Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yellow Trail

The Yellow Trail at Sweetwater State Park (Georgia) has always been one of my favorite training runs. Though it's only a 3 mile loop its a great opportunity for hill repeats. From the trailhead you run along Sweetwater Creek through about half a mile of wooded floodplain until you reach a large iron, 50's era, Army surplus tank bridge (donated by the Corp of Engineers).
The creek is probably about 30 yards wide at this point, big and slow. The view from the bridge up and down the creek tends to slow my tempo, especially in autumn. All the trees seem to crowd the banks and lean in, as if they're all trying to look into the water. Some take their tilt beyond what I would call a standing tree. As the water slowly rubs away the bank they start to lose their grip and are sucked in to be devoured by the fat, lazy creek.

Once across the bridge we run across the opposite floodplain. Shortly after a right turn off the metal bridge we cross a small wooden foot bridge over a contributing brook. Just past that we have a choice to make, turn left and grind out the long climb or continue on to the steep climb.
This is where it gets fun. The Yellow Trail is a short run out to a 2 mile loop with a 300' climb from the creek valley to the hill ridge. Turn left after the foot bridge and you start the clockwise route, the long slow climb. The first 100 yards are pretty steep but the rest of the way up are an
unrelenting series of short climbs. After about 1 mile you reach the peak and start your descent.

Turn right after the foot bridge you run another half mile along the creek before you start the steep climb. Here you cover the 300' climb in less than a half mile. This counter clockwise route has always been tough for me. Only in the last year have been able to keep pace all the way up.
Usually I like to do a couple of warm up miles before hitting this loop. And normally I go clockwise (I like the long slow ascent) But every once in a while (like last night) I like to take the loop both ways (clockwise first).

No comments: