One of my favorite things about moving to a new area (maybe the only thing I like about moving) is finding the closest trail and seeing how far it goes. Five or 10 miles of closely clustered trails is just about perfect for trail running. That sort of network is big enough to explore over and over, without getting bored—or lost.
I first experienced the urge to get my bearings via trail running more than two decades ago, when I left Boston for college in suburban Philadelphia. The Main Line has a surprising variety of trails hidden amid the dense sprawl of mansions, malls, and auto dealers. Saunders Woods, “the Wiss,” and our campus’s own nature trail became frequent escapes for me and my cross-country teammates.
From there, moves to Connecticut (Devil’s Den, Wilton Town Forest, and Waveny Park), Boston’s North Shore (Dogtown), and Boston’s South Shore (Blue Hills Reservation) followed. At each stop, the pattern repeated: Find a trail head, start exploring. Sometimes I’d tuck a trail map in my pocket, just in case. Those runs would start tentatively, as I tried to stay oriented with each turn. Through repetition, I’d gradually figure out the geography. Trail intersections became familiar, and certain boulders and trees would tell me exactly how far I had come and how far I had left to go.
That’s when I really start enjoying trails: when I know them well enough to lose myself figuratively but not literally. Every turn still brings the potential to see something new, even when it’s a turn I’ve made 100 times before. Taking a right might lead to a family of deer standing peacefully in the trail. A left could send my heart rate spiking when I realize I’ve nearly stepped on a snake. Sticking to smooth lowland trails means I can let my mind wander; scampering into the rocky hills requires complete focus on every footfall. Somehow, trail running satisfies both my itch for adventure and my desire to retreat to a serene, familiar place.
I recently moved to a new town near Boston, with a new set of trails—a surprisingly extensive set, I’m happy to report. I’m excited to get out there, get my shoes muddy, and maybe get a little lost. And that brings me to “Running Wild,” AMC’s new trail running blog. After I hit the trails, I’ll share my experiences here. Like a new trail network, I’m not entirely certain where this blog will lead. I know it will be grounded in the greater Boston area, where I do most of my running. But I also know I’d like its reach to grow. If you have story ideas, trails recommendations, or a great trail running photo to share, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to Running Wild. I hope you’ll join me for a long run.
Read the latest from “Running Wild,” AMC’s new trail-running blog.