By Phil Brown
The Adirondack Park has more than two thousand miles of hiking trails. In theory, this means it has more than two thousand miles of trails for running, too, though you aren’t likely to encounter people jogging up Gothics, say, or Basin Mountain.
What trails are suitable for running will depend on the runner’s strength and ability, but if you’re looking for suggestions, you’ll find plenty in a new guidebook by Spencer Morrissey and Corenne Black. It’s the only book of its kind for the Adirondacks.
Adirondack Trail Runner describes more than ninety routes that the authors have run. Most of them traverse flat or rolling terrain, making them suitable for novice or intermediate runners. There are harder routes, such as the traverse from Adirondak Loj to the Upper Works via Avalanche Pass. It would have been helpful if the authors rated the difficulty of the trails, but most readers will be able to judge for themselves by the descriptions.
At the start of each chapter, the authors include directions to the trailhead, distances to waypoints on the trail, and a one- or two-sentence synopsis of trail conditions. Each chapter also includes color photographs, a topo map showing the route, and an elevation profile showing the trail’s ups and downs. (A word to the wise regarding elevation profiles: because of the compressed scale, they tend to make hills appear steeper than they really are.)
Morrissey also is the author The Other 54, a guide to the Adirondacks’ hundred tallest mountains after the traditional forty-six High Peaks. Like that book, his new work is a labor of love. He published The Trail Runner under his own imprint, Inca-pah-cho Wilderness Guides, and it bears some of the flaws of many self-published books. The writing is not polished, the photos are sometimes dark or dull, and the book’s design is not that attractive.
As with The Other 54, though, the authors’ enthusiasm and folksy writing style make up for the book’s shortcomings. The humorous touches start with the dedication: “For all of those who feel like someone is chasing them!!”
As to their choice of routes, I have run seventeen of them and have hiked most of the rest, and I’d be hard-pressed to argue that this or that trail does not belong in the book. Nevertheless, I do think that they missed some good destinations (such as Mount Frederica near Lake Lila).
Also, they could have struck a better geographical balance. More than half of the routes lie in what the authors define as the Eastern Region, which encompasses the High Peaks and part of the Champlain Valley. In contrast, there are only nine in the Western Region, and three of these are at the Ranger School in Wanakena (Morrissey is an alumnus). The number of trails in the other three regions (Southern, Northern, and Central) ranges from eight to fifteen.
The book also includes advice on trail-running gear, injury hazards, and backcountry ethics. It sells for $14.95.
Full disclosure: my son, Nathan Brown, copy-edited The Trail Runner.