Sunday, February 25, 2007

Return to Tuckahoe

Mike Keene running to the sun on the Tuckahoe Valley Trail.

I have not been shot at trail running at Tuckahoe State Park. I have, however, had to cut a route short to avoid been driven by scent hounds. And being shot at wouldn't necessarily dissuade me from going back--Tuckahoe is the promise land for trail running on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It's a rolling network of singletrack, horse trails, creek crossings, and as many hills as you will find in the land of flat farm and forest acreage.

Yesterday (2/24), Mike Keene and I made our first return there since running the Holiday Lake 50K++. We carved out a 10-mile route that included the Tuckahoe Valley Trail, Creekside Cliff, and Pee Wees Trail, with a minimal road stretch to get back to the lake and the truck. It was roughly 30 degrees, with winds from 10-20 mph, giving us a functional temperature of 20 degrees. We left Easton at 6:00am, and took in the bulk of the sunrise on the trail. No wildlife encounters--though I have come across everything from fox, deer, a startled and disgruntled raccoon, and one morning, what had to be the fastest land turkey on Delmarva.

Our return to the trails also represented a first for me: hauling a digital camera along for the run to get some pictures. This was all-in-all a successful endeavor, though new batteries will be on the pre-run checklist next time.

Tuckahoe has been our main training grounds for Holiday Lake and will be as well for the JFK 50-miler in November. It is also, simply put, the best place to run on the Eastern Shore (I am willing to modify that statement if someone can point me to somewhere comparable). I first discovered the park about 14 years ago as a mountain biking destination, then forgot about it until a couple years ago when the trail running hobo jumped the thru-train to the soul. Since then, I have mapped out routes from 4 to 20 miles, either solo, or dragging dog, friend, or family out there whenever possible.

If you are inspired to take a trip out there, I recommend parking by the lake, and building your route off the 4.5-mile (from point-to-point) Tuckahoe Valley Trail, which connects to most all the other trails. Creekside Cliff (1.25 miles), Little Florida (1.75 miles), and Pee Wees Trail (1.6 miles) are all exceptional. Adkins Arboretum is located next to the park, and some of the Tuckahoe Valley Trail has shared stretches with the Arboretum.

Tuckahoe is a managed hunting area, which seems an interesting concept for a system of trails widely used by horse riders, mountain bikers, dog walkers, and runners, but checking hunting seasons for the Shore makes it fairly easy to avoid noisy, heart-racing run-ins. And if you are just jones-ing, and willing to take your chances with hunter run-ins (as I have done) the cautionary bright-colored apparel (neon orange preferred) can serve as your yellow brick road.

1 comment:

Michael Keene said...

Michael Valliant is responsible for torturing me this past year over many hundred blissful miles. Running is not an easy thing for me, and it hurts much of the time. But, running and talking with Mike makes the long miles seem like mere seconds. I would recommend for every runner to experiment with having a buddy along for the outing. It can be very rewarding. It is for me.

I'm glad I did not break your camera Michael.
~Michael Keene