A strong thunderstorm blew through last night leaving the air clear and the sky bright today, just begging me to get outside and run. And run (okay run-walked), I did! Mid-afternoon, I drove out to Harbins Park. I planned to run along the two paved multi-use paths since it was my first visit there (how that had happened, I’m not sure). Despite the brisk winds, the sun was warm and there was very little shade along the paved path, so when I saw the pedestrian only trail head, I diverted off the paved path.
Harbins Park is nearly 2,000 acres and has something for everyone – sports fields, playground, pavilions with grills, hiking, mountain biking, and bathrooms. Compared to Tribble Mill, which is only three miles away (wouldn’t it be cool if a greenway connected these two great parks?) this park seems under-used, except for by mountain bikers. At least three people pulled up and hopped on their bikes as I was leaving. It may ne busier on weekends and at the sports fields.
A few other trail reviewers have complained that the scenery is a bit boring and the noise from the nearby local airport is distracting. I found a few picture-worthy spots. The pedestrian trail comes close to the Alcovy River, where I stopped on the boardwalk to take a picture (bottom center) and dump the pine straw and dirt out of my shoes. I think I may appreciate trail gaiters because I find the trail debris in my shoes bothersome. The river was a bit too far away and down a long sloping granite hill to get a good look, which is unfortunate because it would add interest to the trail. Maybe the pedestrian trail will be extended to run alng side the river at some point. The trail itself is unblazed, but is clear-cut with emergency aid markers about every half mile. Around mile 3, or 1.5 depending which way you go from the trail loop head, are two emergency exit paths to the parkng lot, which was comforting simce I failed to note the trail lemgth before getting off the path. Around mile 4, I passed a guy walking in the opposite direction, so I knew I s close to the end. Sure enough, around 4.5 miles, I had made a complete loop.
The trail itself is single-track with some nice inclines and declines, is mostly pine straw covered with a few areas of protruding roots, very few rocks, and enough twists and turns to keep you sharp. It was mid-afternoon, so more wildlife saw me than I saw of them (though I was ever watchful for snakes). I’ll be back out there for more miles soon, especially since I have a 13.1 race at Harbins next month. Maybe you’ll join me!