Wednesday, February 25, 2009

25 February 2009 Tallahassee 100-Mile Race Calendar

This is the Tallahassee vicinity road-race schedule for 25 February 2009. If that's more than a week ago, the latest schedule is always available via this link:


This is a listing of upcoming races within 100 miles of Tallahassee, Florida, roughly the area in the map below. If a race isn't listed, I probably haven't heard of it, so post a comment and let me know about it.

Map

Here are some upcoming races within 100 miles of Tallahassee, Florida. If a race isn't listed, I probably haven't heard of it, so post a comment and let me know about it.

28 FEBRUARY 2009
  • 2nd Annual Syrup City 5K & one-mile fun run. 9:00 am ET 5K / 10:00 am ET one mile. Cairo Grady County Chamber of Commerce, 961 North Broad Street, Cairo, GA 39828. USATF certified course GA07027WC. Registration form and flyer. Online registration at active.com.
  • 7th Annual Holy Nativity Episcopal School 5 km run and one-mile fun run. 8:00am CT. Holy Nativity Episcopal School upper campus, 205 Hamilton Avenue, Panama City, FL 32401. 850-747-0060.
7 MARCH 2009
  • Thomasville Road Baptist Church 5K, 10K & 1 Mile Fun Run. 8:00am ET one mile / 8:30am ET 5 km and 10 km. Thomasville Road Baptist Church, 3131 Thomasville Road, Tallahassee, FL 32309. Event web site. Online registration at active.com.
  • Snickers® Marathon® Energy Bar Marathon, Half Marathon, and one-mile fun run. 7:00am ET. Veteran's Park, Front Street, Albany, GA. Event web site. Online registration at active.com. Registration form and flyer. USATF certified course GA07003WC (Marathon), GA07002WC (half-Marathon).
  • Shamrock Shuffle 5K. 8:00 am ET. Valdosta State University Recreation Center, 1300 Sustella Avenue, Valdosta, GA 31698. 229-333-5674 or jowright@valdosta.edu.
14 MARCH 2009
  • 31st Annual Winston Howell 10,000 Meter Road Race. 9:00 am CT. National Guard Armory, Highway 52 and 167, Hartford, AL 36344. USATF certified course #AL96005JD. Event web site. Registration form and flyer.
  • Azalea 5K & One-Mile Fun Run/Walk. 8:00am ET fun run / 8:30am ET 5K. VSU Recreation Center, 1500 Sustella Ave, Valdosta, GA 31698. Event web site. Registration form and flyer.
  • Southern Oaks 5K & one mile. 8:00 am ET one mile / 8:30 am ET 5K. Southern Oaks Drive, Tallahassee, FL.
21 MARCH 2009
  • Student Dietetic Association National Nutrition Month 5K. 10:00 am ET. Woodward Avenue Statue, Florida State University, North Woodward Avenue, Tallahassee, FL 32304 (about 0.2 miles south of West Tennessee Street (US 90)). Registration form and flyer.
  • SouthWoodstock 5K & one mile. 4:30 pm ET one mile / 5:00 pm ET 5K. Terrebonne Drive and Grove Park Drive, Tallahassee, FL. Race web site. Registration form and flyer. Online registration at active.com.
  • Wild Chicken Run 5K and one mile. 8:00 am ET 5K / 8:30 am ET one mile. South Main Street and West Magnolia Street, Fitzgerald, GA 31750. Registration form and flyer.
  • Torreya State Park 5K. 9:00 am ET. Torreya State Park, 2576 NW Torreya Park Road, Bristol, FL 32321. Susan Chafin (850) 643-2415. Online registration at active.com.
  • Leprechaun Chase 5K Trail Run. 9:00 am CT. Westgate Park, 801 Recreation Road, Dothan, AL 36303. Race web page.
  • Pilot Fun Run for Brain-Related Disorders 5K and one mile. 7:00 am CT. Frank Brown Park, 16200 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, FL 32407. Online registration at active.com.
  • Kiwanis Club Annual 5K and one mile. 8:30 am ET 5K / 8:40 am ET one mile. Memorial Stadium, Massee Post Road, Adel, Georgia 31620. Registration form and flyer.
22 MARCH 2009
  • Race Judicata 5K. 8:00am ET. Florida State University College of Law, 425 W. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301. USATF certified course FL02044DL. Registration form and flyer.
28 MARCH 2009
  • 34th Annual Springtime 10K, Publix 5K & Fun Station 1-Miler. 8:00am ET. Leon County Courthouse, 301 S Monroe St, Tallahassee, FL 32301. Event web site. Online registration at active.com. USATF certified course FL96048DL (10 km).
  • 2nd Annual A.R. Inspirational 5K. 9:00 am ET. Bainbridge High School, 1301 E College Street, Bainbridge, GA 39819. Mandi O'Mara 229-400-3750 or omara@dcboe.com
4 APRIL 2009
  • Draggin’ Tail Ultra Trail Challenge 25K / 50K. 8:30 am ET. Torreya State Park, 2576 NW Torreya Park Road, Bristol, FL 32321. Registration form and flyer.
  • 5-A-Day 5K Trail Run. 8:00 am CT. Westgate Park, 801 Recreation Road, Dothan, AL 36303. Event web page.
11 APRIL 2009
  • 35th Annual Palace Saloon 5 km. 8:00am ET. James Messer Fields Park, Jackson Bluff Road and Dupree Street, Tallahassee, FL 32304. USATF certified course FL99027DL. Registration form and flyer. Online registration at active.com.
18 APRIL 2009
  • Autism Research 5K and one mile. 8:00 am ET 5K / 9:00 am ET one mile. Southwood Commerce Center, Merchant's Row Blvd at Four Oaks Blvd, Tallahassee, FL. veronica.jones@med.fsu.edu
  • Mayhaw Festival 5K. 8:30 am ET. Colquitt, GA.
  • Festival on the Rivers 5 Mile. 7:30 am CT. Geneva High School, 505 Panther Dr, Geneva, AL 36340. Event web page.
25 APRIL 2009
  • 32nd Annual Rose City Run 10K and one mile kids' run. 8:00 am ET 10K / 9:30 am ET one mile. North Broad Street and Monroe Street, Thomsaville, GA. USATF certified course GA92011WN (10K). Event web site.
2 MAY 2009
  • 24th Annual Race Judicata 5K. 8:00 am CT. Bay County Courthouse, 300 East 4th Street, Panama City, FL 32401. Online registration at active.com.
8 MAY 2009
  • River Town Days 5K. 8:00 am ET. Earle May Boat Basin, Bainbridge, GA 39819.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eastern Shore Reconnaissance

I was in Daphne, Alabama on 20 February 2009. I know that the oldest Mardi Gras in the United States was going on across the bay in Mobile, Alabama, but that was entirely coincidence. I had other reasons for being there. Honest.

That morning I left the hotel to take a walk around. Not a hundred yards away, the sidewalk ran across a pleasant wooden bridge, and across the street there was a wooden boardwalk with no end in sight. I paused on the little bridge to watch the turtles swimming in D'Olive Creek, and spotted the biggest alligator in Daphne. I went back to the hotel to get Judi. Quite accidentally I had stumbled into "Gator Alley," more formally known as D'Olive Boardwalk Park.

We started walking north from a trailhead parking area on the west side of North Main Street. The trail here is just a wide, concrete sidewalk, but it becomes a wooden boardwalk as you cross D'Olive Creek. Once across the creek, the boardwalk turns west to pass under the Eastern Shore Parkway (aka US 98). Just in case there are no real alligators around, three statues of the reptiles have been placed here on the grass along the trail. After you've gone under the highway, the trail turns north and leaves the boardwalk to meander on a concrete path through a lightly-wooded grassy area. The trees disappear, and you are about to go under Interstate 10. I'm not sure how anyone was ever able to jump through all the hoops to put a non-motorized path across an interstate highway right-of-way, but I'm not complaining. Continuing north along the water, you cross under an exit ramp, the east-bound lanes, and then the west-bound lanes of Interstate 10.

Immediately upon reaching the north side of Interstate 10, the trail becomes a board ramp, with wooden "switchbacks" taking you up to the level of the superhighway. Here you're disconcertingly close to cars and trucks going 70 - 80 mph. You're probably making the drivers nervous, too. The ramp dumps you onto another concrete path that winds up a grassy slope to Battleship Parkway. And that's it for Gator Alley.

However, the trail gives every appearance of crossing the Parkway, and then continuing east as a sidewalk to the Old Spanish Trail (US 90), where it turns north as a sidewalk heading uphill toward Spanish Fort. We continued to follow it to a visitor center at the top of the hill. I inquired how far the trail continued.

"Not very far," was the answer.

I went out for a run later that day, planning on finding out how far was "not very far." "Not very far" turned out to be about half a mile north to where the trail disappeared in a shopping center parking lot at the corner of Old Spanish Trail and Spanish Fort Boulevard, and then another few hundred yards east after the trail reappeared outside the parking lot before petering out along Spanish Fort Boulevard.

Later on, I learned that I had been on part of the Eastern Shore Trail. In spite of the impressive name, outside of Gator Alley, it's just a sidewalk. A wide sidewalk, but a sidewalk. Along Old Spanish Trail it wasn't even particularly good for cycling because of the sharp jerks the route made to dodge around utility poles. I happened to see some other portions of the Eastern Shore Trail during the weekend, and they were also sidewalks. Some parts of the trail were less than sidewalks. "The part of the route to the USS Alabama is on the shoulder of the highway," reads one description of the trail. Now, one thing that Fairhope, Daphne, and Spanish Fort all desperately need is sidewalks. If calling their sidewalks the "Eastern Shore Trail" is what it takes to get them built, fine. But it's being over-sold to tourists with descriptions like this:

"Cycle along the 24-mile Eastern Shore Trail, a pedestrian/cycle path from the USS Alabama Battleship Park in Mobile to the Grand Hotel in Point Clear and beyond. Route passes through bayside communities of Daphne and Fairhope."

Gator Alley is a nice place to take a short stroll if you're staying near Exit 35 on Interstate 10 in Alabama. If you're looking for something a bit longer in the area, you might want to check out the 5 Rivers Center, Meaher State Park, or Historic Blakely State Park.

Links:

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Pinellas Trail has the best map ever!

The Pinellas Trail is a 34-mile long rail trail that stretches from downtown St. Petersburg at the south end of Pinellas County to Tarpon Springs at the north end. I've never ridden the trail, but I'm looking forward to doing is some day soon. For one thing, it has the best map.

Some of the rail-trail maps that I've run across are almost rudimentary--a schematic of the route showing major highways. Others at least include the trail head parking areas along the trail. Better still are the maps that also show the mile marks and at least the major roads crossing or approaching the trail.

The Pinellas Trail map is really more of a guidebook. I bought a similar guidebook for north Georgia's Silver Comet Trail, but the the Pinellas Trail guide is much more detailed. There are twenty pages, each of which covers less than two miles of trail. A portion of each page is a map, showing the trail, spur trails, every street in the vicinity, parks, water sources, restrooms, restaurants, bike shops, coffee shops, and just about anything else that might be remotely useful while traveling on the trail. The remainder of the page is devoted to descriptions of the resources on that page.

Now, this isn't so useful for the competitive cyclist crouched atop a carbon-fibre dragonfly while he flashes from one end of the trail to another and back again without a pause, but he isn't the typical trail user anyway. The guide makes more sense for the casual cyclists out for a bit of active recreation. Want to pedal a few miles up the trail, stop for lunch, then ride back? You can plan it with the guide. Out for a walk on the trail and want to stop for coffee? Check the guide. Trail users from the local area may already know some of these things, but tourists not at all. The guide makes the trail more tourist-friendly, while letting them know where they can spend money along the trail.

Now, you can also do this with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's interactive maps at TrailLink.com and Google, but with a printed map or guidebook the work is already done for you and you don't have to haul around a computer or wireless device. There is a problem with keeping a guidebook up to date (my ride on the Pinellas Trail might end up being more interesting than I'd like).

Close to home (i.e., my home), the St. Marks Trail could benefit from such a guide. For instance, there are places to buy a drink that you can't see from the trail, but are only a block or two away. Weekend cyclists would like to know this, and business owners would like them to know. The guidebook would make both groups happy. Perhaps both groups would support a guidebook through sales and advertising, making the author of a guidebook happy as well.

Meanwhile, I'm going to look at my maps of the Pinellas Trail and plan a ride.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

19 February 2009 Tallahassee 100-Mile Race Calendar

This is the Tallahassee vicinity road-race schedule for 19 February 2009. If that's more than a week ago, the latest schedule is always available via this link:


This is a listing of upcoming races within 100 miles of Tallahassee, Florida, roughly the area in the map below. If a race isn't listed, I probably haven't heard of it, so post a comment and let me know about it.MapHere are some upcoming races within 100 miles of Tallahassee, Florida. If a race isn't listed, I probably haven't heard of it, so post a comment and let me know about it.

21 FEBRUARY 2009
  • Flash 12 km / 6 km. 8:30am ET. J Lewis Hall Park, 7575 Old Woodville Road, Woodville, FL 32305. Registration form and flyer.
  • ZTA Race to Live 5K & one-mile fun run. 9:30 am ET one mile / 10:00 am ET 5K. ZTA House, 514 West College Avenue, Tallahassee, FL 32301. Registration form and flyer.
  • St. Andrew's Mardi Gras 5 km Run/Walk. 8:00 am CT. Oaks along the Bay Park, 10th Street and Beck Ave, Panama City, FL 32402. Online registration at active.com.
  • Kickin’ Cavalier 5K and one mile. 4:00 pm ET one mile / 4:30 pm ET 5K. Darton College Tennis Complex, Darton College, 2400 Gillionville Rd, Albany, GA 31707. Registration form and flyer.
28 FEBRUARY 2009
  • 2nd Annual Syrup City 5K & one-mile fun run. 9:00 am ET 5K / 10:00 am ET one mile. Cairo Grady County Chamber of Commerce, 961 North Broad Street, Cairo, GA 39828. USATF certified course GA07027WC. Registration form and flyer. Online registration at active.com.
  • 7th Annual Holy Nativity Episcopal School 5 km run and one-mile fun run. 8:00am CT. Holy Nativity Episcopal School upper campus, 205 Hamilton Avenue, Panama City, FL 32401. 850-747-0060.
7 MARCH 2009
  • Thomasville Road Baptist Church 5K, 10K & 1 Mile Fun Run. 8:00am ET one mile / 8:30am ET 5 km and 10 km. Thomasville Road Baptist Church, 3131 Thomasville Road, Tallahassee, FL 32309. Event web site. Online registration at active.com.
  • Snickers® Marathon® Energy Bar Marathon, Half Marathon, and one-mile fun run. 7:00am ET. Veteran's Park, Front Street, Albany, GA. Event web site. Online registration at active.com. Registration form and flyer. USATF certified course GA07003WC (Marathon), GA07002WC (half-Marathon).
  • Shamrock Shuffle 5K. 8:00 am ET. Valdosta State University Recreation Center, 1300 Sustella Avenue, Valdosta, GA 31698. 229-333-5674 or jowright@valdosta.edu.
14 MARCH 2009
  • 31st Annual Winston Howell 10,000 Meter Road Race. 9:00 am CT. National Guard Armory, Highway 52 and 167, Hartford, AL 36344. USATF certified course #AL96005JD. Event web site. Registration form and flyer.
  • Azalea 5K & One-Mile Fun Run/Walk. 8:00am ET fun run / 8:30am ET 5K. VSU Recreation Center, 1500 Sustella Ave, Valdosta, GA 31698. Event web site. Registration form and flyer.
  • Southern Oaks 5K & one mile. 8:00 am ET one mile / 8:30 am ET 5K. Southern Oaks Drive, Tallahassee, FL.
21 MARCH 2009
  • Student Dietetic Association National Nutrition Month 5K. 10:00 am ET. Woodward Avenue Statue, Florida State University, North Woodward Avenue, Tallahassee, FL 32304 (about 0.2 miles south of West Tennessee Street (US 90)). Registration form and flyer.
  • SouthWoodstock 5K & one mile. 4:30 pm ET one mile / 5:00 pm ET 5K. Terrebonne Drive and Grove Park Drive, Tallahassee, FL. Race web site. Registration form and flyer. Online registration at active.com.
  • Wild Chicken Run 5K and one mile. 8:00 am ET 5K / 8:30 am ET one mile. South Main Street and West Magnolia Street, Fitzgerald, GA 31750. Registration form and flyer.
  • Torreya State Park 5K. 9:00 am ET. Torreya State Park, 2576 NW Torreya Park Road, Bristol, FL 32321. Susan Chafin (850) 643-2415. Online registration at active.com.
  • Leprechaun Chase 5K Trail Run. 9:00 am CT. Westgate Park, 801 Recreation Road, Dothan, AL 36303. Race web page.
  • Pilot Fun Run for Brain-Related Disorders 5K and one mile. 7:00 am CT. Frank Brown Park, 16200 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, FL 32407. Online registration at active.com.
  • Kiwanis Club Annual 5K and one mile. 8:30 am ET 5K / 8:40 am ET one mile. Memorial Stadium, Massee Post Road, Adel, Georgia 31620. Registration form and flyer.
22 MARCH 2009
  • Race Judicata 5K. 8:00am ET. Florida State University College of Law, 425 W. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301. USATF certified course FL02044DL. Registration form and flyer.
28 MARCH 2009
  • 34th Annual Springtime 10K, Publix 5K & Fun Station 1-Miler. 8:00am ET. Leon County Courthouse, 301 S Monroe St, Tallahassee, FL 32301. Event web site. Online registration at active.com. USATF certified course FL96048DL (10 km).
4 APRIL 2009
  • Draggin’ Tail Ultra Trail Challenge 25K / 50K. 8:30 am ET. Torreya State Park, 2576 NW Torreya Park Road, Bristol, FL 32321. Registration form and flyer.
  • 5-A-Day 5K Trail Run. 8:00 am CT. Westgate Park, 801 Recreation Road, Dothan, AL 36303. Event web page.
11 APRIL 2009
  • 35th Annual Palace Saloon 5 km. 8:00am ET. James Messer Fields Park, Jackson Bluff Road and Dupree Street, Tallahassee, FL 32304. USATF certified course FL99027DL. Registration form and flyer. Online registration at active.com.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Capital Circle Southeast, Tallahassee, Florida

First, the Tallahassee-Saint Marks Historic Railroad State Trail was paved from US 319 south to the Saint Marks River. Then, the city of Tallahassee extended the trail north to Gamble Street.

Now it's growing a branch.

If you look at the work being done to widen Capital Circle Southeast (US 319) between the Woodville Highway and Tram Road, you'll notice a paved asphalt trail to the south of the road. In the description of the project, this is referred to as "a wide meandering sidewalk." It looks like a trail to me.

PillarSuch a trail was already added to Capital Circle Southeast between Hill Lane and Tram Road when that portion of the highway was widened. Some of it, especially at the north end, is not very congenial, narrow and hugging the side of US 319. Other portions are wide but out in the open, waiting for recently-planted landscaping to provide some shade in a few decades. At the south end, near the satellite state office complex in Southwood, the trail winds under patriarch live oaks and is set so far back from the highway that you can almost forget the traffic. There are benches along the way, as well as a couple of attractive but nearly useless pillars that remind you that you're on Capital Circle Southeast. Was there ever any danger of forgetting?

TrailThe new stretch of trail, by extending to the Woodville Highway, will effectively connect the existing portion of trail to the Saint Marks Trail. From Hill Lane to the St Marks Trail is about five miles, so when that part of the Capital Circle Southeast trail is done, a ride or walk or run on the St Marks Trail can start up to five miles closer to home for folks on that side of town. None of the trail between Tram Road and Woodville Highway looks like it will be hugging the curb, but it also looks like none of it is going be shaded by a canopy of oak boughs, either. The project site indicates that work on the road is scheduled to be finished in early 2010. Projects run behind schedule, but it's also possible that the trail may be done before the rest of the highway. Much of it looks very close to being done right now.

If you want to dream about the future, widening of Capital Circle from the Woodville Highway to the Crawfordville Highway is planned, just not funded or scheduled. The plans include a "10-foot meandering sidewalk," so figure that we'll get another 1.3-mile branch off of the Saint Marks Trail. This would come close to connecting with the proposed Lake Munson Trail, which would in turn connect with the proposed GF&A trail as well as the existing Lake Henrietta Trail. The GF&A Trail will in turn connect with the (allegedly under construction) Ochlockonee Bay Trail, which no doubt will have links to some other chimerical trails.

Admittedly, you probably won't be following trails from Tallahassee to Panama City next week. But in the near future we'll have a Southwood to Saint Marks connection.

Links:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stadium Drive Bike Trail, Tallahassee, Florida

Stadium Drive TrailThe second rail-trail in the Tallahassee area was the Stadium Drive Bike Trail which runs from the intersection of West Pensacola Street and Stadium Drive near the Florida State University campus to a point on Ocala Road just south of West Tennessee Street (US 90). The trail follows part of an old rail route to Bainbridge, Georgia which was later re-routed to south of town. Portions of the railroad continued to be used over the years for various reasons, such as to deliver coal to the FSU heating plant and to service a cement factory. Over the years, though, more and more of the track was removed and by the 1990s it was abandoned entirely. During that same decade it became a rail trail.

In the first years after the pavement was laid down not much was done in the way of maintenance. Brush grew up on either side of the trail turning it into a tunnel through the jungle. This created safety issues. Among FSU students, the proverbial height of foolishness was taking the trail at night.

Emergency call boxA few years ago, though, the city of Tallahassee came through and cleared the brush around the trail, eliminating cover for potential ambushers. Not coincidentally this happened just before college football season--thousands of fans use the trail to reach FSU's Doak Campbell Stadium on game day. The following year, lighting and emergency call boxes were added to the trail. The lighting is better than on most streets and the call boxes are spaced closely enough that you are never more than 200 feet from a call box (and often much closer, because the call boxes are not spaced evenly). A few places have been patched where cracks in the pavement threatened to swallow bicycle tires, but the whole trail really needs to be re-paved. Football season is still months away, so maybe the city will get around to re-paving later this year.

The north end of the trail is on the east side of Ocala Road between two holding ponds, just south of the intersection of Ocala Road and West Tennessee Street (US 90). From here it climbs a small rise; this peaks quickly and most of the rest of the trail slopes downward to the FSU campus as you come off the high ground near San Luis Ridge. To the right is the first of two side-trails into Heritage Grove; other apartment complexes along the route have also hooked into the trail. Just past a quarter mile, a concrete walk twins off to parallel the trail. For the next 0.37 miles the trail is a concrete walkway on the left and an asphalt bike path on the right.

At 0.44 miles the trail crosses Chapel Drive. After crossing Chapel, the land to the right of the trail is mostly residential, with apartments and scholarship houses on the left side. Through the trees on the left you can catch your first glimpses of the FSU campus, making out the medical school and the soccer stadium. On a clear day (and most days in Tallahassee are clear) you can spot buildings downtown, including the state capitol.

At 0.87 miles the trail arrives at a monster tunnel under Stadium Drive, wide enough for a two-lane highway. A smaller tunnel goes south under Pensacola Street. The large tunnel runs for 150 feet and comes out across a parking lot from the University Center, a complex of brick building wrapping around FSU's Doak Campbell Stadium. In plain view is an enormous stained-glass window depicting Coach Bobby Bowden, dwarfing the larger-than-life bronze statue of the coach below it. Looking past the stadium, in the distance you can see the State Capitol, the Department of Education building, and other large buildings downtown.

At this point it's hard to say what the trail does. It can't follow the old railroad right-of-way, because that was obliterated during stadium expansion in the 1990s. In fact, University Center Building C sits directly over a portion of the old rail route. Until a couple of years ago, an asphalt path stretched from the tunnel to Chieftain Way, but that was removed right before the 2007 football season. If the trail continues at this point, it follows the wide, concrete sidewalks past the tunnel. This is easy enough to follow to the one mile point in front of the entrance to the Al Dunlap Football Practice Fields. The issue is confused at this point by a lot of intersecting concrete walks, but if you follow the wide one that curves next to the baseball stadium and the ticket office, you'll go by the Heritage Fountain and arrive at the intersection of Chieftan Way, Champions Way, and Pensacola Street (1.18 miles). Cross Champions Way to reach the south side of Pensacola Street, where a wide sidewalk with a "center line" of painted tomahawks appears to be the trail. Follow the trail to the intersection of Varsity Drive and St Augustine St, where you'll be directed to cross Varsity Drive and then continue south to West Gaines Street. Once you cross Gaines Street, though, you have to admit that the trail is over. No sign says as much, but there just isn't any place to go. There are plans for a connector going from here to the north end of the St Marks Rail Trail on Gamble Street, but you can't ride a bike on a plan.

Even if you measure all the way from Ocala Road to Gaines Street, the the Stadium Drive Bike Trail is only about a mile-and-a-half long, so you aren't going to get a lot of people driving miles to use it for recreation. There isn't any parking for them anyway, except for some metered spots near the University Center. Local use is heavy, however. There are always people on the trail walking their dog, doing part of a run, out for a fitness walk, commuting to or from the FSU campus on foot or on bike, walking to the grocery store on Ocala Road, or biking to a restaurant on Tennessee Street. It's generally not crowded except on home game days for FSU during the college football season. If the connection to the St Marks Trail is ever made, the lack of a trailhead parking area could be a problem, but right now this workhorse of a trail does just fine without one.

-- Herb Wills

Links:



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.

View Larger Map

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.


 

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cave Creek Trail - Pinhoti Trail Loop

About a year ago we visited Cheaha State Park near Delta, Alabama. On the morning of the day that we left (6 January 2008), I decided that I wanted to get in one more hike before we left. I picked out a loop just outside the park--one that went south on the Cave Creek Trail, cut over to the Pinhoti Trail on a connector trail, and then returned north on the Pinhoti Trail. The whole loop is covered on Pinhoti Trail Map 4; I had bought a copy in the park.

The trailhead, just south of the park center on SR 281, would be hard to miss. A Talladega National Forest sign proclaims "Cheaha Trailhead" next to a large, paved parking lot. The trail itself starts under an elaborate stone-and-iron gateway, reminiscent of Amicalola Falls State Park's "Gateway to the Appalachian Trail" stone arch. Of course, neither gate reduces the number of fallen trees on the trail or fills your water bottle, but they're both pretty impressive.

Past the arch, I wanted to be sure that I got on the Cave Creek Trail rather than on the short approach trail to the Pinhoti. From the map it looked like I needed to keep to the left and hope for the best. It turned out to be easy to pick out the correct trail from the signs--including one sign that said it was three miles to the connector trail. I had estimated maybe two-and-a-half miles after looking at the map, and six miles for the entire loop. The loop is actually closer to seven miles and I was half an hour late getting back.

The Cave Creek Trail turned out to have a smooth, well-defined treadway. This was good, because there weren't any blazes marking the trail. Well, there were four orange marks that might have been blazes at one time or another, which isn't much for a three-miles stretch of trail. Somewhat more frequent were wooden signs marked "CAVE CREEK TRAIL." The trail wasn't exactly flat, but the inclines were neither long nor steep. Thirty minutes took me to a sign marking the boundary of the Cheaha Wilderness Area of the Talladega National Forest. Maybe half a mile later, the trail veered to the right while there was a rock outcrop to the left. The outcrop turned out to be worth checking out; it provided a great overlook--really, the only view from the Cave Creek Trail.

Somewhere beyond this you're supposed to cross Cave Creek, but I never saw it. I guess that it is very seasonal. I did see a lot of fire circles, and the trail got a bit wilder. At least one fallen tree needed to be removed from the trail along this stretch. At last I reached the intersection with the connector. To the left, the Cave Creek Trail continued south, but I went to the right, following the red blazes up the ridge and toward the Pinhoti Trail. Maybe a hundred yards took me to the top of the ridge, which was littered with boulders. After that it was a similar distance down the other side of the ridge to the Pinhoti Trail. The connector ended at the Pinhoti Trail, where I turned right to follow the blue blazes north back toward Cheaha State Park. A sign warned me that it was four miles back to the park. Unfortunately, I didn't know if this meant to the park boundary, to park headquarters, or to the Cheaha trailhead.

Something about the topography of the area made this side of the ridge much cooler. Because of this, there was ice along the trail the morning of my hike. Over the ages, similar ice had produced boulder fields. The ice was pretty, but I could have done without the boulder fields. The rugged going was especially discouraging after the relatively smooth Cave Creek Trail. Fortunately, the Pinhoti was only punctuated with boulder fields, not covered with them. If this stretch of Pinhoti was rougher than the Cave Creek Trail, it was also better blazed. There were at least two different shades of blue blazes, white turkey-foot blazes, and metal diamonds printed with the Pinhoti turkey foot. Sometimes two different kinds of blaze would be on the same tree.

There were more views, too. Occasionally you could catch a glimpse through the trees of rocky outcroppings near McDill Point. Which reminds me that there was a lot more uphill and downhill on the Pinhoti than there was on the Cave Creek Trail. The first such climb was up to McDill Point. A side trail at this point led a quarter mile to an overlook, but I was running short on time and forged on. I did pause for views from the main trail, including a few of Cheaha Mountain to the north and Cheaha Lake in the valley. A climb up and over Hernandez Peak followed McDill Point. The best overlooks on the trail came after Hernandez Peak. If you wanted to "cheat" and take a short walk to some great views, you could start at the Cheaha trailhead and head south on the Pinhoti trail till you saw these, then turn around and double back.

Because it was a short distance from here back to the trailhead. I made sure that I turned right onto the approach trail, but there was a sign so it wasn't hard to find. Despite my tardiness, Judi hadn't left for Tallahassee without me and was waiting with the car.

Herb...

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