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.
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!