- Aileen McKernan
3, 3+ Miles of Inspiring Runs in Charlottesville You Don’t Want to Miss this Season
Summer’s constant assurance of sun, heat, and its long hands for endless activity has set and new seasons are upon us. Our leaves peaked, turned, and are barely hanging on to the precipice of early winter woods. Our first frost, daylight savings time, and shadowy skies affirm a narrower margin to enjoy all the outdoors Charlottesville has to offer. Despite the temptation to hunker down next to the fire in flannels sipping hot chocolate or holiday seasoned lattes, there still are ample opportunities and amazing runs to capitalize on the beauty and bounty of this season. Try these three seasonal inspiring trail runs to spice up your running and late fall / early winter life before they turn into the thick of winter festivities where we’re all headed ready or not.
1. Walnut Creek/Orange Trail
When I think of the Walnut Creek Orange Trail, I think of pure running pleasure. It has beautiful rolling pathways, changes in scenery, places to break into a sprint, and challenging climbs for those gluts and lungs that you’re developing (if you enter the trail from near the park entrance). You can easily put in a 3 mile run if you park near the boat launch and make your way to the top of the Orange Trail either through the woods or on the paved road and descend down the trail, then you can easily log some more miles, 6+, by running a combo of any of the trails.
2. River View Park-Rivanna Trail to Old Mills Trail
A Charlottesville Classic. Start at River View Park, head to Free Bridge/250 and back for an easy but awe inspiring 3 mile jog next to the Rivanna River or to mix it up, cross Free Bridge and turn right before the Shell Station to hop on the Old Mills Trail which heads back along the opposite bank of the Rivanna River. It is so named for Thomas Jefferson’s father's Old Mill that still stands today (on private property, not accessible by the trail). Beautiful year round, but you can capture some great views of Monticello with the seasons changing. Run 3 miles easily or knock out 6+ with the addition of the Old Mill Trail.
3. Secluded Farm/Saunders-Monticello Trail
Secluded Farm is a hidden gem of a trail system that winds its way through donated and preserved meadows, woodlands, and mountains adjacent and connecting to the classic Saunders-Monticello Trail. My favorite run is both a rolling and challenging wooded ascent to some of the best vistas of Charlottesville that winds its way back down the Saunders-Monticello Trail. It's only about 3 miles, but I've easily added the miles to 6 or so by taking advantage of the wonderful trail system there.
Secluded Farm/Saunders-Monticello Trail, Trail Map
Remember this time of year to watch out for roots and rocks that are covered by the fallen leaves. If you’re not comfortable running in the woods alone, ask a buddy or feel free to email, message, or call me. I’m familiar with all the trails I’ve mentioned and am always happy to share the trails, my time, and expertise with fellow runners. Happy Trails to you this season and always.
PS Check out JointFit's FunFit5K coming up!