Ridley Creek State Park Orange Trail

As I type this it is 67 degrees outside… easily the warmest day of the year!  I’m about to go on a nice, long run and I’m definitely looking forward to running in a t-shirt!!!

Before I embark on my run I want to share some photos from a hike that Matt, Piper and I took last weekend.  We explored out a different part of Ridley Creek State Park on Sunday and it was beautiful!

Ridley Creek

We typically stay on the west side of Ridley Creek but on Sunday we ventured eastward to the park’s Orange Trail.  This single track path follows the eastern bank of the creek before looping back through a hilly forest.  The trail is well marked with orange blazes and the entire lasso-shaped loop was about 2.35 miles long.

Oddly, the official DCNR map shows a shorter orange loop than what was marked in the woods, so I overlaid the outline of our actual hike on the above map.

Oddly, the official DCNR map shows a shorter orange loop than what was marked in the woods, so I overlaid the outline of our actual hike on the above map.

Piper had a blast, as usual.  She is getting very comfortable climbing on boulders, logs, dirt piles and anything else we find in the woods.  She also really wants to go in the water but it’s still pretty cold out so we still haven’t really let her get more than her paws wet.  I can’t wait for warmer weather!!

All in all this was a pleasant little hike with great views of the creek.  I’ll definitely return to the Orange Trail, maybe for a run or a summer picnic by the water.  Piper still doesn’t even know that summer exists, but soon enough she’ll see what I keep raving about! 😀

What are you looking at?

“‘Summer?’ I’ll believe it when I see it!”

Ridley Creek State Park
351 Gradyville Road
Newtown Square, PA 19073

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Okehocking Preserve

Piper and her reflection in Ridley Creek

Merry Christmas Eve!  Matt and I are hosting dinner tonight… bone-in short ribs over polenta with brussel sprouts braised in cream.  YUM!!  The food is prepped, the house is clean, I got in a nice 4 mile run in the rain and now I’m just waiting for family to arrive.  I thought I’d take advantage of this lull in the day to share some photos from one of our hikes last week.

2834 Piper at Okehocking

Matt and I are fortunate to live very close to Okehocking Preserve, a 180-acre conservation area with miles of trails, a scenic section of Ridley Creek and an off-leash, unfenced dog park.  We’ve been taking Piper to Okehocking a lot lately, in part to socialize her but also because the preserve’s close proximity to our house allows us to squeeze in the maximum amount of outdoor time before the sun goes down.  (Hooray for the shortest day of the year being BEHIND us now!!)

So far Piper has really taken to Okehocking.  She sniffs and snorts around in the tall grass, has fun climbing on rocks, walls, and fallen trees, wades into (and tries to drink all of) Ridley Creek and, of course, has a blast playing with other dogs in the off-leash area.  I’m sure we’ll be spending many, many afternoons at Okehocking over the next several months.  If you’re from the area I would definitely recommend visiting Okehocking… maybe we’ll see you there!

2794 Piper drinking

Okehocking Preserve
5316 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square, PA 19073
Preserve Map | Web Site
My Okehocking post from 2012

My Un-Pickle Run 5K and a 10 mile run!

I have long been awaiting a chance to run a race at Ridley Creek State Park and I finally got my chance yesterday… except that I thought the race started 5 hours after it actually did, so I completely missed it.  Doh!!!

Yesterday should have been the perfect day to race… the temperature was a wonderful 57°, the sun was shining, and I was super psyched to get a chance to run on my relatively flat “home” course.  I remember thinking that the biggest challenge might actually be dodging all of the walkers, dogs, and bikers that would surely also be enjoying the park at 3PM on such a beautiful afternoon.  That and finding a spot to park, since the already crowded parking lot would no doubt be overflowing with the addition of all of the racers’ cars.

When Matt and I pulled into the parking lot at 2:20 (forty minutes early for our “3PM” race), I was shocked to see so many open parking spots.  Were all of the other racers running late, I wondered?  Then we came around the bend to where I was sure the Run The Day registration table would be set up, only to see a few late afternoon picnickers enjoying the lovely weather.  What?!!  I then checked the race web site and realized my mistake… the race had started at 10AM and was long over.  Boo.  😦

Me after my UNpickle Run at Ridley Creek

Me after my un-Pickle Run. That’s Ridley Creek in the background. I love this park!

Matt and I were all ready to race so we decided to run our own un-Pickle Run (maybe that would be a Cucumber Run??).  We started promptly at 2:30PM and, race or no race, I was still determined to get my PR.  We didn’t run the exact Pickle Run course (the race would have had us do a 1.5-ish mile out and back) so our route ended up with more downhill than the real race had, but nevertheless I got my personal best!!!!  I crossed the “finish” with a huge PR time of 24:25.  My previous best was 25:13 from the New Year’s Eve 5K so I was very happy with my time.  Now if only I could have done it in a real race!  🙂

UnPickle 5K Runkeeper Stats

In other running news, I ran my longest distance ever today – 10 MILES!!  Matt had a lacrosse game at Rosemont College and I tagged along in order to go on a nice run on the Main Line.  When I ran track (hurdles/sprints) at Haverford College I spent a ton of time doing shorter runs in this area so it was nice to get back to my running roots with the long run today.  My run took me from the Septa (R5) train station at Rosemont all the way to Narberth and back… that’s 6 stations in all!!  (And I can name them in order by heart because I’m a dork… Rosemont, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Ardmore, Wynnewood, Narberth.  I wrote my college thesis on the Main Line so I could also tell you all sorts of useful useless historical facts about them, don’t get me started.)  Anyway, it wasn’t easy and I definitely got pretty tired around miles 7-8, but I did it!!  My run started before Matt’s lacrosse game began and I didn’t get back until his game was over.  I felt very hard core!!

Here are the Runkeeper stats for today’s run… I stayed close to the train tracks to avoid the bulk of the traffic lights and intersections but I still (mercifully) got stopped at a few lights and had a chance to stretch.  I also paused my workout to use the restroom at the Ardmore Wawa… I spent a ton of money there in college so I figure I am entitled to a free pit stop!

10 Mile Run (Runkeeper Stats)

After my epic run and Matt’s lacrosse game we stopped at a place in Bryn Mawr called *ndulge cupcake boutique for cupcakes (the mocha-cola cupcake was delicious!) and then I drained my entire Camelbak waterbottle before collapsing into a bubble bath with my Kindle for an hour or so.  Life is good!

Miles since last post:  75.4
Days since last post:  15
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.92
2014 TOTAL MILES: 379.1

Birthday Walk at Ridley Creek

Last Friday was my birthday, woohoo!  Because we were entered to run in the Trinity 5K at 9AM Saturday morning we kept Friday’s celebrating pretty low key.  We got breakfast at Manhattan Bagel (my favorite) and worked a full day while hydrating like crazy for the race.  After work we took a nice walk with Bailey at Ridley Creek State Park before eating a pasta dinner and getting a good night’s sleep.  Here’s a photo of my Ridley Creek walking buddies… the perfect birthday companions!  🙂

380 Matt and Bailey

The weather was gorgeous during our walk.  Since we weren’t planning on doing any running in the park I brought my camera along to capture the beautiful autumn colors and my favorite photo subject, Bailey.  Here are a few of the photos I took:

Bailey hasn’t been to Ridley Creek State Park since I hurt my foot in late September.  She was so happy to be out and about again!  She was sporting her new ‘walkeez’ fleece harness and she paused for lots of photo ops.  She’s such a good dog!

Bailey

Hiking in the park with Matt and Bailey was the perfect way to spend my birthday.  What’s your idea of the perfect birthday afternoon?

Ridley Creek State Park

In honor of my 100th post (yes, it’s my 100th post!) I’m going to feature one of my very favorite hiking spots ever:  Ridley Creek State Park.  “Ridley Creek,” as we call it, is a 2,600 acre park located in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, approximately 15 miles west of Philadelphia.  It also happens to be about 2 miles from our house which makes it a very convenient place to enjoy nature while getting some exercise!

Ridley Creek State Park Map (TheLittleGSP.com)

Matt and I both grew up in this area so we’ve been coming to Ridley Creek State Park with our families since long before we met one another in college.  Come to think of it, we both spent SO much time here as kids that it’s actually pretty likely that we unknowingly passed each other on the bike trail or splashed around in the creek together at some point in our childhoods.

Ridley Creek features miles of secluded hiking trails, multiple family-friendly picnic areas, and a 4.5 mile paved trail.  The paved trail is popular with walkers, runners, and bikers.  The trail has mile-markers every tenth of a mile and the scenery along the way includes thick woods, cornfields, deserted 19th century stone houses, and, of course, Ridley Creek itself.  Matt, Bailey, and I walk this trail fairly often.  Most recently we went on Day 14 of my mile-a-day “Streak” and the next day I was definitely feeling the combined effects of the hilly 4.5 mile walk and my morning mile!

In addition to the paved trail, Matt and I also enjoy hiking in the much more secluded northern section of the park.  This area is usually utilized by horseback riders but we started to frequent it after discovering an off-road hunter’s parking lot (1) near our house last February.  The 4.25 mile trail can be a bit difficult to follow if you don’t know where you’re going but I love how sections of it makes you feel like you’re 100 miles away from civilization or, better yet, like you’ve gone back in time.  In fact, if you follow the gas pipeline right-of-way up the (very steep) hill you’ll actually come across a forgotten cemetery that hails back to the 1800s.  Cool!

If you’re ever in Delaware County looking for a good place to take a hike I’d definitely recommend stopping by Ridley Creek State Park.  If you have been to Ridley Creek before please let me know what your favorite trail is in the comments section below!  🙂

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