Whether you are an avid runner or just starting out — Little Forks wants you to know that our preserves are a perfect way to mix up your routine. Trail running has become increasingly popular. The Outdoor Industry Association reported in 2018 that there are more trail runners than there are off-road bikers – about 9 million!
Going to a nature preserve, instead of a track or treadmill, adds variability to your routine with the added mystery of what creatures and sights you’ll come across. With temperatures climbing and the sun shining you can hear a chorus of frogs, spot sunbathing turtles or snakes (harmless garter snakes usually) and a herd of deer running off in the woods. What better way to enjoy nature and avoid those pesky mosquitoes than by getting in some cardio? To help start your journey, we took the guesswork out of adding up miles and outlined a few options at our preserves that will compliment your short or long-distance running needs.
Forestview Natural Area is 1.3 miles in and out; run the trail 3 times to complete a 5K or 3.1 miles.
The Averill Preserve is about 1 -1.5 miles depending on the route you take. For maximum distance use the Ed and Glenn trail, marked in green back towards the river, and run around three times followed by a nice cool down on the all access path — totaling 3.57 miles.
See multiple locations by taking one lap of Forestview Natural Area then out to the Pere Marquette Rail Trail — head northwest (left) for another 1.3 miles through the rustic trails of the Averill Preserve and ending at the parking lot. Want to go farther? Make it back to the Forestview parking lot and take another loop in Forestview to complete a 10K at 6.62 miles.
Need a pit stop? Start at Forestview Natural Area, take a loop through the trails then head south on the Pere Marquette rail trail ending at Dublin Ave. Treat yourself to cottage creamery or a brew at Midland Brewing Company because you just completed a 5K run! Double back to complete a 10K.
Live near Sanford Lake area? Using the Rail Trail at Sanford Staging Area to Averill Preserve for a loop of the rustic trails and finish in the Averill parking Lot for a 5K, or head back to Sanford to complete a 10K.
Riverview Natural Area has the downside of being secluded on the other side of the river, however, the total trail system is approximately 4 miles. Riverview can have the hazard of exposed roots on the trail, wet spots and two stairways so definitely go for a hike before you start your running regime. The Blue Loop is approximately 1 mile and can be completed three times for a 5K. Ready to take on a 10K? Starting from the parking lot run out to the north trail, (warning there are stairs) Complete the north loop three times and head back to the parking lot for a 10K. Until boardwalks are completed the North trails can be very wet and muddy in the early spring but dry in early June.
Feeling like you can take on the world with a half marathon? Start at the Tridge and go towards Averill Preserve. Do a loop and head back to the Tridge for about 13.25 miles!