A shady, leafy gem

The soft-surface trail at Macleay Park is fairly flat, but undulates and becomes rocky as you go further toward the upper portion of the park.

The soft-surface trail at Macleay Park is fairly flat, but undulates and becomes rocky as you go further toward the upper portion of the park.

I left the house Saturday morning intending to go for a run in Forest Park. But with the road to the park blocked off, I followed the detour and found myself for the first time at Lower Macleay Park.

What a cool diversion. Literally.

Macleay Park, starting at Northwest 29th Avenue and Upshur Street, is one of those hidden gems in the city. A well-used trail lined with trees follows a creek through an urban neighborhood up to a busy road that connects to Wildwood Trail and leads to Hoyt Arboretum. I ran for a leisurely 35 minutes or so, navigating four footbridges and three switchbacks on the way up and back.

Though the scenery was beautiful, I have to admit I couldn’t enjoy it fully because of the many fist-sized rocks and tree roots poking up from the dirt. There was enough of both that I didn’t dare take my eyes off the ground for fear of tripping. With all my years of running, I’ve done enough face plants — on both dirt and and asphalt — to make me value caution over speed when the footing is dicey.

Still, Macleay Park was a nice and long overdue discovery. On a hot summer day, I can imagine it would feel like a long, cool drink. Even on a cool autumn morning, it was a comfortable place to be and a nice change from the familiar.

Photograph: theintertwine.org

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