Monday, February 9, 2009

Proctor Road

If you were in Tallahassee not too many decades ago, you would remember Proctor Road as an undulating strip of red clay about three miles long, running roughly north-south from Centerville Road to the intersection of Roberts Road and Crump Road. Since then, of course, the clay has vanished under a layer of blacktop. The canopy of live oaks is still there, as are some of the old homesteads and small churches, but it's not quite the same.

Since the sad day the Proctor Road clay disappeared under the pavement, Leon County has opened the Proctor Road extension north of Centerville Road. This extension had existed some time before as a private road, but for some years now it has been public, stretching 3.9 miles from Thomasville Road (US 319) to Centerville Road. Like one of the antique clay roads in the area, it's unpaved, climbs and descends more than a few hills, and passes through some beautiful country. Unlike the old roads, it isn't cut as deeply into the hills, and it's very wide--so wide that there isn't much of a canopy, although a few large live oaks do their best to cover the road in a spot or two. Much of the road passes through pinelands, and pines do a poor job at best of providing shade to a wide road. You can also see swamps and ponds along the length of the road, hunting land at the Thomasville Road end and newer sub-divisions near the south end. You can also see quite a variety of old automobile tires, dropped in the woods in spite of common decency and the abundant "NO DUMPING" signs.

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The Proctor Road extension is suitable for running, walking, or riding a fat-tire bicycle. For the latter, you could even get to Proctor Road using the nice bike lane along Thomasville Road. If you're driving, the Thomasville Road end is also your best bet because you can park on the shoulder of the highway. As mentioned earlier, the Proctor Road extension is only 3.9 miles, which means a round trip of 7.8 miles for runners and walkers. However, you can lengthen that a bit--about 1.5 miles from the Thomasville Road end, Grenville Road intersects Proctor Road to the south, and the northernmost half-mile of Grenville is unpaved, giving you another out-and-back mile of red clay (with a bonus hill). Do Grenville once on the way out to make an 8.8-mile run, or a second time on the way back to make a 9.8-mile run. But do it soon--I don't expect this one to stay unpaved too many more years.