Connecticut Trail running, where it all began for me! I was born and raised in Connecticut and the trails there will always hold a special place in my heart. There are so many great trail races there with the most recent one that I have raced being the Traprock 50k. One of my most memorable CT races is the Nipmuck Trail Marathon!
What are some of the popular trail races in Connecticut?
Most of the Connecticut trail races are very low key with a great post race vibe. Plan on socializing after the race and most events offer great post race food! The Connecticut trail running scene is pretty awesome and very friendly!
Are there scary critters there? What is Connecticut trail running like?
Connecticut has bear, copperhead snakes, timber rattle snakes and ticks that can carry Lyme Disease. The snakes do frequent certain parts of the state and seem to prefer sunny ledges. I spent most of my life living in Connecticut and have seen plenty of large poisonous snakes but they have never been aggressive. I have also had Lyme disease twice and was fortunate to have full recoveries.
The trails are great! They are a nice mix of hills, rocks and roots! Connecticut does have fairly technical trails and most areas have traprock which can be very slippery when wet. There are a lot of hard wood forests which are pretty cool because you can see so far in the woods! The ridges in Connecticut offer wonderful views that seem to go on forever!
Connecticut has short winters and it makes for great trail running almost all year long! The winter can provide some fun snow running while early spring and late fall tend to be some of the nicest times to get out for a run! Summers are always nice too! Some of my favorite places to run are Case Mountain,Penwood state forest,Meshomasic and the Natchaug forest.
Is it expensive? Do campgrounds exist? What is the easiest way to get to CT.
Connecticut can be expensive but it does not have to be. There are many options for spending the night and there are some areas that allow camping although most are RV style campgrounds. You can easily find good food near any bigger town and the variety available is endless! Connecticut is crowded so don’t plan on having the place all to yourself but if you venture out far enough you will probably see fewer and fewer people.
Connecticut is easy to reach if you live anywhere in New England. There are several major highways and various forms of transportation. Bradley International airport is very convienent and most airlines will fly into the airport. It is the easiest airport to get in and out of!
Are dogs allowed on the trails? What is the best way to find information on trails for Connecticut trail running?
Dogs are allowed on the trails but most places require them to be on a leash. You will need to check each individual area regarding rules on dogs. There are many multi-use trails with mountain bikers and horses so make sure your pups are used to them. Some areas have issues with Coyotes attacking dogs so you will want to either avoid those locations or keep your pup on a leash.
The internet has wonderful information on trails in CT. There is also a great book which has a guide to all the blue blazed trails in Connecticut. There are several running clubs within the state that you could reach out to as well! I used to belong to the Shenipsit Striders and they are very welcoming to everyone!
I may be biased but I highly recommend visiting Connecticut for a trail run! Signing up for one of the many races is a fabulous way to explore new trails and meet some of the local runners! They are some of the best people I know and when you are racing in CT you will feel the energy that they exude! I have never done a race anywhere else where the other runners are so upbeat and excited to cheer you on whether you are in the front, middle or back of the pack.
We love St John trail running! Sadly the island got slammed with two hurricanes in the fall and is still recovering. The campground at Cinnamon bay was by far the nicest place on the island and we hope that they rebuild it. Kenny Chesney has set up a foundation to help raise money to help rebuild the island and it is awesome to see him bring so many people together to help repair the broken island.
I love so many things about St John, my favorite being the incredible trails, the awesome people the low key vibe, the beautiful snorkeling and beaches! There is something special about that island.
What are the trails like? Are there dangerous creatures are there? What is the weather like?
The trails are amazing! They are rugged, steep and fun! The offer wonderful views and you can run through lush forests and arid desert. The Trail Bandit map is pretty sweet and will help guide you through over 30 miles of trail!
There really are not any dangerous creatures on the island. You will see donkeys, goats, iguana, lizards, hermit crabs, mosquitos, snakes and cats. There are some to watch out for in the water such as jelly fish, sea urchins, barracuda and nurse sharks. (The worse we experienced was being stung by a jellyfish)
The weather is hot, it typically rains for a few minutes at night. It is not very windy so the camping can be quite muggy. We just leave the fly off of the tent and use the tarp for shade and rain protection. The sun is very bright so be sure to bring good sunglasses and sunblock!
Which side of the road do they drive on? Is there camping? Are there flights that go to the island?
Driving is done on the left side of the road even though the steering wheel is on the left side of the car. The roads are very steep with a lot of twists and turns. It is a very easy island to navigate so you won’t have to worry about getting lost.
There was camping and hopefully will be again. Cinnamon Bay was the nicest campground! They had very nice outside showers with private stalls and clean toilets and sinks. The campsites all had cooking grates and fire rings. They were very well kept and I highly suggest bringing a tarp or buying one while you are out there to hang over your site as it does rain sometimes for a few minutes.
There are no flights to St John, you will have to fly to St Thomas and take a ferry. There are ferries that run from most of the islands in the area so fly into whichever is easier for you. The ferry ride is about 25 minutes. We typically rent a car in St Thomas to make things easier. There are two ferries that you can take. Currently you can only use the Red Hook Ferry as Charlotte Amalie is no longer running.
Is it expensive? Do you need a passport?
St John is located in the USVI. Hotels can be expensive but you can rent places for reasonable prices through AirBNB. I have not stayed at any of the hotels but most are located in Cruz Bay. Caneel Bay had a lovely resort but I have heard that they will not be rebuilding after the storm. The best meal I ever had was at ZoZo’s which was in Caneel Bay.
Expect to pay around $20-$60 for dinner (more in some of the fancy places). Lunch is typically $10-20 and we ate breakfast for $5 at the Starfish market. Drinks range from $5-12 unless you hit up one of the many happy hour specials which are between $1-5.
You do need to bring your passport for the return back to the United States. There was a very short and easy customs line and it did not take long to get into the terminal at the airport. Plan on being there 2-3 hours prior to your departure time. There is plenty of food inside the terminal.
Aside from St Johnntrail running are there other activities? Do they have trail races on the island?
There are so many different things to do on the Island! You can snorkel at one of the many beautiful beaches, take excursions to other islands, fish, relax on the beach, kite surf, sail, kayak, shop and so much more! It really is a place that has it all!
Something just felt right when I saw an ad for the Black Canyon 100k trail race. I wanted to know what trail running in Arizona was like! The photos looked amazing and it was a great time of year for escaping from the long winters of New Hampshire. The skiing is fun but it is also nice to go somewhere warm and feel the sun on my skin.
Unfortunately a muscle tear in my hip area turned into a huge pile of adhesions and sidelined me since October. I would get better, get worse, think I was healed and then realized I wasn’t. I thought I was in the clear until we did a hike on very unstable snow and two weeks before the race I was hobbling around in pain again. Being stubborn I went to the race and sadly dropped at mile 20.
It was motivation to finally fix this issue so I ruled out a stress fracture and saw two body work specialists where I experienced very painful massage, active release and dry needling along with chiropractic adjustments. I am feeling incredible now and wish I had gone sooner, although if I had been able to run I would never have taken up skimo so if I could turn back the clock I would not change a thing!
Arizona, this is probably my absolute favorite trail running destination so far! The race was in February and typically the temperatures are a bit warmer than we had but it was still wonderful! Normal daytime temperatures are in the 60’s with the night dipping into low 40’s. For us we had 30-40 degrees during the day, 20’s at night and a snowstorm (not typical)
We camped at the Bumble Bee Ranch in Mayer, Arizona. They were very nice there and the camping was in a small area that had nice bathrooms and showers. The race course literally passed by the camping area. It was a great place to spend a couple of nights.
The race was absolutely fabulous! Jamil Coury is the race director as well as the CEO for Aravaipa Running. This race was flawless, perfectly marked trails, excellent pre race information, enthusiastic volunteers, fully stocked aid stations and an incredible vibe! I actually enjoyed the race so much, even with a DNF that I plan to be back!
What is it like trail running in Arizona? What kind of scary animals are there? Is Arizona all desert, does it have trees? What does it feel like to run into a cactus?
Running in the desert is fun, there are killer views the whole time due to the lack of trees. The variety of cacti is really cool and the terrain is quite runnable. There are some technical sections but they are not too bad if you are used to running on rocks. The terrain is rolling and all runnable. I found it to be a great way to run a faster pace than I am used to in the White Mountains. I prefer running mountains but I also love to be able to stride out and feel my legs just go!
Scary animals…we did not see any but the biggest hazards are poisonous snakes, bears, mountain lions, scorpions, killer bees and other insects that pack a punch. We saw absolutely none of these and honestly, the only thing that hurt me was running into a cactus and that was not even too bad. Aside from the initial sting I had no idea that I had spines stuck in my leg until I felt something hanging off my leg and looked down. Pulling them out hurt more than getting stuck with them.
Arizona was really unique because it had so much variety! You could go to Flagstaff and run mountains (avalanche danger was very high so we did not tag the highpoint Humphreys Peak). Flagstaff had trees, mountains, snow and felt like home. Sedona had drier air and a mix of cacti, small trees and beautiful red rocks.
We also travelled to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and went down a few miles in the snow storm. It did end up clearing up and we had great views! I loved dropping down in the canyon and wished we had more time to explore the area. There were trees there and very cool rock features. The Lake Powell area was very desolate and pretty in it’s own way. I am not sure trail running here would be too pleasant due to very dry and sandy conditions. There was almost no plant life here but there were neat landmarks such as Antelope Canyon and Horshoe Bend.
February is a tough time of year to find open campgrounds and showers were even harder to come by. Unless you have an RV you are not welcome to shower in any of the year round campsites that offer showers. The national park campsites do offer coin operated showers. Expect to pay for a National Park Pass and a $35 campsite fee. Your National Park pass is good for 7 days so you will use it if you plan to see some sights.
To our surprise truck stop showers were the best find! For $12 you get to take a clean shower in a huge stall that you can lock the door and there is no time limit. Ryan and I took turns showering and were able to both take a shower for the $12. It was a bit sketchy but I would take a truck stop shower again!
Do not expect to be alone if you are doing any of the popular attractions such as the canyons, Horshoe Bend, etc. There were thousands of people, multiple tour busses and the bathrooms were so disgusting I preferred to “hold it” than use them. Even grocery store and gas station bathrooms were a disaster in the areas that offered more tourist type attractions.
The cost of visiting Arizona was reasonable. Camping ranged from $10-35 a night and they all had nice tent sites. Food was very affordable with the exception of Sedona which was much more expensive (plan to pay between $25-60 for dinner). Breakfast and lunch were very affordable as well (except for Sedona which ranged from $15-20). Sedona was beautiful and worth checking out. Due to the time of year only one campsite was open just outside of Sedona, during the peak season there are a lot more to pick from. We stayed at Manzanita campground and it was perfect!
Overall I would recommend visiting Arizona for a winter escape! The trail running is fun and the vibe in Arizona is really laid back! Don’t let the overdevelopment of Pheonix concern you when you land. It is a city, just like any other major US City. The airport is easy to get in and out of and you will have plenty of places to stay just outside of the airport.
The La Sportiva Lycan was the perfect shoe for running the trails in Arizona. It offered plenty of support and cushion while maximizing traction. The clothing was perfect for the variety of conditions we encountered! My Julbo Aerolite sunglasses with Spectron 3 lenses kept my eyes shaded from the sun, they are light and comfortable.
We plan to check out other parts of Arizona the next time we visit and can’t wait to share the experience! I wish we had more time to run in Flagstaff but there is always another time to explore! If you have any questions about our trip feel free to reach out!
Have you ever wondered what it is like running in the White Mountains of New Hampshire?
I might be biased but living in the White Mountains is nothing short of incredible! I have been to many places and the only place even remotely close to the trails and mountains in the Whites is Alaska. If you want to experience the hardest terrain in the country then you need to visit New Hampshire and check out our mountains!
What are the trails like? What kind of scary animals do you need to watch out for? Can you camp? Are there any races in the White Mountains?
The trails are loaded with rocks. Honestly, you will be speed hiking most of it and as a result you really should not attempt to actually run the White Mountains until you are comfortable running on technical trails. I started out by hiking the Whites and eventually transitioned to running them. The weather is unpredictable and the trails are very rugged and remote. Plan on the miles ticking by much slower than you are used to.
New Hampshire has bear, rare mountain lion sightings, moose (which are more dangerous than bear), black flies, mosquitos, deer flies and porcupine (more of a hazard for your curious pup)
There are some great races in the White Mountains and if the runners can help to keep the trails clean during the race and be respectful to hikers there will be more! Right now these are a few of the trail races in the White Mountains. They are all wicked fun and well organized!
Mount Chocorua Race- 14 mile course with a mix of smooth single track, steep slabs, slippery rocks, significant elevation gain, and killer views from the summit!
Kilkenny Ridge Race-a 26 mile traverse across the Kilkenny ridge which brings you to the top of two New Hampshire 4000 foot mountains. There is a 50 mile distance that will be an out and back on the ridge. A great mix of technical trails, great single track, summit views and beautiful forest!
Randolph Ramble-a 10 kilometer-long, rugged, self-supported trail race through the Great North Woods in the mountain town of Randolph, New Hampshire, at the base of the Northern Presidentials.
Kismet Cliff Run- a five-mile race that navigates the rollercoaster trails of Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges. A great mix of single track and double track with great views of Cathedral ledge and Echo Lake. There is also a half marathon that takes you over North Moat Mountain which offers incredible views and strenuous climbing!
White Lake Ultras – A 6, 12, and 24 hour loop course around White Lake. Not very techical but the 2.4 mile loop is very scenic and fun! Camping right at the start/finish.
Cranmore Mountain Race-This race offers great single track, ski trails and a very well organized event! It is about 6.2 miles long.
Loon Mountain race-Although this is not a technical course it is extremely steep and challenging with the Upper Walking Boss being the crux of the race. The course is 6.6 miles long. The views are incredible and it also serves as the mountain running championship race.
Is it expensive? Do you need special gear? What are the rules regarding dogs, trash, navigation in the White Mountains? Do you need permits?
New Hampshire is not very expensive to visit and there are many great places to get food and drinks. Our economy thrives on tourism so please visit the small local businesses! One of our favorites is Delaneys in North Conway because they serve food until 11pm, have awesome American style food and drinks and have incredible sushi! You can’t go wrong with so many places to pick from! Check out Peaches for breakfast, it is small but has wonderful breakfast food in a quaint setting!
You do not need special gear to run the mountains but you will want to carry more than you think you need. Plan to move around 2-3 miles an hour. 3-4mph is considered fast. Be respectful of hikers and always be a good ambassador! Most people will cheer you on and let you by if you are polite and give them plenty of notice that you are coming up on them.
I think the La Sportiva Akyra is the best shoe for the White Mountains. They offer killer traction and cushion. You want to have good traction. The rocks can be very slippery! I always carry a windbreaker with me and a light pair of gloves and a light hat. I have been in a snowstorm in the summer! It can be 80 degrees down low and 30 up high, if a thunderstorm creeps up on you there may even be hail.
You may want to cary a space blanket. Two liters of water is wise and a filter or life straw. I love the MSR Trail Shot! There are some great lightweight filters out there! Most water crossings are on maps but some routes can be very dry in the summer with very little to filter. I carry a mid size running pack in the summer and a bigger one in the winter.
Winter can be a challenge with water. Most water sources are frozen and bottles or packs can freeze. We use a Platypus to hold water inside our packs and place it against our back to keep it from freezing.
In the winter you will want a puffy jacket, hand warmers, warm mittens and hat and possibly an extra layer. Carry more food than you think you need. The huts have water and you can buy treats which can make you happy on a hot day or if you run out of food! Bring cash. The huts operate on a seasonal schedule so be sure to check to see if they are open.
You should always carry a map. If you plan on going above treeline it helps with finding bail out routes during bad storms or white out conditions.
The White Mountains live by a Leave No Trace Ethic. Please pack out everything including food scraps. There has been an issue over the last few years with trash and feces with toilet paper/baby wipes on the trail. Nobody needs to see that and the forest service is overwhelmed with trying to clean up the mess. If you have to relieve yourself and need to know the rules follow this link.
What is the Hike Safe Card? Are the mountains dangerous? Where can I find out about trail conditions and weather?
The Hike Safe Card is an affordable rescue insurance plan that you can buy. This is not going to cover being wreckless or negligence. You still need to carry the appropriate gear, adequate food and water, a map, etc. Cell phones do not work in most of the Whites so do not depend on that either.
You should never plan on a rescue and your goal should always be to get yourself out of a situation on your own. There are many organizations in New Hampshire that teach mountain skills and if you are not comfortable venturing into the mountains yet take a course! Remember each rescuer is a volunteer. The Forest Service is under funded and can’t afford to keep up with the number of rescues they have had to deal with over the last few years. Just be safe and take care of yourself and you will be fine!
There are some wonderful places to check the trail conditions and the weather. Here are my favorite websites:
NOAA Recreational Forecast:Short term detailed forecast for various elevations. Great for deciding which mountains to do based on winds, clouds and overall weather.
Higher Summits Forecast: This is perfect for the short term weather forecast on the higher summits. Best for summits over 5000 feet!
See the Northern Lights: Yes, you can see the northern lights in New Hampshire! The best times to see them are from late March-April and August-September
Best time to visit New Hampshire
The best time to visit New Hampshire is during the winter or summer. The shoulder seasons can be very icy and the mountains can hold onto the snow even into June and the snow and ice can start in September. There are only a couple of campgrounds open in the winter and many to choose from in the summer.
You should put a trip to the White Mountains on your bucket list! The trail races are a great way to follow a marked trail with aid stations so we hope you can come experience what the White Mountains have to offer!