A running club with weekly Group Runs in Aurora, IL., Montgomery, IL. and Oswego, IL.
New trails! What sort of imagery do those words bring to your mind? Shady paths under trees? Maybe a little mud or grass? Or is it just a vague impression of a chance to explore?
Well, thanks to Google satellite view and a few hours of walking, you do not have to rely on imagery alone. I’ve hunted down and drawn out routes for 4 new trails for our running club. I’ve got a nice set of photos to whet your appetite. I couldn’t figure out how to do multiple galleries (grrrr) so they are all at the end. Take a moment to look through them and you’ll get to see the lion (yes, that says ‘lion’) I encountered coming around a bend. It’s a good thing I’ve been running so much!
The new routes are- Mastodon Lake at Phillips Park, Aurora, IL., Prairie Path Wetlands, Aurora, IL., Saw Wee Kee Park, Oswego/Yorkville, IL., and Meridian Lakes, Aurora, IL. All four places will be a great addition to the choices for our running club’s group runs. Here’s a breakdown of each one.
A very handy trail around the fittingly named Mastodon lake where a number of mastodon bones were dug up in 1930’s. It is a paved bike path style around the lake, but you can also run a short crushed limestone trail through the center island. Along the path are strength-training stations that use your body-weight for resistance. These can be very handy if you want to mix things up and do a short 1 mile run and cross-train on the machines.
This trail tends to get crowded and is used by many families and children so a quick reminder on trail etiquette is in order.
*Run in single file any time the trail is busy. If running two abreast, be ready to move to the right quickly.
*If you wear headphones, it is highly suggested to only put one side on so you hear the people around you.
*Pass other trail users on the left. Use your judgement and say “Passing” or “On the left” if there is not much room to pass.
*The person moving the fastest is the one responsible for getting out of the way. Be ready to adjust to walkers, joggers and children; they likely are not ready for you.
I hope all of you will enjoy running here as much as I did discovering it. When I saw the paths on google maps, and then the title “Prairie Path Woodland Swamp County Forest Preserve” I was like, “Whatever! Aurora doesn’t have any swamps.” . The view made it look like a nice little secluded trail though, so I set off the check it out.
While it was decidedly un-swampy (likely due to the drought) it was easy to see that this is an area where water does indeed show the power it has in promoting life. Despite the drought, all plant life was abundant. I am not over-exaggerating when I say that around every bend in the path I would come across a new type of plant. I saw multiple species that I’ve never seen before. If you ever have a kid who needs to collect plants for a project, take them here. They will get a double A+.
There are a lot of plants is what I’m saying. So many that even the air in the area was unique. It held a light, fresh, floral scent that was particular refreshing after the recent mugginess everywhere. I cannot imagine how lovely this place must be right after the spring rains.
The actual trail is also a change of pace. It starts off as crushed limestone through light woods, then opens up into a wide mown-grass path through the wetlands. If you happen to be a practitioner of barefoot running, this would be an excellent trail to ditch the shoes on. I was feeling hot halfway around it… something to due with it being 12:30pm and 95 out I guess, so I took off my shoes and let the grass massage my feet for the rest of the walk.
This is a ‘park’ that is more like a forest preserve. It also contains the most technical trails in the area and possibly in Chicagoland. How can a trail be that technical? When it is actually a mountain biking trail! Saw Wee Kee is a local hot-spot for mountain bikers who have been considerate enough to blaze out dozens of trails for us. While many of the trails are not suitable for actual -running- there are some which are mostly flat or lightly rolling. The trail with more hills will be great for some specialized routines that I am working up. Don’t feel that you have to be an expert runner to come out to this park though. There are ways for a beginner to handle even rough terrain while still getting in a good workout.
There are special considerations for etiquette and technique on these types of trails which are important enough to merit their own article. I’ll be publishing it sometime between now and our first run at Saw Wee Kee. Please make sure you read it over so we are all on the same page.
No photos of this place, unfortunately, but likely you’ve been past it tons of times already. It’s that road that runs between Commons and Rt 59 that has all the trees. You know, piles of trees where you really weren’t expecting them eg: right by the mall. This is an example of how to mix nature in with modern progression. Someone 30, maybe even 50 years ago decided to invest in preparing something great for the future and planted hundreds of trees along the roads of an office campus. And not just that single line of trees you see most developments plant. They planted blocks of trees three to five across and dozens long. I always feel peaceful driving through here, even though it is nothing but traffic all around.
As a bonus for us, that means this place is -shady-!
OK, that’s it for breakdowns. For maps, see our Regular Routes page. Which route are you looking forward to running? Have you run any of them before?