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 Tallahasseeís parks system, thereís not a whole lot that you canít do at Tom Brown Park. Letís 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, youíll find the Magnolia mountain bike trailhead on your left. If thatís 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, youíll 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 youíre 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 arenít 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, itís 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. Thereís 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 youíve got a winner.