The Mad Cows were on the mooooove yesterday! Say what? My local running group is the Mad Cow Running Company (MCRC), located in Murfreesboro, TN. For some strange reason, we like each other enough to crawl out of bed on a frosty Saturday morning to hit the trails. We have a really great and dedicated group of folks so it isn’t uncommon for some of the herd to drive for an hour (or more) to find our next great trail running adventure.
Being in Tennessee, we have access to so many wonderful trails, it seems like I should start sharing the details with everyone else. As such, I will try to share information about the trails we encounter when the herd is on the move. Yesterday, MCRC went for a fun run on the Bryant Grove Trail.
Here the basics of the trail:
Location: The trail is located in Long Hunter State Park (2910 Hobson Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076) – go in the main entrance of the park, make your first left, and the trail head is on the right hand side of the parking lot near the play ground. There are number of other great trails in Long Hunter State Park, including a beautiful 2 mile paved loop around the lake, but we’ll focus on the Bryant Grove Trail for the purposes of this post.
Length: The trail is 4 miles out and 4 miles back for a total distance of 8 miles. The trail does NOT loop.
What else? The park opens at 8 am (sometimes earlier in the summer) and closes at sunset. No pets allowed on this trail or in the Couchville Lake Recreation area. There are bathrooms at both ends of the trail. The trail is clearly marked with white blazes and mile markers. And if you really like the trail, there is a 9 mile race there in August, sponsored by the Nashville Striders, called the Wild Thang 9 miler.
In my mind, this is one of the best trails for new trail runners. The trail has minimal elevation gain (approximately 200 ft) over the course of the trail, so that runners can focus on the run. Most of the folks I have talked to about becoming trail runners report that their biggest fear is tripping and twisting and ankle or falling and getting really hurt. This is always a risk, but this trail is not super technical so it allows runners to get their trail legs. In fact, yesterday I ran this trail as my first trail run after spraining my ankle at a trail race in mid-December.
I like this trail because it gives me an opportunity to run fast due to large open stretches without a lot of obstacles. And let’s face it, the best part of trail running is the adrenaline high of zipping through the woods. There are a few more technical spots that allow you to test out “quick feet”. With short stretches of rocks and roots coming in clusters, some quick feet are needed to keep moving without tripping. This is a good place to practice the skill. If you are new to trails and want to get better at quick feet and improve ankle stability, I highly recommend jump roping.
If you come from the Couchville Lake Recreational Area side, you will pass by beautiful views of the water on your right during the first mile. There is a mixture of cedar tree groves and single track trail but also plenty of parts of the trail where you can run two folks across. The deer in the area are without fear and it isn’t uncommon for them to walk out onto the trail to investigate the people. If you are lucky, and get up early on a cold day, you may also see some frost flowers like the herd found yesterday.
In short, this trail offers a lot of opportunities for new and veteran runners. For those dabbling in trail running, the trail allows runners the chance to practice basic trail running skills of quick feet and the ever important, picking up of your feet (so you don’t trip) without having to worry about hills, poor trail markings, or an overgrown trail. As for veteran runners, it is a great place to practice raw trail speed.