Ah, fall is here again. I took a short run this morning through the crunchy leaves and lamented how, once again, I have missed the late summer trail running series that the Greater Bellingham Running Club (GBRC) sponsors. It seems that every year, just as the trail running series begins, I’m beginning some kind of commitment that happens on the same night. This year I’m taking classes on editing through the extended programs up at Western Washington University.

I’m enjoying my classes, but I’m sad to have missed out on running the trails with a group. Trail running is different than road running or track running in that it engages the brain differently – and the muscles. On the trails, you’ve got to watch where you’re going to avoid tripping over rocks, roots or even just variations in the turf.  You’ve got to hop and dodge and bob. And then you have to hike up and pound down hills. It’s fun.

I learned to enjoy running on trails in Arizona. Every year, Bill and I visit his mom in Peoria, and nearly every day during our visits, we drive out to Thunderbird Park and take rambling runs on the trails through the desert. I love leaping over stones in the big gravel patches and avoiding Teddy Bear Cactus plants. Once I even enjoyed NOT stepping on a sleeping rattle snake. And while Arizona is where Bill introduced me to trail running, my favorite trail run ever was one we took this summer along the Baker Lake Trail.  Soft and spongy, smelling of moss and evergreen trees, this trail curls along beside the lake with hardly any elevation gain. We ran for 12 miles (six miles in and six miles out), poking our way through the woods at a lazy, happy pace. It’s one of my favorite memories of this year.

What are your favorite trails to run? And what makes them so great? Share your knowledge so we can all have some fun before the weather turns the ground muddy?

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