Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crabtree Lake Trail Revisited

Back in October I wrote about short section of The Lake Trail around Lake Crabree in Morrisville and pretty much decided to save it for minimalist shoe running when the winter finally arrives. It must be all the Trail Runner archives I've been reading that got me to throw caution to the wind and run the whole 6 (or so) miles of the trail barefoot at whatever cost. So, on a sunny Saturday morning I did just that:
Map and Elevation Profile of The Lake Trail around Lake Crabtree in Morrisville, NC
This is not a trail for a barefoot running novice. Going counterclockwise from the first parking lot from the entrance, the first 2-2.5 miles are OK. The trail turns very rooty shortly after leaving Evans Road. At mile 3 it turns rocky in addition to rooty, and, excluding the paved greenway section after mile 4, stays that way to the end. I will definitely need more barefoot miles under my belt and a good rest before attempting this trail again.

See the original Lake Trail review for different options. For this particular run, I came in through the Aviation Parkway entrance and parked in the first lot on the right. It hasn't rained for several days prior to this run, so I wasn't worried about the trail gates being closed at mile 5 at Old Reedy Creek Road access.

Miles 0-2: 
The start is across the grassy field from the parking lot. There's a large sign and a clearing in the tall grass:
The Lake Trail: Start
After the soggy grassy section the trail turns into the woods for a short little section and emerges next to the Aviation Parkway. I didn't see any broken glass on the trail, but always pay extra attention when running barefoot next to busy roads. After Aviation Parkway the trail turns back into the woods and emerges next to Evans road.

Miles 2-3
After Evans Road the trail heads back into the woods. In the woods the trail turns rooty with many roots running perpendicular to the trail. Many of these are covered by recently fallen leaves and when stepped on tend to dig into the arches. It gets pretty painful after several of such steps as the arches get bruised.
The Lake Trail around Lake Crabtree Covered with Leaves
Miles 3-4
Somewhere around mile 3 more rocks start appearing on the trail. Normally rocks aren't an issue, but after having the arches tenderized by the roots, they start to hurt.
Rocks Along the Lake Trail around Lake Crabtree
Miles 4-5
Around mile 4 the trail dumps you out onto the Black Creek Greenway, which runs from West Dynasty Road up to the Old Reedy Creek entrance to the Lake Crabtree Park.

Mile 6
After the greenway the trail runs along Crabtree mountain biking trails, which tend to have sharp granite gravel sticking out of the packed dirt of the singletrack. After 5 miles of fairly difficult trail, the gravel doesn't feel too good.

Coming closer to the parking lot and finishing the run, a barefooter is rewarded with a short section of sandy beach and a finishing run across the field back to the parking lot.
Lake Crabtree Sandy Beach, Volleyball Court and Grassy Field.