Sunday, July 31, 2011

Brady's Run Park (Beaver Co.)

If you live up this way or happen to find yourself about an hour north of Pittsburgh, settled right between Route 51 and I-376 is Brady's Run Park.  A nice pond in the valley of two steep slopes makes for a nice setting if you're in the mood for some tough climbs and occasionally confusing trails. 

Here's the trail map.

The Brady's Run Trail (including both North and South) offers about 6.25 miles of nice singletrack, with some random roads and doubletrack thrown in here and there.  The map recommends a clockwise loop for mountain bikers, but after running it in both directions I think I'd advocate the opposite for runners.  Not only is it easier to find the initial trailhead for the North trail, but if you're willing to push through two serious, if short, ascents, you will be repaid with some very fun, slightly more gradual, meandering descents.

Here's the route I took second time around, parking at the ice rink and starting from the small parking lot just across Brady's Run Rd. from there (the trailhead is to the left if you're standing in the lot, uphill into the woods):

Unfortunately you won't see much of the lake on this trail, except at times from a distance.  You will see two annoying sections of seemingly endless switchbacks, one on each side, but I guess that's better than taking these hillsides straight-on (although you will do that, too, in places).  You will also see some minor creek crossings and and a few fallen trees, but no serious obstacles.

About a mile in you'll come up behind a baseball field and the trail will dump you out on the road.  I'm not actually sure that I took the right trail from there, but I just sort of wandered across the road and back into the woods where it looked worn and followed it, but whether it was the right trail or not, who cares.  It got me to the back of the lake, where I was able to again cross Brady's Run Rd. to get on the South Trail.

All in all this park reminds me a bit of Riverview: nice trails, but steep in some sections and confusing in others.  I wouldn't drive an hour out of your way to run here, but if you happen to find yourself within 20 minutes or so of the park, it's definitely worth exploring.  Here's the elevation profile for the counter-clockwise loop:

Based on that alone, it may not look any easier taking it one direction or the other, so all I can say is that I enjoyed it more running it in reverse.

One tip: next time I find myself here on a hot day, I'll definitely start at the west end of the lake, so I can end my run in the water instead of the radiating heat of an asphalt lot.

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