#WellnessWednesday: Enjoy the Devou Park Backcountry Trails
One of my favorites here in Northern Kentucky is the Devou Park Trails. It’s a fantastic system which offers a variety of trail options, including paved walking and bike trails, nature trails, and trails specifically catered to off-road cyclists. Apart of this trail system is the backcountry trail which I enjoy running and hiking quite extensively due to it being near my studio in Ludlow, Ky and, well, I think John Picklesimer does an excellent job of explaining the backcountry trail below:
This is the marquee trail system in the greater Cincinnati Area. You’ll find a combination of super flowy-bermy-jumpy-pumpy singletrack with some modern day tight and twisties. There are three 200+ vertical foot drops/climbs clocking in just under a mile per. There are four to six other 100+ vertical foot drops/climbs clocking in between 1/4 and 1/2 mile. There are road crossings and some pavement one will need to venture on to link up all the trails. This place is sweet!
John is correct on so many levels about his description of the trail. The Devou Park backcountry trails are quite phenomenal as I am always a supporter of dashing through the trail’s switchbacks. 🙂
With the use of the map below, you can get a pretty good idea where the backcountry trails begin (upper left corner of map) and are in proximity to the rest of the park and its trails. Don’t worry. There is plenty to see and do at Devou Park as it covers 703-acres and is always being further enhanced.
This past Monday, I had the opportunity to get out to the backcountry trails in between personal training clients where my legs quickly reminded me of just how steep the incline was in some areas. Now, this particular trail is loved by many, especially the mountain bike community. I on the other hand love running the trails.
The weather was fantastic on this day. The trail was beautiful as everything sprang to life. My studio is no more than a mile away, so there is no reason for me to drive there. As I reached the parking lot, I realized just how beautiful of a day it was as cars sat side-by-side along the tree line. Each was securing a bike rack located on the roof or dangling from their trunk. The mountain bikers were loving it just as much as I.
As I proceeded forward, I did so with caution as I was aware that there would be many mountain bikers. I just was unsure of how many. As a trail runner, I am aware of some trail etiquette between runners and hikers but had never thought about trail etiquette if I were to run into a mountain biker. For me, I typically step to the side and allow the other individual to pass as a sign of respect.
Throughout my run on the backcountry trails, I only ran into a few cyclists and another trail runner but not as many as I had expected. Each time an individual and I passed, you could tell how much we loved the weather. Our endorphins were raging. Though we passed one another silent, yet out of breath from the quick ascents and descents, we each gave a head nod of acknowledgment. We knew deep down what that head nod meant. It was a sign of respect. It was a sign to keep on crushing it. It was a sign of, “hey, enjoy the rest of your trail and beautiful day.”
As I ran the course, I kept an ear open for the quick changing of gears and an eye out for any quick movement around the corner or looking ahead of me in hopes of not running into a cyclist head on. As a side of caution, I typically avoid the use of headphones while trail running for this reason. As I completed the course and stepped to the side, I knew that I wanted to reach out and chat with someone about the Devou Park trail system and rules of etiquette.
So, I reached out to talk with the Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance (CORA) via their Facebook page. I was greeted and astonished as Doug McClintock, President of CORA, began to chat back and forth. Here’s a little bit about Devou Park and the organization as I began to conduct some research on the website: www.devouparktrails.com.
Devou Park is a 703-acre park managed by the City of Covington Administration. William Devou purchased the Eubank house (current Behringer- Crawford Museum) and land in 1848. In 1910, the land was given to the City of Covington by the Devou family in memory of their parents (the donation stipulated that the land must be used as a free park to the public).
In 2003, local natural trail surface advocacy members met with the City of Covington Administration and the Devou Park Advisory Committee to plan the establishment of destination-class natural surface trails in Devou Park. Groundbreaking took place in 2008.
Staring in June 2012, the Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance and the Kentucky Mountain Bike Association partnered with the International Mountain Bike Association, a collaboration focused on improved facility management and better advocacy for natural surface trails across the region. As a result, the tristate area has adopted one regional name; Greater Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance.
You can quickly see how passionate CORA is about the Devou Park Trails as they spend lots of time volunteering to manage the trail. To learn more about or join CORA, feel free to read the following and even download a printable version. You can also view some of the images they have shared over the years of volunteering on the backcountry trail here on their Facebook page.
What I quickly learned from chatting with Doug on Facebook was the following:
The general rule of thumb is that cyclists should yield to foot traffic. Quite often, foot traffic chooses to yield, but we advocate that cyclists should stop. Within user groups, downhill traffic should yield to uphill traffic. It’s a lot harder to get restarted on a bike or break cadence when moving uphill.
I immediately broke rule #1 as I always yield to cyclists. My logic was that I would hate to be on a bike and have to pull over to the side and then get started again. I feel like as a walker or runner, it is a lot easier to get started. CORA’s reply:
That is true, but it’s good form to yield. If someone yields FOR me without provocation, I’ll thank them profusely!
Doug was even kind enough to provide me with a resource, shown below, to share with you to keep you safe as you hop on the trail the next time.
For More Information:
Devou Park Trails:
Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance (CORA)