s promised here is my favorite trail run of 2010; the Lake Trail found south of Red Lodge, Montana in the Custer National Forest. Why? No motorized vehicles, just wide single track trail meandering along a whitewater mountain stream, gentle grade, mix of lodge pole pine and fir trees, with sharp ascents to the mountain peaks above. Warning! There are a number of waterfalls that allow water to cascade hundreds of feet that can be viewed while on trail. It is not recommended that you try to run and view these waterfalls at the same time! You can run as far as you want, turn around for an out and back, loop over the adjacent mountain ridge (requires a preplanned pickup – app 22 miles) or a combination of the above. I have run this trail annually for the last 10 years while in Red Lodge attending a state fiddle contest. If you go – travel south of Red Lodge on the first leg of the Beartooth Highway, at approximately 8 miles watch for a right hand turn (asphalt) with a Lake Trail sign. Continue on this road approximately 2 miles and you will find a large parking area with a decent USDA Forest Service outhouse.
For 5 miles – this trail has minimal switchbacks but rather a gentle / rolling climb that upon return just begs a hammer down mode. Makes you feel fast! This run can be used as a training run (fartlek, tempo, etc) or just an easy mountain run at elevation. I typically have only 1.5 hours so with travel this fits the schedule. I usually run this trail in late summer – and if it is a late PM run there is enough shade to protect you from the sun. I have had some tremendous training runs on this trail. This trail is a runner friendly trail. I have encountered a number of backpackers headed either in or out of the Beartooth Absaroka Wilderness. Most have been very gracious to step aside and let a runner pass. Their looks are priceless! When I run this trail I typically plan an up tempo workout due to previous great runs on this trail. Just one of those that inspire! Caution – take a minute at a few of the “pull outs” to slow down and look at God’s creation – the views extending deep into the wilderness are impressive. Enjoy.
Training Tip: as winter gives way to spring – be careful not to ramp up either mileage or intensity too quickly. I know it is tempting – temps way up, sun feels good, no heavy winter layers, speed! The human body responds very positively to incremental amounts of physical stress but rebels when we load up too much too soon. Enjoy the spring runs, and use small steps to get to where you want to go!
Please share your favorite trail run!
Next up = hardest workout of 2010!