Runners, this course makes me smile.
From the start, you will be challenged to manage your pace and to watch your toes. The first ¾ of a mile will take you up, up, and up some more as you climb up the Wolf’s Rock Trail. When you finally level out you’ll be greeted with a beautifully expansive view to your right as you make your way toward Wolf’s Rock, itself.
As you pass by Wolf’s Rock, you’ll continue to be treated to beautiful views as you run through a continuous stretch of rolling rock gardens on the trail. This section is runnable, but it is more than happy to hurt your toes, ankles, and ego if you’re not paying attention to where your feet land.
Just over a 1 ½ miles into the course, Wolf’s Rock trail will hit a sharp descent as you make your way down to meet up with the Hanging Rock trail. From here, the trail will burst open into a wide open dirt road as this is the main attraction at the park. It will also challenge you from the start with a steep incline before it levels out and gives you an expansive view of where you’ll be exerting your effort in just a few short minutes.
Once you reach the base of Hanging Rock, you’ll be momentarily stuck wondering ‘Am I about to head all the way up there?’. And the answer is, yes. Yes, you will be. This climb up a partially staired, primarily rocky path is difficult and will need you to focus on power hiking. This is the most challenging part of your run and you will need to focus.
After you level out at the top, you’ll follow the trail until you reach Hanging Rock where you’ll see a turn around sign. Take a moment to grab a photo, and a breath of fresh air before you begin your descent. Do not think for a moment that this descent will be easy and that you won’t have to pay as much or more attention than you did on the way up.
Rocks don’t care if you get hurt, and gravity doesn’t care if you want to stay upright. Be careful!
After you reach the base of Hanging Rock, you’ll retrace your steps back towards Wolf’s Rock. Don’t worry. Running this trail in the opposite direction is a very different experience as you’ll find that the majority of what you ran on your way out was slowly going down, and now you’re increasingly rising and pushing yourself up the last major climb of the loop.
Passing Wolf’s Rock this time, you’ll continue down Cook’s Wall trail, an easy path where you’ll be given the chance to stretch your legs, enjoy the view, and pick up any pace that you may have lost. From this point on, you’ll have conquered the most challenging portions of the trail and can enjoy the beauty of what’s left of your 3+ miles.
While running down Cook’s Wall trail, you’ll soon veer off to the right onto Magnolia Springs Trail, where this little connector trail will take you down hill through a beautiful meadow of Magnolia trees. At the base of the trail, you’ll reach the base of Moore’s Wall loop where you’ll hang a right and continue your journey amongst the Magnolia trees. And don’t think this section won’t amaze you with beauty since it doesn’t climb up to the top. This slow rolling trail is a fantastic run, offering multiple green tunnels to enjoy.
From here, you’ll jump trails when Moore’s Wall hits it’s connecting point and move over to the Lake Trail. Take the chance to watch the rippling water a few feet to your right with the ridge line standing tall in the background. This trail is little used but has its own hidden gem I’m not going to tell you about here, but will expect to see many pictures of when the race is over. This gem will be at the lolly-pop turn around as you make your way back, retracing your steps until you make your way toward the finish line.
This park is beautiful, and this course will show you some of the major highlights as well as a few of the hidden gems most people never get to experience. We’re looking forward to seeing your smiles.