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Oct 16, 2013

The Vasa Trails of Traverse City

This weekend I happen to have Columbus Day off so I took an opportunity to visit our cottage as well as do some running.  Lots of running!  On Monday, I went to the Vasa Trails for the first time and I'll for sure be back.  It was a sunny and cool(39 degrees to start) morning.

For those that don't know it, the Vasa Trails in Traverse City are part of the TART Trails of which there are numerous trails.  You can read about them all HERE.

The Vasa trail is made up of three routes including a 25k loop, 10k loop and 5k loop.  For this run, I had 8 miles on the schedule to I opted to run the 10k and 5k loops for a little more than what I needed.

The trails are very easy to find as there were numerous signs to get you to the trailhead.  It's actually located in a subdivision - how lucky are those residents?
Sign upon entering the parking lot
As you pulled in, there was plenty of parking.  Actually, when I got there, there was only one other car in the lot but then it was Monday after all.  I'm sure on weekends it gets busy.  Of course, it was also fall peak colors in Northern Michigan, so what better time to run this great trail.
Parking/bathroom area
It's nice they have a building for bathrooms and a warming area as there are lots of cross country ski events here in the Winter.  Also, there's lots of biking events as well as some running events.
Inside warming building and bathrooms
As you start on the trail, you are greeted with this.  Of course, I donated the suggested amount and had I actually lived close to the trails, I would gladly donate $100 for the year - it's well worth it!
 The trails are very well marked with your typical trail markers and all had maps to see where you were and also the level of difficulty.  In this case, easy to start.  You can also find the map online which is what I did in case I needed it out there.  Since it was so clearly marked, I never had to pull it out.  There's also good cell phone coverage so you could look at the map on your phone too.
Typical trail marker
As you made your way in and came up to other markers, it was very clear where you needed to go.  There were also signs for the 5k, 10k and 25k routes.  I started with the 10k route.

Not even a mile into the 10k trail, there was a nice bridge with a river running through it.  Very nice indeed!
Great bridge

You can see above the level of difficulty gets harder as noted by the bottom of the sign and the huge hill!  These are not easy trails but they are fun.  They are also not single track, although there is a single track area but it's on the 25k route so I didn't see that part of it.  The trail is typically wide(about side enough for a pickup to get through to maintain it which I saw them doing) and perfect for a racing atmosphere.  Running Fit puts on a race here in September that I'd love to run.  The schedule of their races is HERE.

As you continue, you could decide where you wanted to run - what loop to go on.  Very clear.  I've been on trails where it was easy to get lost and I could not see that happening on the Vasa trails.

Another thing the trail had was the signs below in the area for all routes.  Not only was this great for emergencies but they also helped you know where you were on the route and how much farther you had to go.  In this case, I was 4k into the 10k route.

The fall colors were unbelievable and it was the perfect weekend to see all the colors.  This was not only on the trail but also in the area.  In the last several years, it seems the second weekend in October is always the best time for Fall colors.
Beautiful colors
Lots of yellows too
Also, notice the hills above and below.  They kept coming and coming.  Lots and lots of elevation for this run.  In fact, in the 9+ miles I ran, the elevation gain was 648 feet.  A perfect place to train.

Did I mention it was clearly marked?
More signage
As you made your way back to the trailhead, they had these cool signs.  If you do visit, be sure to donate to help them maintain the trail.
As I got back in the parking lot, there were more cars which I thought was a lot for a Monday.  Check out those trees too!  Just awesome.
Parking Lot with beautiful color
The trail was about 50 minutes from my cottage and was well worth the drive out for it or even worth a weekend getaway.  I figure I drive an hour for some 10k races so why miss out on this great trail.  Here's the routes I ran(10k and 5k loops) and the elevation chart:
Map per Garmin

Elevation per Garmin - hills!!!!!
If you have not visited the trail, now you will know what to expect.  If you have, you know how great it is.  I can imagine this trail would be fun all year long.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. I am so jealous! This looks like an awesome place to run!

  2. That looks like a great place to run and your write-up was like one of your races... but you weren't gunning for a time!