Trail running has become extremely popular in the past nine years. Runners are ditching the pavement for softer terrain and fleeing the monotony of a treadmill for fresh air and adventure. If this sounds familiar and you live in the London, Ontario area, then you’re probably wondering where the best spots are to hit the trail. I’ve compiled a list of my favourite spots in the London area for a trail run.
Environmentally Significant Areas
It’s not surprising that all of my favourite trails to run in London, Ontario, are environmentally significant areas. ESA’s are natural areas in and around London ranging from meadows, forests, wetlands, and valleys that are often situated on the Thames River and are home to different varieties of wildlife. They are free to visit and are “take only photos, leave only footprints” type places, which are perfect for connecting to your surroundings and getting out for an adventure. Most of the ESA’s have parking, managed trails marked with yellow blazes, and a map which you can find online or at the trail head.
*All maps in this post are from the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) Website (http://thamesriver.on.ca) and are available for download. They were produced by UTRCA with data provided by the City of London, Copyright © UTRCA 2015.
There are a couple things to remember when spending time in one of London’s beautiful ESA’s:
– Use official access points and stay on marked trails
– Keep your pets on a leash- Don’t disturb the wildlife and foliage
– Take only photos, leave only footprints
Best Trails for Running
#1 – Meadowlily Woods
Meadowlily Woods is an environmentally significant area that slopes down and runs along the Thames River. Being in the Thames River Valley, the vegetation and terrain here varies, and the river in spots breaks off into small streams, creating deep ravines. The varied terrain is great for seasoned trail runners who like to climb and descend to keep their heart guessing and work tendons and muscles in ways a treadmill can’t.
#2 – Medway Valley Heritage Forest
Medway Valley Heritage Forest is an ESA that runs along a section of Medway Creek in the north end of London. This area is great for experienced runners who can navigate steep climbs and extreme ups and downs and want to give extra attention to quads and glutes. A lot of the more advanced trails have tree roots on one side and steep embankments on the other, calling for more attention and balance on the runner’s part.
#3 – Kilally Meadows
Kilally Meadows is an ESA that runs along the Thames River and is an ideal area to escape from traffic and city noise and connect with nature. With many of the trails being flat, Kilally is great for the beginner trail runner. Although there is a paved path running through the park, there’s a network of dirt paths that will give you the benefit of less impact from running on a softer surface.
More to Explore
London is not limited to my favourite three places for great trail running. They are many more environmentally significant areas, parks, and conservation areas to explore and keep you trail running. Check out the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority website for more maintained trails so you can get out and connect with nature.
For more information on what to wear for a trail run, check out my previous post How to Stay Warm & Fashionable on a Winter Hike Photo Shoot.