One of the finest characteristics of our capital city is its proximity to a host of natural amenities. While there are ample opportunities for biking, running, and walking within city limits, you are limited to relatively flat, paved trails. Drive just a few minutes north of the city, however, and there is a grand network of public land and trails to keep your feet happy for years. One of my favorite spots in Fishing Creek Valley (the first valley north of Harrisburg) is Boyd Big Tree Preserve.
This 800-acre conservation area is owned and managed by the PA DCNR for multiple uses, including hunting, so be sure to wear your orange during hunting season! With over 12 miles of well-marked trails (plus a bonus trail that shoots over to Blue Mountain Parkway through Central PA Conservancy land), there is enough to keep you busy for your spring training runs. This area is particularly well suited to folks like myself who, during a momentary lapse in judgement, signed up for April 21st quad-burning monster, Hyner View 25/50k.
Need hill training? This is the place to go. There are enough trails that you can tailor the run to your degree of difficulty, and the loop below is my favorite for easing into hill training. Once you have a strong base built up, take the yellow trail straight up the west side of the property, or if you prefer, chug up the powerline.
It was a beautiful morning to be out in the woods, and I was lucky enough to run with a few deer that made it through the hunting season. Despite a few folks hiking with their four-legged friends, I had the park to myself.