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.

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