Taking the Road…er Trail…Less Traveled

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Earlier this fall a new local recreational trail, the Musser Gap Greenway, was opened to connect downtown to nearby Rothrock State Forest. With the opening, you can now travel from downtown to the state forest almost exclusively via bike path. Personally it would be a bit of a trek walking or running, but probably not via bike.

Anyway, since the new section of the path is similar to a rail trail, it’s great for running. I thought it would be fun to park at the nearby YMCA and head on a run on the new section and then continue into a trail run into Rothrock. The total length would be about 8 miles.

Two friends decided to join me this past Sunday. It was flurrying, windy and cold, but it wasn’t long before we warmed up. The greenway cuts between farm fields before heading downhill between two farmsteads where you have to cross a two-lane road to head into Rothrock.

Once we crossed we began the trek into the woods, which at first is a nice uphill.

Regan and Ivy joined me on the run. Here we are heading into the state forest.

Regan and Ivy joined me on the run. Here we are heading into Rothrock.

This section was some gravel and some dirt, but is wide enough for a vehicle. The further we went in the more evident it was that some work was being done in the area.

I didn’t have a map with me, but based on the map I had looked at multiple times before heading out there should have only been one trail to follow. That wasn’t quite the case. When we got to the stream, we realized we had to make a choice.

Pretty mountain stream with a ton of moss.

Pretty mountain stream with a ton of moss.

This bridge is new and I'm not quite sure it's done. You can also cross the stream via rocks, but this was obviously more fun.

This bridge is new and I’m not quite sure it’s done. You can also cross the stream via rocks, but this was obviously more fun.

One trail that looked newly cleared had the typical markers of the  trails in the area, paint marks on the trees. The other option did not, so we decided to take the “more legit looking” trail, or as I so aptly titled this post, “The road…er trail…less traveled.” It was very quiet and very pretty, but a tad steep so we ended up switching to a hike.

Eventually the path came to a dead end, but we weren’t near the ridge at all, which tipped me off to the fact that maybe we should’ve picked the other trail. Since we’d gone about 3.2 miles we decided to head back down and finish our run. We totaled about 6.5 miles in just over an hour. Not so bad considering we had to do some hiking.

On the way back I stopped as we headed up into the farm fields to take a photo.

The view looking toward the state forest from the new recreational path.

The view looking toward the Rothrock from Musser Gap Greenway.

Not too shabby, even with all the leaves gone from the trees.

Once I got home, I went back and looked at the map. The trail we took was not on the map just as I had thought, so I’m thinking that it really is brand new and has not been added yet. At least we know for next time.

I’m definitely hoping to get into more trail running. The trails around here can be pretty technical with all of the rocks, but it was always fun the few times I’ve gone. It’s hunting season for a variety of game so the best day to go is really on Sundays. We’ll probably stick to that in the coming months. I also always enjoy going when it has snowed.

There are several trail races in the area that I’m looking into adding to my race docket. I’ve done a couple of the shorter ones, but we have some long ones including the Hyner View Trail Challenge, the Mega Transect, The Dam Half and Full, and more. We’ll see what I can prepare myself for in the coming months.

Question: What’s your preferred surface for running? Have you ever tried trail running?

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