It occurred to me while training on Sunday that there is a great little 4-mile stretch that offers a nice introduction to trail running. It falls in the middle of a longer run I do, but it also makes a nice one on its own.
Over the course of the four miles you will have experienced a condensed version of a trail run: hills, rocks, dirt, single track, open spaces, views, peace, 2.5 miles of up and down, 1.5 miles of flat to gradual climb. It really isn’t steep, but you start below the dam and end up above the lake so that’s something. I’ll check the elevation next time I run it and let you know.
Start at Anderson Dam Park, which is located at the corner of Cochrane and San Rafael. It falls below Anderson Dam where there are picnic tables, open spaces, and Coyote Creek. Cross the bridge over the creek and just go straight on the dirt path. Do not go on the pavement.
You will hit Serpentine Trail and go right. Follow it around the pond and then go left and up. You quickly hit a “T”; go right along the trail. There are trail markers that are easy to follow. Remember, if you have multiple choices, you are heading up and over the dam. Follow the trail up and you will cross the paved road to the dam. Keep going on trail.
You are about to hit single track, rocks, and it gets a little steeper. Follow it all the way to the dam. When you hit the dam, go across the whole thing towards the parking lot. There is a restroom and water fountain if you need it. Head across the lot to the hills. Go between or around the gates and back on the dirt path.
Follow Lakeview Trail up and straight. You will have the option of turning right, which is fine, but I usually stay to the left as it is the ridge closest to the lake. Take it all the way up and around. Eventually you hit a little pond, which is awesome in winter because of the rising steam. You will see a neighborhood and street to the left. Head that way. Run to the cute school bus stop. You made it the two miles! Now turn around and go back down.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/schizoform/42148718/