Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hemlock Bluffs Single Track

Hemlock Bluffs is a nature preserve in Cary, NC with about 3 miles of single track. The trail is very soft and most of it is covered in mulch. Oak trees are abundant, but I didn't feel any acorns on the trail probably because they sink into the soft train underfoot. The trails is minimally rooty, and I felt no rocks under leaves.

The biggest issue was actually the mulch. It is fairly coarse and contains up to half-inch wide pieces that dig into your mid foot as you try to land on the front of the foot. As the fore foot makes contact with the ground the arch of the foot is a loaded spring ready to release the energy into forward momentum. the arch also lacks the cushioning that the ball, the side and the heel develop through barefoot running. So, as the arch lands across a half inch stick, there's nothing to spread the contact and, frankly, sometimes it hurts.
Hemlock Bluffs Mulch
That said, I think the trail is very runnable in bare feet. Maybe the mid foot can become conditioned to this kind of landing.
Hemlock Bluffs Trail Map
Swift Creek Loop Trail

The trails starts off with a fairly long set of steps, but is otherwise flat. A third of the trail is run on a raised wooden walkway that was a tad slippery even dry. It provided a good surface to check the running form for pushing off with your feet: push off and your foot slips.

Swift Creek Loop Trail Raised Walkway
Chestnut Oak Loop Trail
A third of this trail is covered in mulch and the rest of was covered by recently fallen leaves.

The trail is not flat, but hills are short, and at 1.2 miles, it is quick and enjoyable.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cary Soccer Park Trail in Pictures

Cary Soccer Park's cross country trail is still the best trail I found to run barefoot around Cary. I initially reviewed it a couple of weeks ago, but decided to update that post with pictures. Here's the trail map from the original review. Start at the blue marker, loop around the blue loop, come back to the grass field and run around the park finishing at the yellow marker for a 3-mile run.

Cary Soccer Park Cross Country Trail Map
The Start. The sign is small. Large electrical transformers are much easier to spot.

Looking down the grass field from the start.

Trail surface is pretty much packed dust...

... with small sections of gravel that can be avoided easily.

Coming back onto the grass field after the short 1-mile loop and also when closing in on the finish. The start is off in the distance on the left. The trail on the left is leads from the start into the woods. The white line along the right side of the field marks the trail.

After the field the trail crosses the road and hangs a left around the parking lot. Look on the right side of the fence. The trail is mostly grass with gravel and sand sections.

Past the parking lot the trail enters the woods once again with a couple of short hills and lose gravel sections.

Near the parking lot: