We’re a little behind on posting, but better late than never.
The Marquam Trail remains one of our favorite running trails in Portland. We used to run this weekly back in 2016 and our return has been no different. The trail is in the Marquam Nature Preserve in the Southwest hills of Portland, near OHSU. There are many trails in the preserve and it’s easy to add quite a few miles. We typically go out for 4-6 miles and a favorite route is up to Council Crest. There’s a large park and on a clear day you can see all of the mountains (Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helen’s, Mt. Adams). The trail is lightly trafficked and there are no bikes allowed, which makes it very enjoyable for pedestrians.
The Wildwood Trail is another trail we used to do back in 2016. While it’s not our favorite, it’s a great place to do some trail running in the city. It’s located in Forest Park with numerous points to get on and off the trail. Unlike the Marquam Trail, the Wildwood Trail is very heavily trafficked, especially along the Lower Macleay creek portion. After the Witch’s Castle (an old stone house) the crowds and kids thin out a bit making it more enjoyable, but there are still plenty of hikers and trail runners. Fun fact: the house was actually built in 1929 as a ranger station and restroom for hikers, but it was badly damaged by a storm in the 1960s and only the stone framework remains. The trail runs 27.9 miles point-to-point making it a great place to log some miles.
Pup Creek Falls is a 9.5 mile, lightly trafficked, out and back trail in Clackamas, OR. It’s in the Mt. Hood National Forest, and there are actually two ways to get to the falls – both along the Clackamas River Trail. The trail is pretty easy with only about 1,200 ft of elevation gain over the course. It runs along the Clackamas River and there are numerous creek crossings along the trail, which Snickers loved. At the turnaround point, you’re treated to a gorgeous 240 ft waterfall nestled in the cliffs, which is well worth the distance.
On a beautifully cool and sunny October morning, I ran the Elk-Kings 50K in the Tillamook State Forest in Oregon. I’ve never been much of runner, but I got it in my head last year that I wanted to push my body to see just how much it was capable of. I followed a 16 week training program and felt prepared both mentally and physically when October 13th rolled around.
The race started at the Jones Creek Day Use Area. The weather was crisp and cold and there was a gorgeous fog blanketing the forest. The trail was a double out and back; it went out for 4 miles along the Wilson River before turning back to hit the starting point again and head out in the other direction for 12 before turning back around and finishing at the Tillamook Forest Center. There was roughly 5,600 ft. of elevation gain by my Garmin (though the website says it was closer to 6,500 ft.) with the majority occurring in the second half of the course. (source)
The first 11 miles went by quickly. The trail was full of rolling hills and the energy was high. I rolled my ankle at mile 4 – the terrain was much softer than the rocky ground I trained on in Utah – but I was able to walk it out and keep moving forward. Though it was cold when the race started, the sun came out and I was able to shed my outer layer around mile 8. Matt and Snickers met me at the second aid station around mile 11 to give me a fresh water bladder and take my shirt.
The trail started to get much more difficult after that point. We crossed a bridge and climbed about 1,200 ft. in 3 miles. There was a steep downhill followed by some rollers and another climb before hitting the turn around point at mile 19. At this point my right IT band was getting inflamed from all of the downhill and my knee was in pain (you can see it on my face in the photos below). Luckily Matt came to my rescue with some Ibuprofen and some motivation and I was on my way again.
The return was HARD. The 1,200 ft. we climbed on the way out was compressed into 1.5 miles on the return and my glutes and hamstrings were on fire. I wanted to stop so many times, but literally pushed my legs up that hill. At this point I knew I was 5th place female – the lady in 4th place was behind me in the first half, but left the aid station before me – and thought if I pushed it I could potentially catch up to her. I was never so relieved as when the trail went down again to the aid station at mile 29. From that point, it was 2.75 miles of rolling hills to the end where Snickers and I crossed the bridge to the finish line.
Since I did pretty much all of my training solo, being in a race environment was both foreign and invigorating. I pushed myself harder than I probably would have otherwise. I finished 31.76 miles in 6:09:13 by the race time (5:59:44 moving time – I stopped with Matt and Snickers at a few aid stations), which was far better than I could have hoped. Going in I just wanted to finish under 7 hours with a goal in the back of mind of 6.5, so to finish just over 6 hours was amazing for me. I was 21st overall, 4th place female (out of 30), and 1st place female in my age group (the top 3 overall weren’t eligible for age group prizes, so I technically finished 3rd in my age group 🙂but I’ll take the win).
A big thanks to Matt and Snickers for being my cheerleaders and support staff all summer and to the Go Beyond Racing crew who put on an amazing race.
The Stansbury Crest Trail to Willow Lake is a 7 mile out and back hike in the Wasatch Cache National Forest. It is ~50 miles west of Salt Lake City and the last few miles are on an unpaved gravel road. The trail is lightly trafficked with 2,000 feet of gain over the course of 3.5 miles. At the end, you’re treated to lake surrounded by cliffs – it was muddy and a bit dried up when we went (end of a hot summer) but it’s likely full in the spring and early summer from snow runoff. We ran into some cattle towards the end enjoying the shade, but otherwise it was a nice, peaceful hike. The leaves were already starting to change colors in early September, which made for a picturesque drive through the canyon on the way out.
Sawmill Slough Preserve – Jacksonville, FL
Sawmill Slough Preserve is a preserve at the University of Northern Florida in Jacksonville, FL. I was able to get out there while I was at work and do about 5.5 miles on a few of the trails: the Gopher Tortoise Ridge Trail and the Goldenrod Trail. The trails are very flat and easy, and run through a tree grove. They’re not the best maintained – many of the bridges are missing boards – but it’s a good option close to the city. None of the trails are very long, but doing a few loops can get you some decent mileage.
Military Reserve is a 728 acre area of land in the foothills of Boise. It is filled with miles and miles of trails suitable for both running and biking. The trail system in Boise connects a couple of different nature areas including Military Reserve Park and Camels Back Reserve. Beth did a 15 mile run through the hills with Matt and Snickers joining for the last two one day and went back during the week for some shorter runs. The hills are rolling and sandy, making for a relatively easy run. The trails are not shaded so we wouldn’t recommend them for hiking (it’d be a relatively boring hike), but they were perfect for getting mileage on a cloudy fall day. There are so many trails it’s easy to do as much or little as you’d like. Snickers thoroughly enjoyed doing a couple of shorter runs through the area.
The Table Rock Trail is a 3.5 mile, heavily trafficked trail. The trail climbs approximately 890 ft. up to the mesa, and the uphill climb makes it moderate difficulty.The trail starts by an old penitentiary, which you get a nice view of as you climb the hill. With plenty of breaks to catch your breath, it’s a very doable trail offering a great view of the city and canyon from the top.
Upper Big Water is a trail in Millcreek Canyon – 20 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. Millcreek Canyon is a State Park in Salt Lake County that has miles of hiking and biking trails. On odd numbered days, no bikes are allowed on the trails and dogs can be off-leash. Snickers and I set out to do the Upper Big Water trail to Dog Lake and return on the Little Water trail. It was a 5 mile loop that wound through the pine forest to a large lake. The Big Water Trail is longer than Little Water, but isn’t very steep; Little Water is a much shorter distance, but is much rockier and fairly steep. We chose to hike up Big Water and run down Little Water. The lake at the top was filled with dogs cooling off, which was a nice break before the descent. The wildflowers were in full bloom in early August making for some beautiful scenery. The trail is pretty heavily trafficked – we probably wouldn’t do it again – but it was nice to get into some elevation to have a break from the heat and experience some shade.
The South Deuel Creek Trail in Centerville is a 4.3 mile lightly trafficked trail. The trail gains roughly 1,400 feet over the first half and runs along a creek. Snickers enjoyed the multiple creek crossings and the shade from the trees was much welcomed. About a mile in, there’s a rope swing and there are numerous campsites along the way. The trail ends at a small waterfall which you can view from both the top and bottom. It was a very enjoyable, short hike close to the city.
The Midmountain Trail is a 25 mile, point-to-point trail in Park City that can be accessed at a number of points for anywhere from a 9-25+ mile hike. We went on a Saturday morning and, aside from two 1/2-1 mile sections where the trail met up with other bike trails, it was very lightly trafficked. The trail itself was relatively easy. There are very few steep inclines and the trail isn’t too technical. The elevation gain was 2,500 ft, but the trail is overall downhill (though it didn’t feel like it!) with an elevation loss of 3,186 ft. The trail is very well marked, though I did get off at one point and ended up adding 1 mile to the expected distance. We went slower than normal mainly due to the altitude – Park City is at 8,000 ft, so even a slight incline left us winded. Beth did 26.5 miles for a long training run, and Matt and Snickers did about 9 miles starting at the end and meeting up with Beth around mile 21.5. Park City is a great place to get on the trails because there’s a lot more shade and the elevation makes it much cooler than in the city. This is a nice, gradual trail to log some serious miles. Udpate – I ran into two moose on the run! Running in the mountains has its perks.
The Double O Arch Trail is located in the Devil’s Garden area of Arches National Park. We left Snickers at the hotel for this one since dogs aren’t allowed on trails in the National Parks. To be honest, we didn’t make it all the way back to the Double O Arch because it was sunset and we wanted to be off the trail before dark, but there are many other arches along the trail. The trail starts on a flat, sandy surface and winds through the fins to the Landscape Arch, which at 290ft is the world’s longest arch! It then scrambles along some slickrock faces to a ridge line. This is where we turned around and stopped at Navajo Arch and Partition Arch on the return.
Corona Arch trail is a moderately trafficked 2.5 mile trail in Moab. The trail has a slight climb at the beginning and then winds along the smooth rock to the towering arch. There is a section that you have to climb rock using cables and another section with a ladder, but overall it was a fairly moderate hike. Dogs are allowed on the trail but may need some assistance on the cables/ladder portions. It was easily 100 degrees the day we went, so go early to try and beat some of the desert heat. The arch at the end is worth the sweat.
The Flying Dog trail from Spring Creek is a 16.5 mile trail in Park City. It is heavily used by mountain bikes, but if you get there early enough, you can get some decent hiking in. Beth did this as part of a training program and did the entire loop in the counterclockwise direction while Matt and Snickers did an out-and-back meeting up at their mile 5. The loop gains 2,000 ft elevation over the course of 16 miles, but there are long switchbacks that make it less daunting. The first few miles winds through some neighborhoods making its way into the Aspen forest. After mile 8, the trail is pretty much downhill to the end with a slight climb around mile 13. It was a good way to log some distance, but with all of the bikes, we probably wouldn’t do it again.
The Uinta National Forest is located near the high Uintas wilderness area of the Uinta Mountains – roughly 80 miles from downtown Salt Lake. The drive through the mountains is gorgeous as you ascend from the valley through Park City and into the pine forests of the Uintas. The trail itself is lightly-to-moderately trafficked and not too difficult. There are areas of climbing, but they are concentrated in small sections with most of the trail being relatively flat. It is a 4.2 mile loop that winds through the wilderness past many lakes. One thing we loved was just how many lakes are concentrated in a small area. The wildflowers were in full bloom at the end of July making for more gorgeous scenery.
The second week in July, we hit the road for Moab – about 230 miles, or just shy of a 4 hour drive southeast from Salt Lake City. Maybe it was a bit crazy to hike in the desert when the temps were in the 100s, but we were hell-bent on visiting the two National […]
The second week in July, we hit the road for Moab – about 230 miles, or just shy of a 4 hour drive southeast from Salt Lake City. Maybe it was a bit crazy to hike in the desert when the temps were in the 100s, but we were hell-bent on visiting the two National Parks in the area: Arches and Canyonlands.
Arches National Park
Arches is located on the Colorado Plateau near the Colorado River. With over 2,000 arches, it has the largest concentration of natural arches in the world. The majority of the rock in the park is sandstone. The arches are formed as water seeped into cracks and through the freeze-thaw cycle ice created pressure breaking off parts of the rock. As wind cleaned out loose particle, fins remained, which further give way to water and wind and became arches. You can see the some of the progress below – the pictures on the right shows the fin stage while the one on the left shows an arch. Fun fact, Skyline Arch (pictured in the photo on the right below) was actually only half that size until 1940 when a boulder fell out and doubled the opening. While we didn’t get to the most famous arch in the park – Delicate Arch – there are so many other beauties to see.
Fins at Arches
We went in the evening to beat the heat, and while it was still in the 90s the shade made it much more bearable. We drove through the park stopping at Balanced Rock and Skyline Arch before hiking through Devil’s Garden. We passed the Landscape Arch, which is one of the longest arches in the world, before climbing up the rock face to head back toward Double O Arch. We ended up turning around before we got there because the sun was setting and we didn’t want to be scrambling in the dark, but we were able to stop at the Partition and Navajo Arches on the way back. In the dark, we pulled up to the Delicate Arch viewpoint to try and capture it with a long exposure.
Delicate Arch at night
Corona Arch is located along a trail in a side canyon along the Colorado River. The arch is partially free-standing and has an impressive 140 ft x 105 ft opening. The trail is relatively easy with only a few short, steep sections, and is 2.3 miles round trip. It’s easy to follow with cairns and green paint to mark the way. While summer is probably not the most ideal time to hike in Moab, we went early in the morning before the sun got too high in the sky. This allowed for some shade along the way from the canyon walls and we were able to finish before the trail got too crowded. We ended the hike with a quick splash (for the dog) in the Colorado River.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park covers over 330,000 acres of land in southeastern Utah. It is one of the more remote National Parks with very little for services throughout; the NPS encourages you to take anything you might need for your visit with you due to the remoteness. The park is divided into three “districts” that are bounded by the Colorado and Green Rivers. You cannot access the different areas from within the park as there are no roads that cross the rivers. To get from one district to the next is anywhere from a 2-6 hour car ride.
The three districts that make up Canyonlands are: Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. Island is the Sky, with its proximity to Moab, is the most highly visited area. Island in the Sky is a sandstone mesa that sits over 1,000 above the surrounding terrain. We visited the Grand Viewpoint, which is at the southernmost point of the scenic drive. It gives a great vista of the White Rim – a sandstone formation above the river convergence, as well as The Needles and The Maze.
The Needles is east of the Colorado River and is named after rock pinnacles that can be found in the landscape. The Needles was once the home of Pueblos, and there are still traces of their heritage including well-preserved petroglyphs. The Maze is located to the west of the Colorado and Green Rivers and is the most primitive area in Canyonlands. It is also one of the most remote and inaccessible areas in the entire United States, which has led to it being called on of the most dangerous places to hike. It has many geological features unique to the area including Orange Cliffs and Golden Stairs.
In early June we headed up to Ogden to hike the Indian Trail. The trail is just shy of 8.5 miles and has 2,700 feet of gain. It follows an old Shoshoni Indian trail through the mountain pass, climbing up to Ogden Canyon and descending into Cold Water Canyon. It’s a steep climb and goes through various terrain – rocky and exposed at the bottom, winding through shady pines, and descending into a lush forest on the backside. The second half of the trail winds along a creek, which our (sometimes) water-loving dog thoroughly enjoyed. Once we got to the bottom, we turned around and did the whole thing in reverse.
Escalante Natural Bridge is a 4 mile out and back trail in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. There will be a more detailed post about our trip to the National Monuments/Parks in Southern Utah later, but suffice to say, Grand Staircase Escalante is amazing. We detoured here on our way to Bryce Canyon for the simple fact that National Parks don’t allow dogs and we wanted to hike with Snickers. The trail itself is flat and easy, though it is very sandy and there are about 4 stream crossings. We’d recommend wearing sandals or shoes you don’t mind getting wet. The trail goes through a canyon surrounded by sheer, red rock faces. There are supposedly petroglyphs on the walls, though we didn’t see any. It makes its way through desert landscape until it ends at a gorgeous natural bridge. We went in the afternoon and the trail was completely empty despite the parking lot being full. It was a perfect place to stretch our legs after a long drive.
Bryce Canyon is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. It’s spotted with hoodoos, which are tall, thin spires of rock that formed when a thick layer of soft rock (mudstone, sandstone) is covered by a thin layer of hard rock (limestone, basalt) that protects the softer layer from erosion. Our initial plan was to just go to some of the lookouts and walk the Sunrise-Sunset trail since that’s the only place dogs are allowed, but Beth and Casey offered to hang out with Snickers on the rim so Matt and I could do a quick hike of the Navajo Loop Trail. The trail is short (1.3 miles) and not too difficult. It winds down via switchbacks into an amphitheater and loops around through fir trees before climbing back up to Sunset Point. The views were amazing throughout and the rock formations were incredible. The trail meets up with other trails at the bottom, so you could easily log some miles in the canyon if you have time (and don’t have a dog).
The Narrows is the last stop along the Zion Canyon bus ride. This place is aptly named, as you drive up this curvy road the walls becoming closer and higher until you arrive at the bus stop where you are in the flat washout from a hard cut river with tower rocks on both sides. There is a 1 mile walk from the bus stop to the Narrows proper where you will see hundreds (thousands!) of people wearing goofy rental water hiking shoes in the mid-morning going for a COLD! walk in the shallow, rocky water. We walked maybe a half mile up the river where it never gets above waist deep; however, the more adventurous will want to start at the end and do the 14 mile water hike descent.
Zion Narrows, walking with a thousand of your closest friends
Zion Narrows, cubby hole in the canyon wall
My parents had this as their must-see item on the trip into Zion and it doesn’t disappoint. No dogs allowed on this section, so it was just the three of us here while Beth did the Pa’rus trail.
While Matt, Beth, and Casey were off enjoying the Narrows, Snickers and I explored Zion a different way. Unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed (which we knew going in) so we walked along the Pa’rus trail and up the Scenic Road for a total of 10 miles. The Pa’rus trail is a nice, paved path that winds along the Virgin River and into the canyon. You can see all of the incredible rock formations that Zion is known for with very little disruption from other people. Snickers loved getting to play in the river to cool off and I enjoyed a leisurely walk. Since we knew it would be a while before the gang got back, we also walked along the road to Zion Lodge so we could experience a taste of what goes on in the park. Cars aren’t allowed on the road during the summer – only shuttle buses – so we didn’t have to worry too much about traffic. The pink and red sandstone cliffs are a sight to behold and we enjoyed just being outside and exploring.