Taking it Easy at Rabbit Hill Park

IMG_8678I went to a place that I’ve only heard mentioned on the news, Dacula Georgia. Turns out it’s really not too far, straight out 316 about 20 minutes from where I live. The 20 minutes was well worth the drive to experience Rabbit Hill Park.

IMG_8688The park is split and runs on both sides of Rabbit Hill Trail and hosts an abundance of amenities. In the evenings the entire park is in use. In the mornings, folks primarily make use of the trail and the dog park. What’s cool about the dog park is that it doesn’t allow for dogs and owners to mingle all willy-nlly. There are separate spaces for large and small dogs as well as a “dog run”.IMG_8916

The Trail
The park website indicates 2.65 miles of paved trail. Coming from Hurricane Shoals, this refers to the part of the park that is on the left, which includes the dog park and volleyball lots. The outer loop of the trail is 1.34 miles. The loop and the inner trails make up the the 2.65. I actually chose to run the 1.34 outer loop, crossed the street and looped around the basketball/baseball/lake side of the park which is about 1 mile with another 1/4 mile (approximate) around the lake. Whatever route you choose, it’s all pretty much smooth sailing.RabbitHilltrailmap(map courtesy of Gwinnett County Parks)

A few other notes on the trail to be mindful of: only the dog park side is marked, also both sides have stretches where there is no shade, i.e. you’ll cook but only briefly. Lastly neither side of the park is hilly, winding yes, some short inclines yes, but no hills. I’d say it’s perfect for getting in speedwork which I did see a guy doing but I didn’t photograph him as he was giving me side eye when we crossed paths earlier.

IMG_8951Overall Impression

I love this park. Rabbit Hill has something for just about everyone. After having completed Peachtree, I really wanted to go out and run for the joy of it and Rabbit Hill Park is a great place to run/walk/bike etc. and enjoy the sights. For more information on Rabbit Hill Park visit the website. For more photos, see the album on Google+.

Until next time see you on the trail.

Photos: MsThorns except where noted

Welcome Back to Lion’s Club Park

When I first discovered it about four years ago, it was closed, blocked off and pretty much in shambles.  I kept passing by and in 2013 saw that it was being renovated and shaping up to be nothing like that first visit. The place had been gutted with signs of life appearing that looked very much like many of Gwinnett’s other great parks. This past weekend, on a quest for the next park to try, I found an article about a re-opening. Woo-hoo! Lion’s Club Park had re-opened so I had to go check it out.
Lion’s Club Park in Lilburn, Georgia received a $5.3 million overhaul and was re-opened in February 2014. By Memorial weekend 2014, residents were taking full advantage of its amenities which include: a baseball complex with five lighted ball fields, 1,800-square-foot concession/restroom building, plaza, batting cages, 60-foot pavilion area, maintenance building, more than 850 parking spaces, paved trail system with benches, adult swings and shelters. (Amenities listing courtesy of the Gwinnett Daily Post. The county’s website has not been updated as of this writing).
The Trail
The trail is paved, circles the park and is a short but challenging .77 miles.  From the parking area at the main entrance headed toward Rockbridge is all downhill. There’s a brief flat area on the back end near the furthest baseball field and then it’s back uphill to the starting point.  There are no mile markers, which is okay given the distance.  Additionally since this park is basically new, there are mostly new trees, meaning that shade is limited and located in the back of the park by the residential entrance and the front main entrance. Runners, walkers and other sportos should get there EARLY to avoid getting baked.
The Fork
Now if a quick 3 miles is all you want, circle the park 4 times for a near 5K or, at the bottom on Rockbridge stay left at the fork, pass under Rockbridge and enter the Camp Creek Greenway — Glorious!  Not available until this year, the Lion’s Club Park Trail now feeds into the Greenway.  A potential long route is to loop around Lion’s Club Park onto the Greenway, through Lilburn Park, onto the Greenway offshoots and back, which is some nice mileage with a mix of scenery, inclines and flats. I chose a “tweener” route by taking one loop around Lion’s Club Park over to the Greenway, circling Lilburn Park and coming back to Lion’s Club which was a bit over 4 miles.DSCN7855
The new Lion’s Club Park is a great neighborhood park for families, fitness enthusiasts and baseball/softball fans with the bonus of a feeder trail system. If you’re in the area or are from Lilburn and remember how the park was, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what the park has become.
Until next time, see you on the trail where I’ll be getting my running legs back. 🙂
Photos: MsThorns

An Old Best Friend

IMG_7407 (2) (1280x999)I moved to Atlanta from New Orleans.  For my two years as a resident I had the joy of running through Audubon Park, a fast, beautiful shaded 1.8 mile trail near campus and my apartment.  Coming to Atlanta was a rude for me as a runner, having started running through the flatness of Indiana, then in NOLA, I was dismayed with the hills of this new locale.  Just the same I was determined to resume running somewhere and enlisted my BFF to find me a suitable park . That first park was Best Friend Park.  Located off Jimmy Carter Boulevard in Norcross, Georgia, Best Friend at that time (21 years ago) was more about hoops than it was about running and walking.  Just the same, I gave the park a whirl found it less than desirable.  I don’t believe that the trail was even finished at that time.

Having run most of the parks in my area over the last few years,  I recently headed back to Best Friend.  Entering from Jimmy Carter and heading back toward the giant powerlines leads straight to the beginning of the trail. What I saw was a pleasant surprise, nothing at all like I remembered.

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The trail starts on top of a slight hill, winds down and back up near the tennis center.  There’s a pedestrian crossing at that point as there is an entrance on that side.  The trail continues past a field up another slight hill,  curves around and ends back at the trail start.  The trail is listed at .75 miles and it goes fairly quickly since it’s not hilly.  The shade is adequate on the back side, but I imagine it may be pretty hot during the summer as you’re making the loop around back to the start as there are no trees on that portion of the trail.

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The Best Friend Park paved trail is a great, short trail that would be good for days when you don’t want to do anything long or difficult or if you want to do some speedwork amongst the trees in lieu of a track.  If you’re in the area, check it out hopefully you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I.

Until next time, see you on the trail, where you will not EVER find ME doing speedwork. 🙂

photos: MsThorns

Run The Reagan 2013

My first Run the Reagan was going to be cold. A good thing for runners especially old broads prone to hot flashes at any moment.  Standing and  waiting to start the race is really the only hard part about cold weather racing.  Race volunteers however helped us stay warm by encouraging us to dance to the music. In fact upon arrival, runners and the emcee were doing The Wobble.image

About the Race(s)
There were four races for Run The Reagan, a half Marathon, 10k, 5k and 1 mile fun run.  Here’s how the 10k went down.


As we waited to start a strong wind gust took down the start line sign-age,  bringing audible gasps and laughs from the crowd. Adept and ready volunteers were right on the spot, getting the sign-age back up promptly without interfering with the start time.  At 9:15 am, 15 minutes after the half Marathon, we took off.


The Course
All four races were out and back with the 10k turnaround at Five Forks Trickum. Reagan Parkway isn’t really steep but on foot the ascents are a long drawn out affair. In spite of that miles 1 through 3 were nice and fairly brisk. Mile 4 marked the end of nice.  In fact, mile 4 to 5 was one long slog uphill. I lost a couple of my pacers in that stretch and was praising God Almighty once I got to the top. The remaining mile or so was mercifully flat with a downhill finish. My friend who was running the 5k cheered me across the finish line which was really cool 🙂

Final Impressions
Run the Reagan is a well oiled machine. The location is great and the course is challenging without being killer.  The time of year is favorable for PRs and the volunteer staff, especially the young folks, were energetic, knowledgeable and efficient. As such, I highly recommend this race as good start to your outdoor running season here in the metro.

For more information on Run the Reagan please visit their website. For more of my photos see this Google+ album.

Until next time, see you on the trail!


Takes Your Breath Away, Rock Springs Park

After the running FAIL at Peachtree Ridge Park, I didn’t rest until I had an opportunity to try another park.  The destination this time, Rock Springs Park in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

The Park
Per the Gwinnett Parks and Recreation website, Rock Springs Park features the following: 113 acres, football field with lighted walking track, six lighted tennis courts, playground, pavilion, restrooms, 2-mile paved, multi-purpose trail and grill.
One thing of note that I’ve not seen at other parks is that there is a recycling bin in the lot near the pavilion and playground for bottles and cans, which is fantastic and I hope will get implemented in other county parks.

The Trail
Before heading down into the the trail I stopped a couple of ladies and asked them how hard the trail was. Here’s the conversation:

Lady 1: “oh you’ll love it it’s beautiful.” 
Lady 2: “no you didn’t hear her, she said how hard is it?”
Lady 1: “are you walking or running?”
Me: “running”
Lady 1: “oh it’s pretty hard then there are some hills”
Lady 2: “it may be okay for you just hard for somebody who hasn’t worked out in a while”

Lady 2 proceeded to ask me if I wanted to leave a number just in case I had problems. I told her, no thank since my shoe is tagged with emergency information.  I should have known after this conversation that this run would challenging, but the hard-headed runner had a score to settle.  I wasn’t about to let another trail beat me.

So I did my warm up (always a quarter mile walk) and headed straight uphill. Upon reaching the top I ran out of trail but ended up by the football field. Heading back was only a brief respite as the steepness going up meant I would be “putting on brakes” on the way down.  Continuing on the downhill to my original starting point and beyond, was more of a downhill, back towards some water.  There was plenty to view on the trail but not enough to make me forget about how hard it was.  After few rough downhills it was time to make the ascent out. I don’t remember any normal breathing at all during the entire run which ended up at 3.25 miles.  The website indicates the trail is 2 miles, it’s actually 2.25 starting from the football field entrance.

Rock Springs Park is a great place for four things, children’s play (they have a really nice playground), tennis, football and of course the trail.  Though this trail is really challenging, it’s a good test of fitness, that I’d recommend in anyone’s running or walking program.  However to prevent entry I wouldn’t recommend it more than once a week.

Fore more information on Rock Springs Park or other parks in Gwinnett County Georgia, please be sure to visit the Parks and Recreation website.
Until next time see you on the trail.

Bunten Road Park, Duluth GA

It’s been a very mild winter in Georgia and having a weekend off I had a bit of time to go and look for another park.  Because I didn’t want to drive too far in Gwinnett I turned to one of the city maintained parks in the area that was relatively close by, Bunten Road Park in Duluth.

Bunten Road Park is a 45 acre neighborhood park with baseball, softball and soccer fields and tennis courts.  A nice feature of the park is a fairly sizeable community center with a meeting space, aerobics room and gym which had a basketball game in progress.  I was thankful that it was open considering that nature called and I hate using park bathrooms.  Of course all of this is well and good, but I came here for one thing…
The trail.
The trail loop is a fast 1.08 miles.  The wooded portion of the trail is really curvy but the distance of those curves is really short.  That curvy portion also contains the only hill.  Even with the wind whipping that day I had no problem covering it, in fact this turtle felt pretty fast on this course.
Overall Bunten Road Park is a nice well-maintained park with a trail that is perfect for short (5k) training runs.  If you’re in Duluth I suggest you give it a whirl.
See you on the trail.
For more photos, see the Bunten Road Park Album on Google+.

George Pierce Park/Suwanee Greenway

I knew it was my last one until November (ragweed sucks) but I’m so glad I got this one in. 

Since I was going to be in the area, I came geared up and ready to run in George Pierce Park.  A huge park in the Gwinnett part of Suwanee was a good one to go to.  On this particular Saturday I ran right smack into the Suwanee Fall Festival on the square, but once through the traffic I made it the park. 

George Pierce Park features all the typicals but on a grand scale.  Multiple baseball, football and softball fields, a senior center, basketball court, pavillions and playgrounds.  In fact the park is so big that I didn’t get to see it all and with darkness approaching quickly I had to stop the tour in order to get the run in.

The Trail
Or should I say trails, there are multiple ones.  The main paved trail loops around a couple of football fields and is a little over a mile long and slightly, not overly hilly.  After running the mile loop twice, I made a turn down hill and ran right on to the Suwanee Greenway which was a treat that wasn’t expected.  

Suwanee Greenway runs between two parks, George Pierce in Suwanee and Suwanee Creek in Buford and is a whopping 9.5 miles of basically flat, fast tree covered running/walking/biking excellence.  The trail is concrete and wooden with several diversions along the way that allow great views of the wetlands and wildlife.

George Pierce is a great park for families and sports enthusiasts and families, but is it’s connection to the Suwanee Greenway that puts sends it right to the top of my list for great places to run in Gwinnett.
See you on the trail!
(because fall pollen season is over :-))

For more photos, see the Picasa album (taken the night of the run and the next day).

Jones Bridge Park

In between the 4:00 and 8:30 pm games I ducked out briefly out of curiosity. Having scanned my park map earlier in the day.  I went looking for something close by. Not as close as I thought but worth the trip I headed over to Jones Bridge Park.

The park, is nestled in the Jones Bridge area of Norcross has some different amenities than than some of the others, and some of these amenities were closed. The park is an area in which there are periodic releases of flows from he Chattahoochee River and there is ample signage to let folks know about so that they aren’t swept away when they come.  Here in the metro, every summer there are televised rescues of folks from the different parts of the Chattahoochee where flows are being releases so the signs are definitely appropriate.

Features include, children’s playground, soccer fields (closed), sand lot volleyball, a large pavilion senior center.  The park is also a great place for fishing and family barbecue, and there was plenty of both activities going on even at near dusk.

The trail.  

There is None. There are plenty of natural foot made paths throughout the wooded areas and designated walking paths to get to the fishing areas, but a paved trail is non-existent.  

As always I’ve never been to a park that I didn’t like.  Jones Bridge is no exception. If you want to hangout with friends and family or go fishing, this is a beautiful park to do so.  If you want to do any running or walking for fitness, blaze your own trail if you must.  I’ll be hanging out at the barbecue while you do.

See you on the trail.

For more information on Jones Bridge Park, check it out on the web.
For additional photos. See the set on Google+.

Club Drive Park, Lawrenceville Georgia

After a day in the house feeling a little sluggish and in need of some air and some people.  I headed out to a place I’d passed several times before, Club Drive Park.

Situated on Club Drive in Lawrenceville GA the park features all of the usual park type stuff only on a smaller scale than others I’ve visited and run in Gwinnett County.  Notably absent at Club Drive are tennis courts, and a baseball/softball diamond.  Additionally there is only one basketball court which is divided into two half courts with benches in between for dudes “who got next” and spectators.  

The children’s playground is really one of the highlights of the park, as it is LARGE.  Even in this late summer evening heat, it was packed with  children and parents enjoying themselves. Another highlight is the lake.  Which features wooden walkways and covered and uncovered seating to enjoy the sites and sounds of the park or anything else you might want to do.  

Now for what I go to each of these parks for, the trail.

The trail is paved, flat and fast, however it is SHORT .3 miles. I would only recommend runners come here during off-peak times (late morning, mid-day) and when it is not swelteringly hot outside.  This is great place to do speed work (I don’t do it anymore) but if you do, it’s perfect.  Long runs are not recommended, you’ll simply have to run around too many times to get any miles in.

There’s really no park that I don’t like and Club Drive Park isn’t bucking that trend.  For families, for folks who want to chill and read or watch the ducks and geese and for speed freaks, Club Drive is the place to be.  If you’re in the area, check it out.  Until next time, see you on the trail.

For more photos, go here.