Sunday, June 21, 2009

Davidson College Cross Country Trail

The Davidson College cross country trail is a gem of a place for running. If you're tired of hammering out the miles on asphalt and concrete, try a little dirt instead. The trail offers, by way of some double-looping, the opportunity to run a 5k or 8k route.

There are very few flat spots on the course; instead it's mostly ups and downs, especially so for the first mile in (and the last mile out). It's mostly shaded, which is nice for those hot summer days. Trail shoes are not required.

Because you are in the woods, you will have the opportunity to see wildlife in its many forms. Deer are plentiful, along with turtles and the occasional turkey. Snakes are prevalent during the warm summer months; mostly black snakes which live near the old abandoned house just past the kudzu forest.

And speaking of safety, it's a good idea to bring a friend along with you while you are on the trail, or at least a cell phone in case of emergencies. Even during peak times it may be awhile until someone else comes along.

As the sign mentions, Davidson College conducts its cross country practice sessions on weekdays between four and six p.m. when school is in. This means no dogs nor bicycles during that time. Feel free to run then, but realize that you may be passed rapidly by a horde of fast college runners when you least expect it.

The trickiest part of the Davidson College cross country trail is finding it. Unless you've been told where it is you'll probably never stumble upon it. So, here's how to get there. From downtown Davidson head east on Davidson-Concord Road. Turn left at Baker Dr. Parking is available in the big parking lot on the right. Go behind the Baker Sports Complex on the right and the trail begins just past the football practice field.

UPDATE 9/14/09:  The distances of college trail system have been confusing, as I have yet to find an official route of either the 5k or 8k.  This is probably because it's not used in college meets but only as practice.  Before the helpful sign was added at the entrance, people had to rely upon cryptic signs with white and red arrows.  Before I got a GPS watch I ran what I assumed was 5 miles, but was in actuality 4.6!

In order to get 8k in, the key is to run in what I think of as an outside loop followed by an inside loop.  For the first loop you'll turn right just after mile two at the crossroads.  Then go left to the inside loop (there's a sign indicating 8k second loop).  At the crossroads where you turned right at mile two, this time go straight.  Then turn left at the maintenance warehouse and back to the start/finish.

Here's a map taken from data from my Garmin Forerunner 205 back in June.

Thanks, JimmyMac!


  1. I got confused on this trail trying to run the 8k. There are signs referring to a 2nd loop. Can someone clear this up?

    BTW, thanks for your post - it is a really great running trail.


  2. Thanks so much for the update - I've checked back several times since my original post looking for an update and just finally noticed it today (guess I need to learn how to use the internet!)

    Anyway, thank you so much. I love this trail.

    I am planning to run the UHC NC Marathon on 3/20 - it will be my first. I was planning to do the Pilot Mountain Payback - but just the 1/2 - I wasn't sure I would be ready for 26.2 in the woods - but anyway, hope to see and meet some of you there!


  3. JimmyMac, thanks for writing in. Best of luck aat the NC marathon. I did it a couple of years ago when it was in Greensboro in May. I understand the High Point location is better.

    Pilot Mtn. Payback looks tricky, but would be a great feather in one's cap. The key to single-track is to slow it down and don't worry about mile splits.

    Good luck!

  4. So if you don't turn left at the 8K 2nd loop sign, you're only doing 4.6?

  5. so if you do not turn left at the 8k second loop sign its only 4.6 or less?


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