5 Best Jogging Trails in the Bay Area
By Penelope Folsom
Life is good. We made it through yet another winter and here it is almost time to shed those bulky coats and itchy wooly mittens and get back into some outdoor fun. How about jogging? If you’ve never done it before, perhaps this is the year to consider it. Start with a chat with your doctor to be sure everything is in working order and let him know what you’re about to undertake. Next, invest in a good pair of running shoes. Then find a friend to keep you motivated, preferably one who has some jogging experience. Start with some walking, add some jogging and do a little of both until you’ve worked up to a comfortable pace.
If you’re a regular jogger you’re no doubt familiar with these trails, but for a newbie these may be as yet undiscovered treasures. In the name of expediency and convenience, many joggers prefer the local roadways. This is not only hazardous, but breathing the carbon monoxide emitted from passing cars is less than optimal. If you’re not a jogger, any of these trails are equally as pleasant if you prefer a leisurely walk or even a bike ride.
1. The Cross Island Trail located on Kent Island first opened in 2001 and is more popular than ever as more and more people have discovered it. Starting on the Love Point end you can choose to either go on a dirt and sand trail through the woods and down to the beach or the paved trail that winds through forests of evergreens and open farm land. It’s always a treat with the changing seasons as buds emerge in the spring and geese fly over in the fall. We’ve had fun hanging out on one of the pedestrian bridges looking down at the turtles and water snakes winding through the grasses in search of their next meal. One of the nicest features is that if you are able to go the distance, the reward at the end is a seafood dinner at any of a dozen restaurants. The hard part is leaving the table to jog back. A better way, if you choose to go the five-plus miles, is to have a friend park his car at one end of the trail and yours at the other. More information can be found at www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/crossisland.html
2. Quiet Waters Park is a gift. Imagine the town fathers in Annapolis having enough insight to save this gem of real estate from the developers. It is a magnificent piece of waterfront property with 340 acres set aside for everyone to enjoy. There are over six miles of paved trails that wind through trees and down along the South River. The few small hills are negligible, unless of course you’re jogging up one of them. Without appearing to be overly developed there is a food service available as well as kayak rentals. The pavilions can be reserved for private parties and ice skating is available in season. To find the hours and a map, log on to www.AAcounty.org/RecParks/parks/QuietWaters
3. Jogging the North Central Rail Trail may be one of the most peaceful jaunts available on weekdays. Typical of most of the area trails, on weekends it can become much more populated. The trail is 10 feet wide, flat and hard-packed. It is tree-covered for the most part. If you’re looking to get away from the more popular area, start in Monkton and head north. There are restrooms and food available near the trail, but have a plan as many are seasonal and have odd hours. For a map and parking suggestions click on the Web site at www.DNR.state.MD.Us/Greenways/NCRT_Trail.html
4. The C&O Canal Trail is similar to the NCRT, although considerably longer at approximately 180 miles. And like the NCRT the trail is hard-packed, wide and flat. As with the NCRT there is a slight grade, but it is negligible and would take a discerning eye to notice. It is perhaps more scenic as much of it winds along the river bank of the Potomac. There are sections where turkey calls can be heard and an occasional eagle can be observed. Rarely crowded from the north to almost Georgetown, if you’ve never been on this trail you are in for a treat. The Harper’s Ferry area near mile 63 has always been a favorite. Loaded with history such as events that led up to the Civil War, devastating floods and the development and then loss of an industrial town, it is fascinating to walk through. For an excellent map with suggested parking and picnic areas from Georgetown all the way up to Cumberland, go to www.NPS.Gov/CHOH/PlanYourVisit/upload/ParkMap.pdf
5. It’s now possible to jog from Annapolis to the Baltimore Washington Airport. A mere 13-plus miles from the beginning of the trail at Boulter’s Way and Rt. 450 in Annapolis to the circuit around the airport, the B&A Trail is an interesting if not congested trail. Lots of reasons to stop with coffee shops, strip malls and food service along the way. The trail also crosses more streets than most other trails, which is mildly inconvenient. However, for a trail that winds through a densely populated urban area, there are many quiet interludes as it winds through heavily forested areas. Details are available at www.DNR.State.MD.US/Greenways/BA_Trail.html
And as an honorable mention, we should let you in on a well kept secret. The US Naval Academy in Annapolis is one of the best jogging circuits out there. Primarily along the water the distance around the perimeter is over five miles. Entry, if permitted, is through the front gate. However, be aware, you may have your required ID but their rules are subject to change and change often, so for security reasons there are times when the gate guards will not allow access. If you can get in it will be worth the effort.