One of my friends was complaining to me this week that she has barely enough room to run some days because of all these “summer warriors” who only run outside in the summer. They take up all her trails and bring their dogs and walk, etc. and get in her way….. She asked me – “what should I do about these people”? This is what I told her:
The summer can be a busy time on the trails and paths in parks, forests and protected areas. People are suddenly wanting to get into shape and they flock to these places to walk, hike, road bike, etc. What should people do so that they are not stuck in slow snaking lines in hot weather?
1) Go to the trails at off hours. Try to get there early when the park opens to beat the crowd and heat. Try to get there after dinner before the park closes, although this would be the second option over morning. If you get there at 10:00 AM on a Saturday, the whole world will be coming over the next few hours.
2) Find trails less traveled in your ‘home’ park. In most parks there are labeled trails with markers in color. If you know from past experience that the yellow trail at a particular park is nice and wide but heavily traveled, go to the blue trail which may be narrower and less traveled.
3) Find parks/trails that are further away. Here in northern NJ, the parks closest to NYC are always busy in the summer. As you go out further west and north, they get less crowded. It may require some research and driving time, but you should be happier.
4) Look at park calendars for events. If there is some event going on such as a 5K or a food truck festival, odds are that there will be too many people and you can avoid those days (more people on the trails and less parking are not a good combo). Every park usually has a calendar of events and you should consult it before you go.
5) Think out of the box. Some of the best trails are on old mansions or places that are not so obvious but are open to the public. Again, do some research on this.
6) If trails are too busy, find ‘roads less traveled’ – some small neighborhood streets may do the trick in a pinch…..
As you do go on trails, please be careful to bring enough fluids and be careful not to get lost. Also, please obey the signs if the trail you are on is crossing private property. Watch for roots and things that can get you hurt – a twisted ankle 5 miles away from the parking lot is not fun. Above all, try not to go by yourself – for all the reasons mentioned it would be safer with a buddy or a small group.
Have fun out there and happy running.