By: Matt Young

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, any visit to Putnam County wouldn’t be complete without a visit to our new trail system, the Meeks Mountain Trails.

Whether you hike or run, time on the trails has grown in popularity and if you’ll give it a try, you’ll see why.

We’re especially excited about an upcoming event the Crush Run Trail Half Marathon, 5k and Kids run on Saturday, February 13th.

If you’re new to running trails, it can make you a little nervous, so we’ve compiled a few tips to make your time on the trails more enjoyable. Practice makes perfect and spending time on the trails will give you confidence to try a trail 5k, 10k or half marathon.

  • Manage your effort not your pace – If you’re coming from a road running background you probably have a typical pace that you run. The variability of trails (long uphills for instance) also dictate a varying pace so focus on maintaining consistent effort and forget about your normal road pace.
  • Use a short stride, especially compared to road running. Landing your feet underneath you and as close to your body as possible helps you maintain balance and reduce the risk of falling. It also contributes to healthy knees that will help you run for years.
  • Run tall with good posture so your frame and skeletal system carry as much as your weight as possible. Good posture makes you more efficient and reduces wasted energy.  Keeping your chin up while still looking ahead on the trail helps to maintain good postures.
  • It’s ok to walk – This is the big secret of trail running. Sometimes not even the fastest runners in a race run the entire course.  Running trails, especially in West Virginia, means you’ll encounter some hills and hiking the hills is more efficient than running them.  Once you reach the top of the hill you won’t be gassed, and you’ll be ready to run the runnable parts like the flats and downhills.
  • Know your route and always let someone know where you’re going to be and when you expect to be back.
  • Leave no trace – Keep the woods litter free and stay on the marked trails.
  • Enjoy creation – Relax, look around, enjoy the quiet, and be thankful for a body that’s healthy enough to carry you on the trails.

To get to the Meeks Mountain Trails visit Hurricane City Park and walk up the hill behind the red caboose. There are maps at the trail head and the Red/White trail is a great way to get started.  Red/White is about 3.2 miles of rolling trails after a short climb to the top of the ridge.

The MMT maps are also available on Trailforks app available on Apple and Android phones.

Putnam County is also a host to over 30 miles in hiking/biking trails through two major trail systems, the Meeks Mountain Trails included, and several additional public trails. Details and guides can be found in the Attractions section of our website: www.visitputnamwv.com/attractions

Matt Young is an experienced runner and Head Coach of Genesis Running. Over the past three years, over 1100 people have learned to run through Genesis Running here in West Virginia. Matt is a part of the Meeks Mountain Trail Alliance and heavily involved with building this trail system in Putnam County.