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Jun 28, 2014

Highland State Recreation Area

This morning I went out to the Highland State Recreation Area.  I had 17 miles on the schedule and the mountain bike trails are around 16 miles.  I'd never been out there before so I thought it would be fun to head out there and see what it was like.  I've been running Stony Creek mostly but you need to change it up once in awhile too.

The park "officially" opens at 8am but where the mountain bike trailhead is, there are no gates so you can pretty much run this whenever you want.  You do have to have your State passport otherwise I'm sure you would get a ticket.  I got there a little after 7am and there was only one car there.  There's plenty of parking too.  Probably at least 20 spots.  Maybe this would make for a great night run location too with the SEMR group?

View from where I parked
 The park has a few rules for the mountain bikers below before you get on the trail.
There was also a sign of the trail system so I could see what I would be running although I also printed out a map with markers on it too just in case I needed it.  My plan was to run the entire trail - A, B, C, and D and that is exactly what I did.
It's not Hunting season but I did hear guns going off
This is what you are confronted with as soon as you get on the trail.  Yikes technical already?  Yes, technical and hilly begins right from the start and does not let up at all throughout the entire trail.
The start of the trail
Each section had it's own little personality but it did start to blend in as I continued through the park.  The entire 16 miles is singletrack!  I was also trying to watch that I didn't hit any poison ivy too.  There were a few spots where the brush was right on you but, no fears, I didn't touch any and there was not any on the trail so you are good to go.
Hills are the theme
Here's a picture I took of the trail maps on the trail.  These are invaluable when out there and made it so easy to stay on track.  As you can see, there is a map(provided by the Michigan Mountain Biking Association) above but also a direction sign to what the next trail was.  In this case, I was heading to C or I could have taken B for a loop.  Having these out there really eases your mind because there would be nothing worse than getting lost out there.  Also, there were trail markers along the way.  I used the map to check what my next point would be so I knew I was on the right trail.  In fact, I never got off course at all.
Marked well
As you see below, this is what the typical terrain is.  I would say that it had a mix of highly technical trails with lots of roots and rocks.  It also had a few areas that were really hilly as well as some spots that were somewhat flat and you could run.  Actually you could run the entire course.
 I took this last picture as I did the trail then did another 1 1/2 mile out and back to get my miles in.  As you can see, hilly, rocks, roots so technical for sure.
Hilly and Rocky
I used my Garmin the entire time but it appears that I lost some signals for several miles.  Given that, instead of 17, I probably ran somewhere around 18-19.  As you can see in the map below, there is a straight part and this also showed no elevation.  Let me tell you that there is no straight parts out there and nothing with zero elevation either.  Oh well!
Map per Garmin
Yeah that elevation at 11 to 15 is not right.
As you can see above, the route is quite hilly with lots of elevation.  The entire run was like that and miles 11-15 were not correct on my Garmin.  I have to admit, at that point, it was almost 80 degrees and I probably would have been really happy with something flat - haha!  For whatever reason, it picked back up at mile 15 until I finished.  I think I probably ended up running more like 18-19 miles today.  Oops.

My entire run, I saw two runners and two bikers.  Seriously, for almost four hours being out there.  It was like your own park!  I know I'll be back for another run there and give the way the four routes are set up, you can loop a couple and you don't have to run the entire 16 miles of the trails.   If you have not been out there, I would say there's parts that are like the Poto and their are parts like Pontiac Lake.  A real treat to be out there and this is only about 10 minutes past Pontiac Lake so it's not really far from me.

Have you been to Highland Recreation Center?  Give me your thoughts.

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


  1. Haven't been on the trails for a long time, and untill I'm injury free I'll have to stay on the road... That looks like a great trail and the type I would spend lots of time running around!!!

  2. Fun! I used to bike Highland wayyyy back when I lived in MI. Looks like it is holding up pretty well and I think even way back in the dark ages it was well marked. Kudos to the MMBA! Nice run Jeff!