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