Trail Running: Pocahontas State Park

I’ve taken you to the James River Park System trails in an earlier post, dreamed with you about the potential Ashland to Petersburg trail, and have shared on my Instagram all the cute little trails in the Town of Ashland. Now let’s begin to explore some other trail systems in the metro Richmond area!

With Virginia starting Stage 1 of its reopening process in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak, I think even more people will take to the great outdoors for exercise. In fact, gyms can officially conduct small, outdoor classes now!

On Friday, I joined my husband at his CrossFit box for a workout. We did Karen, which is 150 wall balls for time. This WOD appropriately has the same name as a noisy, entitled white woman… and my quads still hate me for doing this workout.

That evening, my sole sisters decided we should hit the trails Saturday. So Pocahontas State Park it was. I was actually grateful to mix it up a bit; my long run day is typically Sunday, and my trail shoes are fresh, unlike my road shoes! It’s been ages since I’d run with anyone, especially more than one person. We kept our distance, but it was still so great to see friends!

Pocahontas State Park is in south Chesterfield County. It’s almost 8,000 acres with two lakes and over 64 miles of trails! It was once the largest State Park in Virginia. There is a parking/admission fee of $5 per vehicle, and at this time, the public restrooms are closed, although they do have porta potties. There is also no camping, and the pool will remain closed this summer, all due to the pandemic. But I’m grateful the park is still open!

Shortly after finishing our last leg of Ragnar, April 2017, with most of our team, Pretty in Pink! It was SOOOO HOT!

Now, the last time I really ran at Pocahontas was back in April 2017 for the Ragnar trail event. It was the weekend after I chose to go vegan. It was also a weekend of hot, humid days and limited sleep. Who ever heard of 97 degrees and 87% humidity in the middle of April in Virginia? That’s August weather! Ragnar was a one and done event for me. I still shudder at the memories from my night run where I didn’t see a soul for over a mile and was certain I’d lost the trail. And did I mention the commotion that unfolded in front of me because of my headlamp? The light attracted moths. The moths attracted bats. And there’s nothing quite like bats flying into your face at 2:30 in the morning while you are running technical trails!

This is the bridge leading to the Swift Creek trails.

Even with all of those memories flooding back, we had a nice run! We had planned 7 miles, but it got hot quickly, and we were all pretty much done after about 4.5 miles. The trails we used were not the single track bike trails we were on for Ragnar, but the Swift Creek trails and fire roads on the other side of the park. But they were lovely and hilly with nice views of the water and wildlife. There are enough trails here to make a day of it if you are doing some serious training for an ultra, for instance!

On one of the trails!
There were a couple of creek crossings. So pretty!
Thanks to Patty for taking this picture of me on a giant rock on the trail!

The most startling surprise we encountered Saturday? Snakes. We saw 4 on our run. The first was a copperhead who seemed to be guarding the trail entrance. Two of my friends ran right past it! It almost looked like a pile of leaves, but then its head moved! We also saw 3 black snakes, one of which crossed the trail right in front of us! But we left them all alone. After all, we were visitors in their home. They were probably not prepared to see so many people after reduced human traffic for so long. So be prepared for some company on the trails if you venture out!

This beauty was guarding the trail entrance! This was taken with a heavy zoom…. you do NOT want to get bitten by one.
One of the three black snakes we encountered. These are good, non-venomous snakes who keep the rodent population under control. They also love chicken eggs… my husband is quite the snake wrangler and used to pull them out of the chicken coop for me when we kept chickens.

If your runs need some mixing up, try venturing out to the trails and taking in some nature! As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, SPIbelt, Goodr, Noxgear, and Switch4Good.

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