By Anna Ratliff
Trail running is a way for me to escape the traffic, let my mind relax, and enjoy the mountains at my doorstep. Summer is especially a great time to trail run because trails frequently offer an escape from the heat. Some of my most liberating runs have been during rainstorms, but an all-time favorite was a night run my friend and I took to go watch the full moon rise.
Dog Lake is a lush, woodsy trail up Millcreek ending in a small mountain lake. The night of the full moon, my friend and I donned our headlamps and hit the trail, passing the descending hikers on our way up. The temperature was low, no snakes were near us, and we had glimpses of the setting sun as we headed up. I was grateful I had a small water bottle, but the trail was easy enough we didn’t need energy snacks.
The relaxing, dim atmosphere was a nice change from the blaring sun we’d been in all day. And the real reward was watching the magnificent, orange moon rise above the treetops encircling the lake. Overall, the run was brief, neither of us was in a hurry to get up or down, and we were able to indulge in the scenery and temperatures.
Another favorite trail of mine is Bell’s Canyon. Recently, during the long-craved rainstorm after 4th of July, I headed up for another evening run. The evening and rain kept the trail unusually empty, and the chance to escape the smoky valley was great. The waterfall at the top is always a satisfying destination. Although the trail is very rocky further up, it offers a great workout. I felt like I was in the northwest because the fresh rain left the forest vibrant and humid.
I highly recommend trail running during the warmer season. Carrying water and some emergency fuel is smart, especially on a new trail. Be prepared with sunscreen, bug spray, and even pepper spray. Occasionally I’ll wear a hat or bring a small towel. I find trail running is an easy way to explore new canyons, try out a trail for a future buddy run, and escape the monotony habitual runs can bring. Also, it’s a good idea to look at the trail online before your run, and let others know where you’re headed and when you expect to be back, since many trails don’t get great reception. With these things in mind, don’t be scared to run a new trail, even if you end up walking most of it. Either way, you’ll receive a hard workout and the benefit of beautiful scenery.
Dog Lake: head up Millcreek Canyon, 3800 south. The trailhead is about 7.5 miles up, the last half on a single lane paved road. If the parking lot is full, overflow is located up the road.
Bell’s Canyon: at the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon, located on Little Cottonwood Canyon Road and just off of Wasatch Blvd., about 9600 south. There’s a trailhead with bathrooms and a drinking fountain.