STATE PARK ADVENTURES
There’s a certain freedom in trail running. Moving quickly yet deliberately through the woods, down a trail, over rocks and roots and grass, allows you to feel as if you’re bounding through a natural playground. The benefits of exercise and time in nature build on each other.
Almost all state parks have trails where runners can put in a few miles. Huntsville State Park in East Texas has a long tradition of attracting runners to its fast and scenic trails with races such as the Rocky Raccoon 100, which began in 1993.
The “100” in the name refers to 100 miles. Of running.
The appeal of the trail is undeniable. The famed Chinquapin Trail encircles Lake Raven, which sits at the heart of the park. (The race adds laps, extra loops and side trails to the main trail’s 7 miles.) The trail crosses through pine woodlands and over marshes with abundant wildlife and scenery.
Trail running conveys many benefits over road running. It requires focus and problem-solving, giving your brain a boost. Running on uneven ground improves strength, flexibility and balance. Trails offer runners a variety of sights, sounds and terrain, making a run feel more like an adventure. Plus, being in nature is known to reduce anxiety and improve health.
You don’t have to run 100 miles, of course. Do the distance that’s best for you, and feel the earth move under your feet.
Russell Roe Chase Fountain; Inset from top Maegan Lanham | TPWD; Earl Nottinham | TPWD; Maegan Lanham | TPWD
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