Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Get Lost- Pony Pasture Park

Today's trail run was a shining example of why I LOVE trail running. I headed down to Pony Pasture Park, along the James River for a little exploring this morning, and I wasn't disappointed. Usually, when I head to the river, I run the Buttermilk/Northbank trail loop a little closer to the city. Today I wanted to keep it close to home and was in the mood to get lost. Well, a little lost, anyway...It would be pretty embarrassing to be late to pick up my kid from preschool because I was literally lost in the woods.

I count myself as a very lucky person when it comes to seasonal was one of the worst day for pollen so far, and I was able to get out and enjoy the park without suffering from the coughing, sneezing and itchy eyes that are plaguing so many Richmonders right now. That being said, it was pretty awesome to have the trails to myself this morning....Sorry, allergy sufferers...Ya'll hang in there  ;)

I parked at the main Pony Pasture area and noticed immediately that the river is RAGING right now. The James is over 9ft, with no river use allowed without a permit. I geared up for a wet, muddy run; the trails delivered. The main trail at Pony Pasture is a loop that comes in just under 2 miles. My plan was to hit that loop a couple of times and spend a little time exploring the cut-through trails that are a little rougher (and more interesting). About halfway through my first trek around the loop, I hit some ankle-deep water that covered the trail for about 25 yards or so. Keeping an eye out for snakes and critters along the side of the swampy trail, I was loving the mud and the cool water,
 because I'm a trail runner and we dig stuff like that.

Cut-through trail from Pony Pasture to the James.

After a couple of trips around the Pony Pasture loop, I decided to check out the trails at the adjacent James River flat-water area. Crossing the bridge that connects the two areas, I made mental notes about which direction I was heading and physical markers along the way. This would have been a pretty inconvenient time to get lost. My sense of direction is light-years better than it used to be, but that's not really saying much. The flat-water area was super fun. I hit a sweet little single-track trail that ran right along the river bank before heading back along a few cut-through trails, totally impressing myself with my navigational skills.

There's something magical about running on unfamiliar trails that surprise you and leave you wondering what's around the next turn. These trails are awesome because they are super flat/fast, they dart along by the river and the terrain is simply beautiful. Definitely not as challenging as Buttermilk or Northbank, but sometimes that's a good thing.

Pony Pasture Park, RVA. Doesn't get much prettier than this.
I know this area is super popular and crowded on nice weeked days, so getting the opportunity to explore solo was pretty amazing. I'll be back on those trails soon. Like tomorrow.

Click HERE to check out RichmondOutside's Pony Pasture page