An old trail closes; a new one springs up

I went out to Fort Ben this morning for a few laps on the Lawrence Creek Trail, one of my favorite getaways.

But instead seeing of an old familiar, 2.2-mile loop trail — one I have been running for seven years — this is what I beheld:

What the $%#@???

What happened to my trail?! It was now covered with logs,  branches and brush. Several signs warned me back.

I was dumbfounded for a moment or two. Was this really happening?

The trail and I went way back. I’ve run it hundreds of times, in all kinds of weather. It was an easy, groomed loop: about eight feet wide, covered with limestone, packed dirt and occasional rocks.

It was the perfect trail for warming up. It didn’t require much thought or effort. Just run and turn when the path turned.

This is what it used to look like:Confused, I walked around a bit, trying to see if there was a new trail anywhere.

And sure enough, in a minute, I found it.

It looked like a brand-new trail — a singletrack, with lots of twists and turns, short sight lines and banked turns.

I had my iPhone with me, so I turned it on and entered search terms on Google.

In a few seconds, I found a few blog posts about the new trail. It seems the old one frequently got flooded and suffered lots of ruts (very true). The park management wanted to let the old trail grow over.

In its place (or in the same general area), a new trail with a much different look was built — apparently designed and constructed by a local mountain bike association.

The new trail was a whole different breed of cat. But my curiosity was piqued.

Mrs. Trail Boy was with me, and we decided to explore the new trail. I jogged ahead, and she hiked behind.

I turned on the GPS mapping function on my phone so I could see what the trail looked like on a map — and how it compared to the previous trail.

I also kept my eyes pointed down. This trail seemed a bit more technical — lots of rocks, roots, twists and turns — and therefore more challenging. I didn’t want to take a spill if I could avoid it.

I have to say the new trail had some advantages. Instead of a mindless, groomed loop, it was a bit more interesting:

And it offered some nice scenery of the various gorges and ravines:

I have to say I was enjoying the new trail and the new view.

I also was glad that the trail used more of the parkland, in a wider loop that run up behind the sledding hill and numerous hillsides that were previously off limits.

The miles passed by.

After about 30 minutes, I got a text from Mrs. Trail Boy saying she was turning around, and would meet me at the car.

I continued running, with a few pauses to shoot pictures or check the map.

I had the trail mostly to myself, with the exception of a few people out walking their dogs. I realized that come next summer, the trail will be packed with walkers, runners and mountain bikers.

But today, I could enjoy the scenery in peace and quiet.

Eventually, I hit the final descent, did a few last turns, and saw the trailhead back to the parking lot.

I hit my GPS “stop” button. I had covered 4.4 miles.

Then I looked at the map image, to see how many twists and turns I had actually done. I was amazed.

First, here’s a GPS map of the old trail:

And here’s the new trail:

What a difference.

Overall, I was glad to discover a new trail.

Even though I’ll miss my old friend, the new trail seems like a worthy replacement.

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