A New Route

One of the many benefits of living in Southeast Michigan is the abundance of parks and trails. My wife and I are big fans of the local trails and parks, including the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. We’ve visited a few of the Metroparks, but had only run at one of them – Stony Creek Metropark – prior to last weekend. A fellow runner suggested we try Indian Springs Metropark sometime because it has a nice eight-mile path for running and cycling. We decided to check it out last weekend and made the drive out to Indian Springs on Saturday morning. It’s not the closest Metropark to us, but it’s within a reasonable driving distance, and the drive was very scenic due to the fall colors we saw along the way. The weather was perfect for running – a relatively warm (for October) morning with sunny skies and very little wind, so we ran the full eight-mile loop.

Indian Springs Metropark

Indian Springs Metropark

Indian Springs Metropark

When we got to the park, we found the trailhead right away after following the main park road for a couple of miles. The park wasn’t very busy and we had no problem finding a parking spot. Like Stony Creek, which is a popular park for Detroit-area runners, Indian Springs has a paved two-lane trail for bicyclists, runners, and walkers that has the distance marked in regular intervals. Stony Creek’s trail is marked in 0.25-mile increments, while Indian Creek’s is marked every 0.1 mile and every kilometer. The run itself was pretty uneventful – I had tired legs and it felt like a struggle to keep my paces consistent from mile to mile. I did start to feel a little better toward the end of the run though, and managed to make the last mile my fastest one of the run by a few seconds. I really enjoyed running a new route, and the scenery at Indian Springs is great. The path is an out-and-back with a two-mile loop on the far end (between miles three and five). From the trailhead, it follows the main park road for about a mile before turning off into a wooded area for a couple of miles, splitting off into the two-mile loop, then rejoining the original path for the final three miles back. The fall colors were in full effect, and the leaves helped make it a very scenic route. We saw some other runners, a few walkers, and several cyclists while we were running, but it wasn’t too busy or crowded at any point. The entire route was pretty peaceful, especially the six miles that wound through the wooded areas. The distance markings were nice, though there were a few times during the run when I passed them and thought, “That was only another tenth of a mile? When will this end?”*

* My actual thoughts were edited for the sake of family friendliness

The path at Indian Springs Metropark winds through some very scenic and peaceful wooded areas.

The park still wasn’t very busy when we finished our run, and we noticed a couple of empty playgrounds and other play areas nearby including a water spray area, a rock climbing wall, and an adventure maze…of course we couldn’t resist checking them out and getting a few photos. We really enjoyed running at Indian Springs. It’s a bit of a drive for us, so I’m not sure how often we’ll run there, but we hope to get out there on a fairly regular basis. One nice thing about Indian Springs is that we were told the path gets plowed promptly during the winter (as does the path at Stony Creek), so we might head to Indian Springs for some outdoor runs when the sidewalks, neighborhoods, and trails closer to us are too snowy or icy for running. But I’ll worry about that later – I’m still enjoying the fall weather and don’t want to think about winter running yet!

I made it to the top of the climbing wall!

OK...the wall really isn't very tall.

Lost in the adventure maze.

Great fall colors at Indian Springs Metropark.

I wore my new Brooks PureFlow shoes for this run; the eight-miler is the farthest run I’ve done in them so far. I hope to do a longer run in them this weekend to see if they hold up as well as they have for my shorter runs. The PureFlow felt great on this run – they were very comfortable and didn’t feel too heavy even though my legs felt like cement at times. I’ve suffered from intermittent toe and arch pain throughout much of this year, but I didn’t feel any more (or different types of) pain on this run than I would normally feel while running eight miles on pavement. So far, I think the thing I like the most about the PureFlow is the balance Brooks has achieved between keeping them fairly lightweight and adequately cushioned. They’re noticeably heavier than racing flats like the Green Silence, but they feel lighter on my feet than any trainer I’ve used and the cushioning should make them comfortable on most types of terrain. I’ll definitely try them on longer runs and on more trails or unpaved roads soon so I can get a better idea of their versatility and feel on uneven surfaces.

Best of luck to everyone running in the Detroit and Grand Rapids half or full marathons Sunday, or in any other races this weekend – safe and happy running!

Questions:
Have you run on a new route recently? If so, how was it different from your normal routes?

How do you choose new running routes? Do you rely on recommendations, or do you randomly try new routes and just see how it goes?

Where do you do your outdoor runs (parks, trails, running paths, sidewalks, roads, etc.)?

What are your weekend running plans?

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6 Responses to A New Route

  1. Becki Sue says:

    Glad you checked out Indian Springs! Sounds like you enjoyed it.

    • Matt says:

      We loved Indian Springs – thanks for the recommendation! We’ll definitely go back there, and it’ll be a nice change of pace from Stony for some of our long runs this winter.

  2. Matt says:

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. Looks like we run in some of the same places, so I’ll keep an eye out for you out there.

    One of my favorite things about moving to a new area is the ability to explore. Most of the time I’ll go for a run with no route in mind and just randomly pick streets and trails. I did that last week and discovered a fantastic park with lots of trails just steps from my apartment.

    • Matt says:

      No problem, Matt – thanks for dropping by mine, too. I’ll keep an eye for you as well. I generally prefer the trails when possible due to them being a little softer, but the parks are great, especially in the winter when plowed running paths are otherwise scarce. I love that the trails connect and that there are some great parks located near to the trails.

      It’s very cool that you’ve been able to explore and find some great running spots so close to where you live…this is a great area for runners!

  3. Sven Gustafson says:

    I have to say, the abundance of parks and trails that you mention is not equally distributed throughout the region. I live in Ferndale, so it’s pretty much a 45-minute drive for me in any direction to find a nature area with dirt trails. So while I love running the trails at Island Lake in Brighton or Bald Mountain, I rarely have the time to go there.

    Recently, however, I have been rediscovering Palmer Park in Detroit (along the west side of Woodward from 7 Mile down almost to McNichols). There’s a fairly large wooded area that threads through the park that I mostly avoided, as it was the site of a large homeless encampment and got a little sketchy, in favor of sticking to the road that winds through the park. Well now the encampment is gone and various groups have been doing a lot of work cleaning up the trails and adding new mulched trails. There are some huge, old trees in there, the fall colors right now are magnificent, and you can easily squeeze out a couple miles following the various criss-crossing trails without retracing your path too much.

    Anyway, it’s a nice way to break up what otherwise has become an all-pavement, all-the-time regimen for me.

    • Matt says:

      Great point about the unequal distribution of parks and trails in the region, Sven. I feel very fortunate to live fairly close to several trails, parks, and recreation areas, but I know people living in other parts of the region aren’t as fortunate in that regard. I know a long drive can be frustrating, especially in relation to the amount of time spent on the activity once one arrives at the destination. I’d normally be reluctant to drive 90 minutes or two hours round trip to go for a 40-minute run, for example, and that’s the primary reason why I haven’t run at places like Hines Park, the Dequindre Cut, Island Lake, or Kensington even though I’m sure they’re all excellent places to run.

      Thanks for mentioning Palmer Park – it’s great that they’ve cleaned up and enhanced the wooded area, and that it’s a good place to run within the city limits. I’ll try to make it down there sometime to check it out and run a few miles on the trails. It’s really nice to have some nearby alternatives to the all-pavement running routes available, even if many of the more traditional running parks aren’t as close.

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