Sunday, April 20, 2008

Exploring the Blue Blaze

After talking with my friend Stacy last night we decided to meet at the West Boat Dock of West Branch State Park at 10 o'clock this morning to run some trails. Usually we run on the mountain bike trails that are located south of the red dot (where we parked) on the map above, but today we decided to explore the section of Buckeye Trail that passes through the state park. The weather was perfect for running today. Cloudy and in the mid to upper 50s. Not too warm, not too cool.

I've seen the entrance to the Buckeye Trail on my drive into the park many times and have always wanted to check out this area but just never ventured over that way. You can see the route that we took today on the map above. I highlighted it with small red dots.

On our way to the entrance of the Buckeye Trail we saw a small snake on the road and Stacy picked it up to display for the camera. Look at the excitment on his face...

From this point on we knew it would be an exciting day! After a short run along Rock Springs Rd. we reached the trailhead to the Buckeye Trail on the left side of the road. Here's what it looks like at the beginning, complete with a map holder...
The trail was pretty wet towards the beginning but it soon turned more dry and allowed us to run most of the way with the exception of a few swampy areas. This section of the BT was nicer than I had expected but not quite as good as the Cuyahoga Valley. There were some scenic valleys and views along the way though and quite a few water crossings. On our way back to the car we counted a total of 10. Here's Stacy leaping over one of the crossings...

Continuing west we encountered some more signs of wildlife after crossing W. Cable Line Road. A leftover carcass and some feathers from something that was either blown to bits or mauled by another animal...

Maybe Bigfoot passed through here? Stacy and I joked about seeing Sasquatch since I told him about a posting that this guy made on this website. Click here to read it. It does say that the closest road to him was Cable Line Rd. which we were near, so who knows?

Eventually we reached Industry Rd. and weren't sure whether or not the Buckeye Trail continued on the road or on the trail. The BT does traverse the entire state of Ohio but not all of it is actually on trail. Since we were both curious we ran along Industry Rd. for about a half mile or so, but still no sign of getting back onto the trail. There were houses around here and the blue blazes were marked on telephone poles which I hadn't seen before. So we turned around and headed back the way we came. Here's a view of Michael Kirwan Lake at the far west end...
Once we got back to our cars my watch said we did exactly 10 miles (probably 9 miles of trail and 1 mile of road). Then this park ranger came by and we asked her if we could've got back onto an actual trail down where we were at the west end of the park. She showed us a map and told us we could've turned right, headed over a bridge, and circled back around on the north side of the lake. At the time we didn't see any blue blazes indicating this, but I will definitely have to try to run the entire loop next time I go back to West Branch. Overall it was a great day of running. I love being able to run new trails and not know what's coming up next. I knew West Branch had a good system of mountain bike trails already but it's nice to know that I can now incorporate the Buckeye Trail into my long runs.
On a side note:
My brother Jeff and sister Jamie will be running in the Boston Marathon tomorrow for their first time. If you want to track their progress, Jeff's bib # is 5017 and Jamie's is 13447.
Also, here's a few other local runners that I know that will be running:
Brett Himes (7036)
David Peterman (6222)
Lloyd Thomas (3375)

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