Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wetmore Trailhead

Jamie trying to stay warm before our run

My sister was in town this weekend so we decided to head over to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and find some new trails to run on. After driving down Riverview Rd. and turning onto Bolanz Rd., we then got onto Akron Peninsula Rd. and followed signs to the Wetmore Trailhead. I've never started from this location before but soon remembered running on these trails with Roy Heger in the past. They're basically horse trails which can get pretty muddy after some rain. Maybe that's why it's called the Wetmore Trail? Jamie and I both stepped in some mud holes today but luckily avoided any horse manure.

The trail starts off going downhill on a gravel/dirt path with a large open field to your right. You then run into a sign which says the loop is 4 miles. Here you must choose to go left or right, although the park currently has the trail closed to the right for some reason, so we decided to start off going left.

The next mile or so winds back and forth and is mainly uphill. We were surprised how fast we were gaining elevation. Once we reached the top of this ridge we had a pretty nice view of the valley with the leaves down. Then the trail heads back downhill with a couple stream crossings along the way. We had to pay special attention to our footing today since the trail was really covered with leaves.

Halfway into our 4 mile loop I noticed that the parking lot for Kendall Hills was right across the street. Now I knew where I was at! It's funny how sometimes the trails you run on all the time are right next to other trails but you don't realize just how close they are to each other. The last time my brother and I ran through Little Meadow (across the street) we were trying to find the trails that my sister and I were on today, but didn't see any trailhead so we just turned around. Now that I know the close proximity of these trails I can really put together a nice long training run.

Jamie and I continued running up and over the Kendall Hills and around Kendall Lake. We stopped near the site of the old toboggan chutes since my sister had never seen this before. For those of you not familiar with this area, there used to be toboggan chutes that were built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) back in the 1930's. These chutes were enjoyed by winter enthusiasts for more than 40 years before being removed in 1990. I'm not sure why they actually decided to remove them.

Here's a picture that is posted on a sign that shows what the chutes used to look like...

And here's a tunnel which still exists that used to allow visitors to hike the foot trail without having to cross the toboggan slide...

We then hopped back onto the Wetmore Trail. Eventually we came to an area with an open field on our left, the other side of the closed trail to our right, and a trail that headed straight. Instead of taking the closed trail, which probably would've lead us back to our car, we headed straight and ran into a large open field that had a bunch of tall radio antennas. They appeared to be for a radio station or something. Not knowing where we were, we continued running straight. At the main gate there was a sign that said something like "Caution. No trespassing. High radio frequencies."

Once we left this area we realized we were on a private street instead of a normal road. We stopped this car that was headed towards us and asked this younger couple how we could get back to the Wetmore Trailhead parking lot. They appeared to be confused as to how we got here but told us to cut between the yards of these 2 houses and then make a right onto Wetmore Rd. So we ran the road back to our car and ended up with a total of 7 miles. I guess somehow we got a little bit outside the boundaries of the national park. Oh well. At least it increased our mileage for the day.

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