerate to be out of the way BEFORE they're forced to unclip from their pedals. Without the cyclists, most of these trails wouldn't exist.

Centerville Road Bike/Running Path

By David Thompson

Granted, I’m biased since this pathway is 200 yards from my house, but this new (June 2000) bikeway/running path is already one of my favorites. From Capitol Circle Northeast head north on Centerville Road about three miles, just past the Shamrock Drive entrance into Killearn. Look for the Woodland Hall Academy building where you can park (outside of normal business hours) or just leave the car in the grass field next door. The field doubles as an overflow parking area for Celebration Baptist Church. Right in front of Woodland Hall you’ll see the beginning of the five-foot wide asphalt pathway. Just head north as far as the pathway goes.

The pathway extends to Pimlico Drive where the new elementary school will be located, a distance of about 1.6 miles. An out and back run to the end gives you a hair more than a 5K on a trail that's part asphalt and part concrete. There are numerous side roads cutting off the pathway into Killearn where you can easily add from one to ten miles and pick up some hills to boot. (The pathway itself is far from flat.)

You’ll run almost completely under a lush tree canopy and while it’s not air-conditioned (don’t we wish!) it is one of the coolest places to run when the Tallahassee heat bears down. You’ll run through trees lining Centerville Road and the backs of homes where you’ll get a chance to see kids swimming in pools, families cooking burgers on the grill, and you’ll even have a few dogs race to the fence to give you their normal greeting. It’s "picture post card" stuff to me.

No water stops that I have seen, but e-mail me at DavidRuns@aol.com and I’ll put a cup of cold water in my mailbox for you!

Deep Creek Trail (12.3 miles) and Stoney Bayou Trails (6 miles)


(Updated July 31, 2000)

By David Yon

Map

If you want to see some of the best of Florida's outdoors, these trails will take you there. Admittedly I ran the Deep Creek Trail on a near perfect day - sunshine, 50 degrees and no wind or bugs. The only negative was the high grass on some parts of the trail and the fact that you have to drive a little ways to get to this trail. Oh, yeah you will have to pay a $4 dollar per car entry fee (unless you buy a one year pass for $12), but it goes to a great cause protecting wetlands. What a great way to get outside; I lost count of the deer, birds and other wildlife I saw on this run. You have a great chance of sharing space with alligators, ibis, egrets, heron, eagles, osprey and more.

The trail is located in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, 30-40 minutes and about 25 miles south of Tallahassee. The National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1931 and now stretches from the Aucilla River to the Sopchoppy River. To reach the wildlife refuge head south from the center of town on Monroe Street and continue past Capital Circle through Woodville. The road becomes highway 363 and Woodville Highway. Approximately 15 miles south of town turn left (east) on highway 267. This will end at highway 98 after about 3.8 miles. Turn left on highway 98 and continue for about half a mile, just past the St. Marks River. Turn right on state road 59 and continue south for about 4 miles where you will see the entrance to the park. Just after you enter the park you will see the visitors center on the right. If you have trouble finding the trail this is a good place to ask for directions. The trail is about .9 miles past the visitors center on the left. It is well marked and there are trail maps at the head. There is a sign that says St. Marks Wildlife Primitive Walking Trails.

There are two overlapping trails: Deep Creek, which is 12.3 miles according to the park service, and Stoney Bayou Trail, which the park service says is 6 miles. They start and end at the same place and are marked by signs that make them fairly easy to follow. The trails begin on Aucilla Tram Road, a narrow dirt road with a heavy forest canopy  broken here and there by coastal marsh. Stoney Creek Trail takes a right at about 1.9 miles, while Deep Creek takes you out about 4.5 miles before it winds around to the right. There is a lot of variation in the vegetation and somewhere around mile 6-8 the forest gives way completely to marsh and you find yourself running atop dykes with water on both sides.

Continue on the Dykes toward the road and you will pass a trail that leads off to the right at about 8.5 miles. If you had turned right on the Stoney Bayou Trail this is where it rejoins the Deep Creek Trail. If you continue past this turn, you have two choices. You can continue all the way to the paved Light House Road (the main road through the park) or you can turn right at the 9.8 mile mark on the Deep Creek Trail. There is a white arrow marking the trail. You can follow this trail all the way back to Aucilla Tram Road. Turn left and you have approximately .5 miles back to the start. You will see a sign that says 11.8 miles at this intersection. At about the 10.6 mile point there is an intersection. Continue on the middle path; there should be another white arrow pointing the direction. If you turn left, it will take you back to the lighthouse road or dead end at the water. If you bear back to the right, it will take you to the Stoney Bayou Trail.

Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park

Tim Brewton, updated June 17, 2007

The trails of the Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park form another outdoor treasure of this area that is open to the public. The Park is out north Meridian Road, bordered by Forest Meadows on the east, Miller Landing Road to the north, Lake Jackson to the west, and Lake Victoria to the south. Excluding the Red Bug Trail (see Gordon Cherr's article), there are over 12 miles of trail, including wide multi-use dirt roads, multi-use single track connectors, and hiking trails (pedestrians only). The hiking trails are marked by orange blazes and are maintained by the Apalachee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association. Check their website (http://apalachee.floridatrail.org/ ) for opportunities to join in with trail maintenance.

The trails may be accessed from a small parking lot at the trailhead on Miller Landing Road (or from Forest Meadows). A visitor to the park will encounter a plethora of signs, numbers, and letters (the old maps do not have the letters on them, which are for the hiking trails). Prepare to be confused! There are numerous opportunities to pick up maps along the way; however, if you can't orient the map, it may be awhile before you figure out which direction you're going. The good news is that you can't travel very far before coming to an intersection. The bad news is that you can't travel very far before coming to an intersection--putting together a long run requires a good memory or accepting the fact that you will have several consultation stops along the way.

The park is free, and, If you follow the multi-use trail west from the trailhead, in about one-half mile you will encounter a deluxe outhouse. There are no water fountains, but the soccer facilities are close to the trailhead and to the Coon Bottom Loop.
 

Fern Trail
 

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’s 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’ll 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’s start. Carefully cross the railroad tracks and the trail will be evident heading into the woods to the left.

Winding through the woods, you’ll climb a few small hills here and there along the blue blazed path. You’ll 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’ll 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’ll 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’ll 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.
 

Gopher Frog and Alligator Trail

Herb Wills, July 30, 2008

For years I've been hearing about the GFA Rail Trail, to be built on the bed of the old Georgia, Florida, and Alabama (aka Gopher, Frog, and Alligator) Railroad between Tallahassee and Carrabelle. Never mind that some of the railbed is in people's yards or beneath city streets or under a runway of the Tallahassee Municipal Airport. Don't worry about the hostility of hunting interests to a trail in the Apalachicola National Forest. Forget about the problem of bridging the Ochlockonee River. One Day the trail would be built, all 53 miles of it. Run a marathon on the St. Marks Trail? You would be able to run two marathons back-to-back, on the GFA Trail and never re-trace a single step. And it would indeed happen One Day. After all, the Florida Department of Transportation had added a ten-foot bike lane to the bridge over Fisher Creek on Springhill Road. A mile to the north,the United States Forestry Service had added the legend "GFA Trailhead" to the sign for the Trout Pond Recreation Area (and only those of little faith would point out that the USFS had also added "CLOSED" to the same sign).

This past week I heard that construction on the trail had actually been spotted along Springhill Road. I wanted to see it. I have faith and hope in this project, but I still wanted to see it. So Saturday (2008 July 26) I went to take a look.

You have to drive a long way south of town on Springhill Road before you spot the first construction a bit south of the Trout Pond Recreation Area. The farthest south the current stage of the project goes is Helen Guard Station Road, just north of the Wakulla County line. North of Helen, the railbed has been graded and a layer of crushed lime laid down. Or maybe sand mixed with gravel. Anyway,something to serve as a foundation for the first layer of pavement.

At Fisher Creek, the trail veers east of the old railbed to cross the creek on the bicycle lane that has been added to the Springhill Road bridge. After the bridge the trail jogs back to the west to rejoin the railbed. The railbed is a bit higher than Springhill Road here,so you get something you seldom see on a rail-trail: a hill.

A bit north of Fisher Creek, the trail suddenly makes a hard turn to the east, leaves the old railbed, and crosses Springhill Road. After crossing Springhill Road, the trail turns gently to the north, apparently towards Trout Pond Recreation Area, which is on the opposite side of Springhill Road from the old railbed. On this side of Springhill Road, a layer of blacktop has already been added to the trail.

That's how things stood the day of my visit. This part of the project should be done soon, but you won't be able to run a marathon on it--it's only around two miles long. You could run an out-and-back 5K on the trail, but I wouldn't advise it because of the Springhill Road crossing. It could be very important as a segment of the longer trail, but I don't know when that's going to happen.

Bill Crooks once told me that there was a running track inside of the Federal Correctional Institute off of Capital Circle. That was interesting information, but not immediately useful. In fact, I'm inclined to hope that it never becomes useful. I have to put this news about the GFA Trail in a similar category of interesting but not immediately useful. The difference is that I remain hopeful that this GFA information will be useful one day.
 

Goose Pond Trail

Clark Evans, January 15, 2008

The Goose Pond Trail is a series of three short, paved trails on the northeast side of Tallahassee, connecting the Woodgate and Betton/Waverly Hills areas to Tom Brown Park and beyond. The three segments of the trail are as follows:

Segment 1: Hermitage Blvd. to Potts Rd. (map)

This segment is the northernmost segment of the trail, running roughly east-west between Hermitage Blvd. and Potts Rd., and is also the shortest at one-third of a mile in length. Benches are located at each end of the trail but there is no trailhead in this region. The segment heading east from Hermitage Blvd. features a nice gradual hill climb.

To get from the end of this segment to the start of the next segment, turn right on Potts Rd. and head down the hill. When Potts Rd. turns to the left, a short trail to the right of the Centerville Rd. overpass will continue straight. Follow this trail, ultimately bearing to the paved path on the left side of the highway at the intersection of Centerville Rd. and Blair Stone Rd. From here, it is a little more than a half-mile to the Blair Stone Rd. and Miccosukee Rd. intersection; turn left on Miccosukee Rd. and you’ll find the next segment of the trail a short distance on your right. Note that the paved path along Blair Stone Rd. is also a nice path to run along with several steep hills and multiple locations to get water; it extends south to Park Avenue.

Segment 2: Miccosukee Rd. to Mahan Dr. (map)

The start of this segment of the trail is just east of the intersection of Miccosukee Rd. and Blair Stone Rd. This portion of the trail runs alongside a powerline right-of-way corridor and is a great example of adding nice running paths and trails in urban regions. This segment of the trail is flat and extends for one kilometer in length. As with the first segment, there are benches located at each end of the trail but no trailhead at either end.

The easiest way to get from the end of this segment to the start of the third and final segment of the trail is to turn left on Mahan Dr. and run up the hill to Capital Circle NE, turning right and heading to Easterwood Dr. at the National Guard Armory. Turn left on Easterwood, then take a quick left on Weems Rd. and head down the hill. The trail will be on your right just before the railroad tracks. Alternatively, you can cross Mahan Dr. to the Ft. Knox Office Center parking lot, running to its back to a short, unpaved path. This will take you to the Fern Trail, where you can turn left and head to Tom Brown Park.

Segment 3: Tom Brown Park (map)

The final segment of the trail is also its longest, running along the north and east sides of Tom Brown Park from Weems Rd. to Connor Blvd. An out-and-back on the trail from end to end is approximately 5K, making it a good choice for a time trial or a short weekday run. Due to its location, it is also the most heavily traveled portion of the trail. You’ll find a mix of flat terrain and gently rolling hills under a dense tree canopy on this portion of the trail, a contrast to that found on the other two segments that are more urban in nature.

Tom Brown Park is a gateway to numerous trails and trail systems in Tallahassee: Goose Pond Trail, the Magnolia Mountain Bike Trails, a series of fitness trails in the woods north of the Goose Pond Trail, the Lafayette Heritage and Cadillac Trails, and the entire Alford Arm Greenway property. In addition, concentrated hill running may be found in the Piney-Z neighborhood at the end of the Goose Pond Trail. A great place to access these trails is the parking area near the large playground in the center of the park; restroom and water facilities may be found here, the Goose Pond Trail runs right alongside, and the trailhead for the Lafayette/Cadillac Trails is a short distance to the west.

All in all, the Goose Pond Trail and connecting paths provide approximately five miles of running path in an urban setting that can be easily accessed from nearly anywhere in town.

Lafayette Heritage Trail City Park

By John Harvey

Directions: From the junction of Park Avenue and Capital Circle East (US 319), head east on Conner Boulevard. Turn left on Heritage Park Drive. The park is at the dead-end.

At first glance, the new Lafayette Heritage Trail City Park in Tallahassee looks like a quaint neighborhood park with a lake view and a small kiddy playground. In reality, it is a premier North Florida trailhead at the center point of a new mixed use trail system that branches out over 10 miles in both directions covering nearly 2,000 acres of contiguous parklands and conservation easements. The new park has an ADA accessible pier, a canoe/kayak launch, plus miles of shoreline and dikes available for fishing and birding. The parking lot has a nice view of Lake Piney Z under a live oak canopy. There are restrooms and drinking water. The far shore is lined with cypress trees and trains frequently travel 140 year old tracks in good view behind them. The new park consists of the buffer zone between the new Piney Z single family development and Lake Lafayette. It's not completely finished but the gates are now open.

The new park provides very convenient lake access for fisherman and birders. The trailhead is at the mid-point of the Cadillac and Lafayette Heritage Multi-Use Trails. The trails merge on the old shoreline road on either side of the parking lot area. This trail section is being re routed around the front of the park in order to avoid the heavy pedestrian area and children's playground next to the lake. The park is also linked to the Goose Pond Trail with a paved pathway paralleling the Piney Z road system.

Many locals are familiar with the 7 mile long Cadillac Bike Trail which resides within the now opened Lafayette Heritage Trail Park. What many people don't realize is that land managers were making plans to build both a multi-use trail and a single-track trail for this corridor long before the Cadillac was secretly installed. As part of those plans, a new pedestrian bridge was built over Conner Creek this January to connect Tom Brown Park (near the dog training area) to Lafayette Heritage Trail Park. The bridge marks the western trailhead of both the Cadillac Trail and the new section of the Lafayette Heritage multi-use trail. The most southerly section of the multi-use trail traverses an outstanding designated old growth forest in the Conner Creek basin and contains bluff top vistas of the main sinkhole on the north shore of Upper Lake Lafayette. At 6' wide with gentle grades, the new trail is perfect for casual strollers, joggers and novice bikers. It also makes for a round trip return for Cadillac riders.

In an effort to make the Cadillac more sustainable and also more fun and scenic, some routes have been designed. A consultant from the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) was here in January working with staff and volunteers to start implementing the revised routes. A number of full-bench sections and a few structures were built as a result. The new segments reflect current best trail practices and are good examples of how trails can be built on steep slopes with minimal long-term impact and nominal maintenance needs.

Other Lake Lafayette Basin Trailheads:

- Tom Brown City Park. This remains the major starting point and race venue for area mountain bikers with the Magnolia Course and south trailhead to the Cadillac Trail.

- Alford Arm County Park in the northeast off Bucklake Road. Until the planned pedestrian bridge is built over the RR tracks, the connection from Alford Arm to the south shore is not officially open. Equestrians are accommodated at this trailhead. The official trail system in Alford Arm Park is still in planning and development though some single-track has already been installed. There is a network of old farm roads that can get you to the far east or north parts of the park. These old farm fields are on a large peninsula whose far reaches account for the most remote, and most easterly point of a trail system that starts fifteen miles and four parks away, within a couple miles of the state capital building. This park will eventually have a good link to the Miccosukee Greenway in the northeast.

It has been proposed to establish a single track trail in the lake basin that would link Governors Park (Fern Trail), Tom Brown Park (new single-track paralleling the Goose Pond paved trail), Lafayette Heritage Trail Park (Cadillac Trail) and Alford Arm Park (planned single track paralleling the RR). The trail could have a consistent feel, flow and signage so that it seemed as one continuous, moderately difficult, single-track trail. Locals have no problem making these links now but it would be good for locals and visitors alike to officially establish and manage the trail system as one entity. The trail would be unique for its urban setting, length and quality. For most of the corridor, a paralleling multi-use trail is, or could be, established as well. That makes for some significantly long round trips, no matter if you access the trail near downtown or in eastern Leon County or anywhere in between.

Congratulations to the Tallahassee Parks and Recreation Department for developing such an excellent new community park and trailhead and for their efforts to build high quality sustainable trails. Also thanks to other land managers and agencies including Leon County Parks Department, Tallahassee-Leon County Greenway Planners, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Trust for Public Land and Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Lake Henrietta Trailhead

Herb Wills, August 2, 2008

The parking lot for the Lake Henrietta Trailhead is waiting for a coat of blacktop. The trailhead is located on Springhill Road about 0.7 miles south of the intersection of West Orange Avenue and Springhill Road.

The trail itself is all but finished. It's a wide, blacktopped bike trail that makes a circuit of about two kilometers around Lake Henrietta. A pair of sturdy bridges near the trailhead are currently closed, guarded by quietly menacing signs reading "Keep Off Bridge."  There is no bridge over Lake Henrietta's southern outlet; I don't know if one is planned or if trail users will have to ford the outlet attimes of high water. Beyond a gate near this outlet is a dirt trail along Munson Slough, which flows south to Lake Munson by way of Capital Circle.

The lake is appreciated by birds, turtles, and at least one alligator. The trail appears to only be accessible from the trailhead along Springhill Road, which has a very small parking area. Trail users will also have to bring their own shade--there are no trees close to the trail.

In the Future, the Lake Henrietta Trail may connect with the St Marks Trail through the Capital Cascades Greenway trail system. This will also connect with the GFA trail, and you will be able to connect with passenger service to the Moon through Tallahassee Municipal Airport.
 

Lake Overstreet Trail(s)

lake overstreet

Photo by Karl Hempel

By Gordon Cherr

Map

Lake Overstreet- There are numerous points of entry for the Lake Overstreet trail(s), which are west of Lake Hall and Maclay Garden State Park, but the best is to park at Forest Meadows on north Meridian Road, and CAREFULLY cross Meridian, keeping a wary eye out for traffic approaching rapidly from the north and south. You can also enter through Maclay Gardens State Park off of Thomasville Road.

The main trail is basically a figure-8, the upper loop is roughly 2 miles back to the start, the lower loop is about 3.3 miles and circles pristine Lake Overstreet. Putting them together is a hilly connecting straightaway which makes the entire affair about 5.5 miles. The terrain is rolling with a few good hills thrown in to keep you honest. The trails are heavily shaded, making this a favorite multi-use trail for runners, hikers and mountain bikers. The footing is generally good, but be aware of tree roots, an occasional low, boggy spot and large trees are known to fall across the trail, especially after big storms, so use the normal caution when running out here. Occasionally, someone rides a horse on the trails, so make sure you make a lot of noise if you come up on someone from the rear.

Although not described here, there are several connecting trails, one to Lake Hall and Maclay Gardens, another (dubbed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" by local mountain goats, giving away their age) which is a single file trail with a lot of roots and logs so be careful), but which runs down into an absolutely awesome ravine area and back up and out, maybe 2 miles total, and another into the HighGrove subdivision.

Parking at Forest Meadows is a breeze, and if you need to use the bathroom, just walk in there like you belong and no one will bother you. The Lake Overstreet trails are the finest example of how fortunate we are to live and run here. Deer are not unusual here, nor are possum or armadillo and more than the occasional pileated woodpecker can be heard. Waive and say "hey" to the other runners! They'll be there, too.

The Leon Sinks - A part of the Apalachicola National Forest

By David Yon

Map

The sinks are among my first memories of Tallahassee. When I first arrived here to attend Florida State University in 1974 and asked what the heck there was to do, "check out the sinks" was one of the first answers I got. Even though running was not part of my routine then, it was a great suggestion. Of course back then you could swim in them and there was virtually no environmental management. The result was lots of trash and damaging erosion. That is all gone now though and this trail provides a taste of some of North Florida's prettiest terrain. It is a fragile eco system and the swimming has been stopped, but if you stay on the trails there is much to see without doing any damage. There are 15 or so sinks in this park, some dry, but most with water. Many are connected by a network of underground caves that have taken the lives of experienced divers. There are some great overhangs from which to view the sinks and a geography lesson if you take the time to read the signs.

To get to the trail drive south on 319 approximately 5.5 miles from Capital Circle. The entry is clearly marked and is on the right. There is a $2 parking fee per vehicle at the trail head for Leon Sinks. This money is for a great, under funded cause! There are three trails that run through this park - the Sinkhole Trail, Crossover Trail and the Gum Swamp Trail. The park trails are well marked. The Sinkhole Trail and Crossover Trail combined are approximately 3.6 miles according to GWTC member and Forest Service employee Terry Tenold. He also informs us that the combined Sinkhole and Gum Swamp Trail is about 5.4 miles. The Gum Swamp trail can be muddy if it has rained recently, so wear your old shoes when you run. There are many sinks (including Big Dismal) and a lot variety in these trails. It may be hard to get more than 5 or 6 miles without running two loops, but it is perfect for those days you are looking for a short run. I suspect there are an endless number of "unofficial" trails located nearby in the forest.

Miccosukee Greenway Trails
 

By David Yon, Rev July, 2008

This wonderful trail is a great example of what persistence and cooperative efforts can produce. The state of Florida, through the Trust for Public Lands, and a lot of local input (Friends of MCRG) acquired approximately 405 acres along Miccosukee Road from Fleischmann Road to Crump Road. The trails, 17 miles worth, now run from Fleishman Road to Crump Road and there is parking on Fleishman, Edenfield, Thornton and Crump Road.  It is somewhere between 7 and 8 miles from one end to the other. There is water at Edenfield and Thornton Roads. Tallahassee residents have long been strong proponents of canopy roads and Miccosukee Road is the premier canopy road in the area. Huge live oaks, sweet gums and hickory trees cast their protective shade over the road and now this greenway. One of the unique aspects of this trail are the very nice views of wide-open pastureland and rolling hills. The open spaces created by these pastures create the opportunity for oak trees to spread out under the sun and grow to enormous size. Much of the trail runs along the Welaunee Plantation and you will see a fair number of cows enjoying the great outdoors.  There is a map of the area at: http://www.leoncountyfl.gov/parks/greenways.asp#Trail.  You can find a map of some cross country courses here.

Fleishman to Edenfield

There is now a nice trail head and parking at Fleishman Road with a port-a-let but no water.  The Edenfield Road parking lot is located near the center of the trail and you can find water there. It is about 1.3 to 1.5 miles from one parking lot to the other and there are several trails and loops to run. One trail takes you through the middle of the property, showcasing the heavy tree cover and one takes you along the fence line along the property's edge and gives more views of the pasture lands.  The trails merge as you approach Edenfield providing terrific view of pastureland, oaks and just grand scenery.

Edenfield to Thornton

Keep going through the parking lot and head east. This loop is a bit longer than the west end especially if you loop around the field at the end. Running around the field at the end and taking the single track back, it took me about 28 minutes. After running across a field, you will enter the woods again and find a nice wide trail. You can follow the trail all the way to the east end of the trail. Here you will find parking and a huge field, which one day may become a sports complex. You can run a loop around the field, adding maybe 5 minutes to your run, and then head back toward the main parking lot. Alternatively, if you draw a line from the parking lot to a point in the woods where 10:30 would be on a watch, you will find the beginning of a single track trail that runs along the northern boundary of the park. This trail will merge with the main trail just before it reaches the East parking lot. If you are looking for this trail on the way back, you will find it just after you cross a relatively open stretch of rolling hills. Just before you enter the thicker woods, you will see a house or church on the left near the road. Off to the right will be the single-track trail. It will take you back to the parking lot by way of the north side of the park, near Welaunee Plantation. This trail still has a number of stubs and, as of June 11, is not well beaten down. But that will come soon enough, so don’t be afraid to use it.

Thornton to Crump

The trail now runs under I-10 all the way to Crump Road.  It is approximately 4 miles one way depending on which trail you take.  The trail crosses Miccosukee twice and has lots of splinters so you have to pay attention.  The is a wide main trail and lots of single track for variety.  It is different terrain worth exploring.  You will find wooden bridges to cross and sometimes a creek, depending on the rain.  There is a parking lot at Crump Road, but no water.

Miller's Landing Road

By Gordon D. Cherr

Map

Miller's Landing Road is located off of Meridian Road in northern Leon County. It is near Maclay School, and in between Maclay Road and Oxbottom Road. The Leon County soccer complex is located here, as well as the trailhead for the many fine running, biking and hiking trails in Elinor Phipps Park. In fact, you can park at the soccer fields or even at Forest Meadows near the Red Bug Trail (across the street from the Lake Overstreet trailhead) and jog over to Miller's Landing Road.

Miller's Landing Road runs from Meridian Road to Miller's Landing, on the shore of Lake Jackson. It is a rolling, paved two lane blacktop/ asphalt roadway, with never very much traffic to speak of, a lot of shade, a few very good hills and beautiful scenery from one end to the other including many fine canopy live oaks. There are several beautiful homes set back on the south side of the roadway and after a mile and a half or so, some terrific views off to your left, of Lake Jackson, as the road is mostly a good elevation above the lake at this point. The north side of Miller's Landing Road is entirely undeveloped and is part of the 30,000+ acre Phipps Plantation.

Starting near the soccer fields and parking lots, it is almost exactly three (3) miles to Lake Jackson. There is no place to get water on this run, so hump up before you leave the soccer fields, and there are water fountains and bathrooms located there. Also, there are no street lights on Miller's Landing Road, so this is a daylight run only. Besides, any number of very drunk teenagers regularly drive this road at night to party at the landing, especially on weekends, and more than a handful have crashed and died on Miller's Landing Road over the past few years.

Regardless, Miller's Landing Road is a beautiful running road, the scenery is great, birds and butterflies are found in great abundance here, as well as deer, possum and armadillo. I have also seen bobcat here on more than one occasion. The run itself is very much up and down, with few flat stretches. The best thing to do in hot weather is to run down to the lake, kick off your shoes and jump right in! The water here is shallow, cool and refreshing. In fact, you might find yourself sitting there for a good while before getting up sufficient incentive to head back. But leave yourself something in reserve for the return trip which is more uphill than downhill, especially that first nasty little hill which brought you down to Lake Jackson. It will wear you out on the way back.

Munson Hills Trail

By Gordon Cherr

Map

Munson Hills- everyone knows how to get to the Rails To Trails trail head on south Monroe Street. Just in case you don't though, head south from the center of town on Monroe Street. Just past Capital Circle on the right you will see the main parking area for the Rails to Trail. The Munson Hills trail really begins here for me. Instead of running the pavement, there is a little-used bridle path to the right (west) of the asphalt. Take that instead (although the pavement parallels this all the way), and follow this for about 1.25 miles to the entrance of the "Munson Hills" bike trail. You can't miss it, there is a sign there, and a split rail fence, bench and water fountain. Just hang a right and you are there. There is a bathroom, on the left, further in.

Then, once on the trail, follow the blue paint slashes on the pine trees. The trail is a long loop, so you can go left or right once on the trail and come back out in the same place, no worries, mate. If you bear right, for example, follow this through quiet forests of loblolly and slash pine, and the more recently replanted longleaf pine. The trail is sandy and soft on your feet. Likely, the only thing you will hear is the breeze through the tops of the pine trees, the sound is very discernable and like nothing else you have ever heard. This is a piney upland area and I always see fox squirrel here, and sometimes if you are lucky and observant, a gopher tortoise noisily plowing his way through the underbrush. In the spring and summer there are bright green bryophyte ferns growing in great abundance here, painting a very striking picture in the ever-shifting shadows of the tall pine trees.

After 25-30 minutes of running (from the trailhead on south Monroe), you will come out to a "crossroads". There are two ways to go here: the first and shorter section is the "Pine Top Short Course". This is a section marked by white paint slashes on the trees, and covers maybe 2 miles (I'm guessing here). This short section winds up and down and around several small ponds/depressions and the trail is pretty much single file. While the trail is well worn here, you need to pay attention to the trail markers, because numerous roads and other trails will cross your route. This is a curvy, windy section, and I once ran headlong (literally) into a coyote coming the other way along the trail (I'm not certain who was more startled), but after a short moment of getting untangled from one another, we each headed our separate ways in peace. I was much richer spiritually for the experience. The coyote didn't say one way or another, but I suspect that she really didn't give a damn.

Anyway, this short section of trail comes out, eventually, at another "crossroads". If you bear left, you will be back on a section which takes you back to the bridle path, eventually. Follow the paint slashes, blue again. Recently someone was kind enough to put up a printed sign here, showing which was the correct trail to take to get back, but people tend to screw around with these things and if you don't know the trail, you might just want to run out here with those who do, until you learn the way. Unless you want the real "wilderness" experience of getting lost. The distance of the loop from your entry at the bridle path through the Pine Top Short Course and back to the bridle path is about 4.75 miles.

Previously I noted that there were two ways to go at the first "crossroads". The other, longer trail is the "Munson Hills" trail. The road sign is obvious here, and just continue to follow the blue paint slashes. You will continue on through the woods and you'll know that you're going the right way when you come out at a tall power line and a very wide sandy roadway. Actually, this is the only "dangerous" place, because during hunting season, some "people" like to sit in their trucks and pick off deer as they cross the road (the deer, that is). So, if you insist on running through the Apalachicola National Forest during hunting season, it is in your best interests to wear something very bright, like red shorts and an electric green top, and leave the Bullwinkle Moose antlers at home.

This section of trail is a loop that eventually crosses back under the power lines, further south. Keep on going and you'll come out at that second "crossroads" again. Now, you bear right and you're headed back to the bridle path. Instead of about 4.75 miles, this longer loop from bridle path to bridle path is about 7.25 miles. Again, it is easy to get lost here, and it is more enjoyable to run with a friend who knows his/her way until you learn the trails.

Overall, running in the Apalachicola National Forest is one of my favorite experiences. Shannon Sullivan is probably the local guru on the innumerable trails which we have access to in the forest, and he is always helpful and sharing. In fact, if you tell Shannon, he'll probably want to go run along with you, and you can't do any better than that. The forest runs are full of wildlife that should be observed, respected and quietly left alone. Please be watchful on the trails for both your footing (I can attest to the fact that it is a long walk out of there if you hurt yourself) and in warmer weather there usually are snakes laying around waiting for unwary prey. While most are harmless I have seen and jumped over pygmy rattlesnakes out here, and I've probably missed more than what I have seen.

There are no "facilities" in the forest. So, if you take a long run, you might therefore want to tote in your own water and whatever else (e.g. Gu), but if you pack it in, please pack it out. Finally, there was a very "unfortunate" event on the Rails to Trails trail several years ago, when a woman was sexually assaulted. If you have the least bit of trepidation, run with a friend or several of them. Besides, the more runners, the more enjoyable the run, right?

Munson Hills Extensions

The trails in Munson Hills are growing.   Check out the estimated distances for each trail, including Munson Hills - the Original - and the map of the area.

Munson Hills Loop 7.5
Twilight Loop 9.5
Tall Pines Shortcut 1.0
East Connector 0.6
West Connector 0.6
Gun Range Shortcut 0.1
Luge 0.4
Munson Access 0.1
Twilight Access 0.1

Trail Map

Munson Hills South – “Twilight Zone” Trail

Clark Evans, March 9, 2008

The “Twilight Zone” trail, or “Munson Hills South” as it may eventually come to be known, is a new 9.7 mile singletrack trail through the Apalachicola National Forest south of Tallahassee. While primarily designed for bicycle use, like the main Munson Hills trail, the Twilight Zone trail also accommodates runners, walkers, and hikers. To get there, take Woodville Highway south of town until you come across J. Lewis Hall Park Dr. about 3 miles south of Capital Circle. Turn right and follow the road into J. Lewis Hall Park. Alternatively, you can also start at the main St. Marks Trail trailhead on Woodville Highway just south of Capital Circle and follow the paved trail 2.5 miles south to J. Lewis Hall Park. The trailhead is located behind the northwestern most baseball fields on the north end of the park, near the restroom facilities.  This map gives on overview.

Terrain along the trail is much like that along the main Munson Hills trail: sandy with the occasional tree root or such to cause you to watch your footing. One notable difference, however, is that this trail is a bit bumpier primarily due to a number of very small sand moguls. Otherwise, you’ll be passing through the slash and longleaf pine forests found throughout the Munson Hills area. It is quite the pleasant experience, particularly when the wind is blowing or on a cool spring or fall day in the region. Ample amounts of shade except through a couple of clear-cut areas help keep things a tad cooler than elsewhere, particularly into the summer months. I could go on about describing running in the forest, but Gordon Cherr already did so in a much better fashion than I could ever hope. Check out his description of the Munson Hills trail to see what I mean as well as to get a feel for running on this trail.

Setting out clockwise along the trail from the trailhead, you’ll come across a couple of clear-cut areas in the first couple of miles. These should eventually be replaced with natural longleaf pine plantings, much as has taken place in other areas of the forest. The trail is well-worn and easy to follow through these regions in the interim, however. About halfway through, or five miles in, a white-blazed trail will cut off to your left, connecting you to the southwest side of the main Munson Hills trail if you so desire. A short time thereafter, another white-blazed trail on your right provides a short-cut back to the southern end of the trail. An additional off-road connector to the main Munson Hills development is under development for the last half-mile of the trail. The aforementioned small sand moguls are most common to the first and last couple miles of the trail; the middle portions are a tad hillier overall but with fewer moguls.

A couple of quick notes: first, there is still some work ongoing along the trail as of March 2008 with a projected opening date of April 2008. While most of the major work is done in terms of final trail routing and layout, trail workers are still hard at work painting blazes and ensuring that the path is easy to follow for years to come. In the interim, you’ll be following pink flags and flagging tape along the trail in a few areas where blue blazes are still in the process of being painted. Secondly, on the southwestern edge of the trail, you may hear the occasional gun shot as the trail passes near the shooting range along Oak Ridge Road. A large earthen mound is present to keep ammunition confined within the range, so there’s little need to worry about any danger from the shots.

As with the main Munson Hills trail, there are no facilities located in the forest, so be sure to bring along anything you may need with you as you set out on the trail. Full facilities are available at the trailhead in J. Lewis Hall Park, however. Due to its isolated nature, it can’t hurt to have a partner along for the run or ride, particularly someone familiar with the trails while they are still in their formative stages. All in all, though, the Twilight Zone trail is shaping up to be a fine addition to the hundreds of miles of trails located in or near Tallahassee and perfect for a long run and escape from the heat. Look for the “official” opening sometime in April.
 

Myers Park/Indian Head Acres Course

By James Silvanima

This is a non-loop 10k, which covers a similar area of town through which the Tallahassee Springtime 10 K is run.

I start at my house, 527 East Call, but there are a number of good starting/ending points along the run (such as Myers Park, West Indian Head Acres, etc.). Run down E. Call Street through the intersection of Call and Franklin Blvd. Cross the Railroad tracks on Call and then immediately exit right onto Cadiz St. Follow to Park Ave. Run up Park to Broward St. and hang another right. Run down Broward through the intersection of Apalachee PKWY (cross very, very carefully!). Now the uphill, cross St. Augustine and enter Myers Park. Run parallel to Myers Park Rd. on the park trail until you get to first Left at the top of the hill. Hang this left onto Circle Dr. (it may be Merritt Rd. for the first couple of blocks, I'm uncertain, but just say on this first left off of Myers Park Rd. and the road will become Circle Dr. at some point when you cross an intersection). Run up Circle all the way to Magnolia Dr. Hang a right on Magnolia and run about 200 yards to Toochin Nene. Hang a left from Magnolia onto Toochin Nene. Run down hill on Toochin Nene to West Indian Head Dr. and hang a right on West Indian Head. Run down/up West Indian Head to Mountbatten Rd. Run Mountbatten to Jim Lee Road and then take a right onto Jim Lee. Run Jim Lee to the intersection of Magnolia and then take a left onto Magnolia. Run Magnolia to Meridian Rd and hang a right onto Meridian. Run Meridian to Van Buren St. At the intersection of Van Buren and Meridian hang a left onto Van Buren. Run one block on Van Buren to Gadsden St. Hang a right onto Gadsden and run Gadsden all the way to Call St. Hang a right onto Call St. and run down hill through the intersection of Call and Meridian and you end up back were you started from!

I traveled this loop in my car and came up with 6.1 miles, however, when you run this course the section through Myers Park is longer than the road.

Points of reference the black, brown and white beagle box on Mountbatten Rd is 5 K from my house (trust me, there is only one of these mail boxes on Mountbatten!).

Concerns .... Traffic.... Avoid crossing Apalachee PKWY, and running down Gadsden during peak rush hour traffic, or you may by waiting a series of minutes at a few intersections. I run when I can and frequently end up running in rush hour. It really isn't as bad as it sounds. In fact, the cars are moving slower if anything.

If you like hills this route has 'em. If you run the route in reverse you must contend with a ~.5 mile section of Magnolia which is all uphill and steep! Running in the direction given above you must content with large uphill sections from Apalachee PKWY to Magnolia Dr.!

I like this course but realize that because of the crossing at Apalachee and the two railroad crossings it could never be made into a road race course. You could always deviate and run the section of Spring Time that runs down Franklin under Apalachee and up LaFayette to Myers Park Dr. I don't know what this would do to the length but it should be about the same with this alteration.

New Hope Church Road

By Betsy Hutton

Directions: Drive north on Thomasville Road, past County Road 12 on the left, and turn right on Sunny Hill Road. Sunny Hill starts out paved and then becomes clay.* Drive 3.5 miles to New Hope Church Road on the left. The little New Hope Church, which is used one Sunday morning a month, is on the corner. You can park in the church’s dirt “parking lot.”

New Hope Church Road is a graded, one lane, mostly shaded, dirt road that runs for 3.75 miles north into Georgia, where it dead-ends in Metcalf Road. Except for two or three small homes, this country road runs between Abernathy and Firman plantation land. Out and back is 7.5 miles. Turkey, deer, and other tracks are abundant on the road. It’s peaceful and quiet. Vehicles are rare and can be heard coming for miles Dogs are not evident. This road has three pretty good hills.

If you want a longer run, you can turn right on Metcalf Road and run 3.2 miles to Spring Hill Road. (Pavement starts after 1.5 miles.) Turn right on Spring Hill and run 2.8 miles back to Sunny Hill Road in Florida (Spring Hill Road becomes “Old” Centerville Road at the Florida/Georgia line). Turn right on Sunny Hill and run 2 miles to New Hope Church Road and your car. A few vehicles and dogs may be possible on this section. The whole circuit is 11.75 miles.

*Sunny Hill will undergo more paving in the near future.

Old Centerville Road

By Gordon Cherr  (revised 2-01-07 by David Yon)

Map

Old Centerville Road is an out and back affair, with good shade and some long, steep hills. It is now the home of the GWTC 30K and running the 30K is a great way to experience this race.  Go out of Tallahassee on Centerville Road, heading north/northeast towards the Georgia line. The start of Old Centerville Road is almost opposite Bradley's Country Store (approximately 13 miles past Capital Circle), and you can park in Bradley's lot.  If the store is open drop in to see a landmark and buy some fluid to get you through the run or to recover after the run.  Right across the street from Bradley's Country Store you will see Bradley Road.  It is just a short jaunt down this road (less than two minutes slow jog) to Old Centerville.  The road dead ends into Old Centerville.  Turn right and head to Georgia. 

Once you hit Old Centerville, just tie up your shoe laces and run as far as you want, then back. Old Centerville Road is heavily shaded, traffic is light to non-existent, and most of the road is a red clay base, with some gravel mixed in every now and then.  It is a great place to experience that "runner's high" we all dream about.  On a day of heavy rain it can be slippery in places after a good rain. The first two and a quarter miles is now paved, but it is still pretty.  There is a small church on the right after 4.5 miles, and you can get water there from a spigot around the side of the church. You can follow this road to the Georgia line, where the road becomes paved again.  It is somewhere around 6.2 to 6.4 miles to the state line and pavement.  It becomes Springhill Road at this point.  You can find your way all the way to Metcaf if you go straight.

About 0.1 mile before the dirt road ends and the pavement begins, you can take a left on Sunny Hill Farms Road. You can run this also very shady, rather hilly route for another 5.7 miles, where it "T's" out on Thomasville Road, near CR 12, not far from the Georgia line. There is another church with a water spigot on the right a couple miles or so after you turn on to Sunny Hill. There is also a small dirt road that heads north from the church. I do not know how far it goes but it is another great running trail. So, this route lends itself to an out and back course to the state line of around 12.5  miles, depending upon your odometer, (Old Centerville Road to the pavement and back), or an even longer out and back of 24-25 miles (Old Centerville to Thomasville Road and back), or a long one way run of slightly more than 12 miles (Old Centerville to Thomasville Road, but you need two cars for that one).

However you do this run, it is a pleasant one where you won't see much traffic or even very many people. You are in the middle of some beautiful North Florida plantation land, basically out in the middle of nowhere. My personal preference has always been to not do this run alone. The biggest drawback is that the black flies can be voracious out here during part of the year, and you are well advised to bring a large can of OFF (to feed them with) or some similar concoction.

Red Bug Trail

By Gordon Cherr

Map

Red Bug Trail- The entrance to the Red Bug Trail is due south of the Forest Meadows parking lot, on north Meridian Road, about one mile north of Maclay Road . It is shaded all of the time, so it makes for a good hot weather run.

The trail is short-maybe 3 miles or so, and winds constantly, often through very narrow openings in between trees. The footing is, well... questionable at best, with a lot of roots and rocks and wet, boggy areas. It is up and down almost all of the way. This is really a mountain biking trail so be very careful of the bikers and always give them the right of way because they can't stop and you can. Normally, you won't see anyone, anyway. There are a few small streams to cross, some recently constructed boardwalks which can be very slippery when wet, and someone will need to do a "tick check" on you when you are finished.

This is a neat place to run, but an excellent place to twist the heck out of your ankles, so if you are training for an important race, you may want to stay away from the Red Bug Trail for awhile. There is a lot of wildlife out here but you won't see it. Your eyes will be glued squarely on the trail directly in front of you. Besides, you can't run the Red Bug Trail without falling down at least once.

San Luis Park
 

Clark Evans, March 5, 2008

Located on the northwest side of Tallahassee, the trails at San Luis Park may be short in distance but are certainly not short in elevation gain! To experience these trails for yourself, simply take Tharpe Street west from Monroe Street. Immediately past Ocala after the road narrows from four to two lanes and crests a rather large hill, a stoplight will appear. Turn left at this light onto San Luis Road; at the bottom of the hill, the park will be located on your left. Parking is abundant, restrooms are available, and signs are posted denoting the location of the trails.

Starting near the parking area on the north side of the lake, the trail is comprised of four uniquely named but very short loops, gradually climbing the hillside you plunged down to get to the park. Circling around these loops, to the top of the hill and back, will give you about a mile in distance. A good workout is to run up the hill on the northeast side of the park and jog back down along the loops; the uphill portion is about a quarter-mile in length at a reasonable grade.

Once you are done with the north side loops, you have your choice of a footbridge over the lake or a flat dirt trail along its shore paralleling San Luis Road to get to the south side of the park and more trails. The trailhead for these trails is located between the end of the footbridge and the dog park found just to its east. The main loop on this side of the park is a shade over a half-mile in length with very little of it flat in nature; two short-cut trails allow you to shave off some distance over repeated loops. The climbs here are fairly persistent whereas the north side trails gain elevation more gradually.

You’ll probably notice a lot of “cut-ins” to the woods and the south side trails along the short paved path through the park, most of which are closed off to the public via signage and fencing. Significant trail work in mid-2007 designed to curb erosion and drainage issues with the trails eliminated many of these paths and resulted in new trails that gradually climb the slope of the hills rather than go straight up them. The plus side of this work is that the hills are no longer the unforgiving climbs with numerous holes and exposed roots that they once were; the trail runners amongst us may disagree with this assessment, however!

Altogether, the trails in San Luis Park are about 1.5-1.75 miles in length, not ideal for a long run but with a couple of loops perfect for a good hill workout or leisurely stroll. You’ll see a lot of local residents and young families doing just that on any given day. With abundant tree cover, it’s also a nice way to run and briefly manage the summer heat that we know all too well in Tallahassee. Just don’t say you weren’t warned about a few hills

Springtime 10K Course

By David Yon

Map

This is the home of Tallahassee's biggest road race - Springtime. The course is all on pavement and runs through one of Tallahassee's prettiest neighborhoods - Myers Park. This is a great place to run, but beware traffic can be a problem and there are no sidewalks in a number of areas. During the race, the police stop the traffic so it is no big deal. However, if you are running in the evening during rush hour traffic you got a big problem. So remember the warning - you are responsible for your own safety.

Monroe Street is the main street downtown and 215 is a few blocks south of the intersection of Tennessee and Monroe. The race starts just south of the bank building on the south side of Jefferson Ave, but north of the courthouse. As you read this, Paul Hiers is busy working on permanent mile markers for the course. Bill McGuire has been busy marking the start, all of the mile splits and the finish. To start, head north on Monroe toward Tennessee Street. Turn right on Call Street, the last street before Tennessee. Proceed down (and I mean down a steep hill) Call to Franklin Boulevard. Turn right on Franklin and watch out, there is no sidewalk and no room. You will find the one mile mark on Franklin at the intersection of that street and Jefferson. It gets a little tricky here - continue on Franklin under the overpass (that's Apalachee Parkway on top) and bear to the left on Lafayette Street.

Now you must pay for that downhill on Call street you loved so much. Climb up Lafayette, under another overpass (this time for a set of train tracks) until you reach Myers Park Dr. Turn right and continue to the next crossing intersection and the first road you can bear right on. You will see the park on your right during this stretch. Bear to the right and you will still be on Myers Park Dr. You will see tennis courts on your right. Continue past Golf Terrace Road which dead ends into Myers Park Dr. Just past Golf Terrace the road will fork. Bear to your left on Van Bueren St. Just before you bear left at the fork, you will see the 2 mile mark next to a no parking sign and near a telephone poll on the left side of the road. The second mile probably has the most elevation gain of any on the course. Not to say the next mile does not roll though. In fact right after the two mile mark you will fly down a short steep hill, only to climb right back up. Near the top of the hill you should turn left on Meridian.

This is one of the longest straight-aways on the course. Head south until you reach Thornhall then turn left. It is just a short jaunt and you reach Golf Terrace. Turn left, but stay on the right side of the island. On your right you will see Myers Park Country Club. Stop and play 18 if you like, especially if you are ahead of me during the 10K. You will find the 3 mile mark on the right side of the road where Union Street intersects Golf Terrace. If you reach the end of the island you have missed it, but maybe you will be able to find the 5K mark which is right across the street from 1526 Golf Terrace. If you have been paying attention to these directions, you know that Golf Terrace ends at Myers Park Dr. Take a right and continue until you see Santa Rosa. Bear to the right on Santa Rosa and follow it all the way until it dead ends at Seminole. Turn right and run until you see Cherokee on your left. One block or so before Cherokee you will see the 4 mile mark on the left side of the street. For me this mile is no man's land during the race. It has a lot of deceptive uphill grades that eat away at your time. But once you hit the 4 mile mark, you are headed home on two of the fastest miles on the course.

Turn left on Cherokee and go one block. Make another left on Alban and climb the last real hill. Follow Alban until it dead ends. Turn left on Azalea and follow it until it dead ends at Seminole. Make another left and proceed to the stop sign. Turn right on Circle Dr. and fly down the hill. At the bottom, with the duck pond off to your right, right across from 845 Circle Dr., you will find the 5 mile mark. Just past the 5 mile mark turn right on Myers Park Dr. Head back to Lafayette and turn left. This is your last chance to let it out on a downhill - so do it. Proceed under the railroad tracks again. Remember how much better you felt the first time you passed under these? The road will flatten out and then start curving up and to the left. Keep going until Lafayette becomes Meridian and then dead ends into Gaines St. You are almost there. Turn left on Gaines. The 6 mile mark is on your left a little ways before you reach Suwanee. Turn left on Suwanee and head for the finish. The finish is in front of the Department of Transportation in the middle of the crosswalk. Great job and stop cursing me for sending you on this hilly route or I will not tell you how to get back to your car.

St. Marks Trail

Clark Evans, January 15, 2008

A map of the main portion of the trail may be found by clicking here.

The St. Marks Trail is one of Tallahassee’s oldest and most famous trails, opening in 1988 as Florida’s first “rails-to-trails” conversion project. In its heyday in the 1800s, the old Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad transported goods from the bustling port town of St. Marks into Tallahassee, the territorial state capital. Nowadays, it transports walkers, runners, cyclists, and equestrian users along a 20.5 mile paved corridor extending from Gamble Street south of Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee to Riverside Drive in St. Marks. In the future, it will extend to the west side of Tallahassee, running from near Florida State University all the way to St. Marks and providing over twenty-two miles of relatively uninterrupted travel.

The main trailhead is located on Woodville Highway just south of Capital Circle/US 319 and approximately five miles south of the Capitol Building. Other primary access points include J. Lewis Hall Park in Woodville 3 miles south of Capital Circle and the Wakulla Station Trailhead 9 miles south of Capital Circle. The portion of the trail north of the main trailhead is 12’ wide, maintained by the City of Tallahassee, and runs north for 4.8 miles. The portion of the trail extending south to St. Marks is currently 8’ wide (soon to be widened to 12’ wide), maintained by the State of Florida, and runs south for 15.7 miles. The St. Marks Trail is currently home to two Gulf Winds club races, the Tallahassee Marathon/Half-Marathon in early February and the Flash 12 K in mid-February, supports the annual “Run to Posey’s” on Christmas Eve, and has hosted a number of other races in past years.

Much of the St. Marks Trail travels along the edge of relatively quiet, rural portions of south Tallahassee and Wakulla County. In Tallahassee, it winds its way behind several southside residential communities before reaching Woodville Highway and, ultimately, the Apalachicola National Forest. South of town, it runs along the edge of the forest, through the town of Woodville, and then along an isolated, well-shaded and forested corridor to St. Marks. It might not hurt to run with a partner just for safety’s sake through some of the isolated regions north of St. Marks. It has relatively few traffic crossings over its entire length and is ideal for nearly any type of running activity or workout.

Paralleling the portion of the trail from the main trailhead south to St. Marks is an unpaved singletrack bridle path. My experience tells me that horse use of the trail is fairly limited and rare, so if you’re looking for an off-road alternative to the regular paved path, feel free to use the bridle path. Of course, be on the look out for any horses that happen to be on the trail at that time!

The St. Marks Trail also serves as the gateway to the Munson Hills off-road trails, a set of two singletrack trails – the Munson Hills Trail and new “Twilight Zone” extension – encompassing approximately 18.5 miles through the Apalachicola National Forest. The main trailhead for the Munson Hills Trail is 1.25 miles south of the main St. Marks Trail trailhead and features a water fountain and primitive restroom facilities. The “Twilight Zone” extension has its own trailhead behind the playground at J. Lewis Hall Park in Woodville, 2.5 miles south of the mail St. Marks Trail trailhead. Both trails traverse rolling, sandy terrain through pine forests, making them easy on the legs and a nice escape just south of town.

All in all, the St. Marks Trail is the gem of Tallahassee’s numerous paved trails and a fine path amongst all of the paved and unpaved trail in and around town. Explore it for yourself: just head to one of the trailheads, run for as long as you like, then turn around and head back to where you started. Your legs will be happy to blaze along the flat corridor, especially during the Marathon, but your mind will likely want to go a tad slower just to take everything in.

For additional information on the St. Marks Trail,  click here.

Tom Brown Park

Clark Evans, March 23, 2008

Tom Brown Park is the gateway to innumerable trails on the east side of Tallahassee, ranging from paved trails such as the Goose Pond Trail to unpaved paths such as the Fern, Lafayette Heritage, and Cadillac Trails. A collection of mountain bike and fitness paths within the park itself only add to the variety. As the gem of Tallahassee’s parks system, there’s not a whole lot that you can’t do at Tom Brown Park. Let’s focus on the running for now, however.

Tom Brown Park is located behind the Federal Correctional Institute along Capital Circle NE between Mahan Dr. and Apalachee Pkwy. To get there from downtown, take Park Ave. east from downtown past Capital Circle NE. The second light past Capital Circle NE is for Easterwood Dr. and Trojan Trail; take a left, turning onto Easterwood, and follow the road into the park. No admission fee is required. An ideal place to park is near the playground facility in the middle of the park, featuring ample facilities and connecting directly to the Goose Pond Trail. From here, you have your choice of any number of potential running paths.

Starting at the playground and heading west on the Goose Pond Trail, you quickly come upon the trailhead for the Lafayette Heritage and Cadillac Trails. Each of these trails runs for about two miles to Lafayette Heritage Trail Park in the Piney-Z subdivision, where they continue eastward for about a mile along the south shore of Lake Lafayette toward a crossing to the J.R. Alford Greenway. Each trail is well-shaded with rolling terrain and the view of the sunset on a crisp spring or fall evening along the eastern reaches of the Lafayette Heritage trail cannot be beat. You can access the three fitness paths through Tom Brown Park near this trailhead as well, offering 1-3 miles of additional trail running. Or, if you desire, keep heading west on the Goose Pond Trail. As you head toward its end at Weems Road, about a mile from the playground, you’ll find the Magnolia mountain bike trailhead on your left. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can also make a connection along the railroad corridor to the eastern end of the Fern Trail, a unique three mile inner-city trail.

If you head east on the Goose Pond Trail, you’ll intersect the fitness trails just past the dog park. About a half-mile from the playground area, the paved path ends at a pedestrian crossing over Park Ave. Continuing across the bridge, you can access Lincoln High School and its track for a track workout or you can hook a left and follow the path that parallels the road all the way to Apalachee Pkwy. if you so desire. If you’re looking for a hilly workout, I suggest taking the spur off of this paved path into either Piney-Z or The Reserve, climbing all the way as you do so. These routes aren’t quite as shaded as the trails to the west, particularly if you head through Piney-Z, but still do offer the occasional tree to block the sun.

In all, it’s quite easy to get a short run of just a few miles or a long run of 20+ miles by starting in Tom Brown Park and connecting through one or more of the available trails. There’s something to suit just about every runner, jogger, or biker, whether that be a track, hills, or true trail running. Top that off with some surrounding activity and the nature of the trails making it somewhat tough to get lost and you’ve got a winner.