Category Archives: Trail Running

State Parks Are Havens For Trail Runners

One of the greatest things about running is that you can run basically anywhere. You can walk out your door and run. There is not a whole lot that is necessary in order to run. Just put your shoes on and run. You don’t need a ball, a glove, a field, or a team. It’s just you, your feet, and the ground.

However, if you love nature you might also love trail running, and trail running requires one more thing, a trail. At very least you will want some outdoor space where you can run off road. Not all communities are fortunate enough to have areas where they can go out and run on trails very easily.


In my experiences running on the past several years I have learned that there is one great resource that trail runners can take advantage of and that is your state parks. One thing that almost all state parks have in common is that they have trails. If you want to get out and enjoy some trails you need to check out your closest state park if you haven’t done so yet.

The Finger Lakes Region of New York is fortunate to be home to no fewer than 17 state parks. These state parks are areas where the people have decided nature is important and should be preserved and protected and that is one of the things that draws people to trail running. The opportunity to be out in nature and enjoy two things that go great together, running and nature, is irresistible.

In the Finger Lakes region there are multiple state parks where running clubs are able to put on great races. The Ithaca Running club has been putting on trail races or years and some of their races feature our great state parks. The Tortoise and Hare trail race is run in Buttermilk Falls State Park. The Monster marathon and half marathon, also put on by Finger Lakes Running Club, is held in Robert Treman State Park.  Forge the Gorgeous trail race is held at Filmore Glen State Park by the Finger Lakes Running Club. Red Newt Racing holds their Cayuga Trails race which encompasses to state parks, both Robert Treman and Buttermilk Falls. Lucifer’s Crossing trail race is held at Robert Treman State Park by Red Newt Racing. The race itself is named for one of the most prominent features of the state park, Lucifer’s Falls where the runners will be climbing the gorge along the falls.

Lucifer's Crossing_August 20, 2017_25

Soon we may have even more races to look forward to at state parks in the Finger Lakes region. The Southern Tier Running Club is planning to bring race to our area at Newtown Battlefield State Park and Pinnacle State Park. The proposed race at Newtown Battlefield would be a trail half marathon. The race at Pinnacle would have options for a 3 and 7 mile course.

Running races is one great reason to go for a trail run at a state park but there are more reasons. Most state parks offer multiple trails and not all of them will be covered by races. Not all trails are appropriate for races but all trails are appropriate for exploring. So take this great opportunity to explore. Go take a run down a trail you may not be familiar with. Just see where it goes and enjoy it. Relax, take your time even. Stop and soak in that nature. Exploration and connection are the best things about getting out there in nature on a run. See something new. Get out there and connect with nature.

State parks also might have trails that connect with other trails. Trails that go a much longer distance than you might otherwise expect. You can start on one trail in a state park and take a turn off onto another trail and go on an adventure. Who knows you could start in a state park and end up running across the state on the Finger Lakes Trail if you want to. You can pick up the Finger Lakes trail in Watkins Glen State Park and Robert Treman State Park for example.  You never know where the adventure might lead you. Be open to the adventure.

Another great aspect of state parks aside from opportunities to camp and hike or run trails is the opportunity to find solitude. Sometimes even running alone in the city you never really feel that solitude. There are always cars and street lights and other pedestrians and barking dogs. There are so many distractions to take you out of the moment. Too many other things to pay attention to that take you out of that moment. Get out on a lesser used trail at a state park and you might not see anyone for miles. No cars to worry about. No barking dogs to contend with. You can become fully immersed in the moment and just enjoy the run with no other concerns. Just drink in the nature and experience real solitude.

Gather your friends and meet up at a state park and start your adventure today.

Dam Good Trail Race_August 13, 2017_25

Winter Trail Long Run

The weather and timing finally coopaerated enough for me to be able to get out for a decent trail run this winter. I am in the process of training for a trail marathon and a trail 50k and I have been aching to get on some trails. I like road running but hitting the trails is really where it’s at for me.

This weeks long run in my training plan called for 14 miles. There aren’t really any local trails that allow for that distance too easily, so I headed to my favorite local spot planning to just run loops of various trails there until I reached my goal of 14 miles. The warm weather had melted off most of the snow in our area but then the temperature cooled right back down. I was being cautiously optomistic about the quality of the run I would be able to have with mostly clear trails. I expected there to be at least some snow or ice left on the trails but I was hopeful that it would be minimal.

When I arrived it looked like the conditions would be good. It looked like most of the snow had indeed melted and I would be set to get in some good running. As I approached the trail head I was greated with the sight of a large sheet of ice. My heart sank a little. This was going to be interesting.


This run ended up being more challenging than I had anticipated. I think I experienced just about ever trail running condition you can all in one run. It was cold. The temperature was in the mid to low 30’s. The trails were hard because, well its winter. It was kind of like running on a very hard, lumpy, uneven road with potholes in it. Despite most of the trail being hard there were also parts that were still muddy and had not refrozen from the cold. There was standing water in parts as well as run off running down the trails too. Combine this with the nice long sheets of ice on some spots and the frozen puddles, and patches of ice interspersed with the grass and you had quite the adventurous obstacle course to navigate. Oh, and did I mention the wind. The wind was especially brutal in the sections where I circled one of the highest parts of the hillside that is completely exposed. So the wiping wind combined with the cold temps were enough to chill you pretty good. The only trail running conditions that I didn’t really have to contend with was precipitation and heat. Could you imagine if in the middle of that run somehow it started getting hot. Things would have really gotten tumultuous then.


This was the first real long run on a trail I have done probably since I ran the Green Monster 25k last October. It wore me down pretty good. I was tired and competing with all of the trail conditions did not help me. I slipped a few times and tripped a bunch of times. I managed to stay on my feet despite a few close calls. I ended the day with general body soreness and a sore ankle from all the tripping. I definitely have to work on getting my feet up when I am tired. But overall I was happy with the run and glad to get it done and in the books. I was just super happy to have an opportunity to hit the trails again for a good run and take a few photographs along the way. Monday starts week 8 of 50k training. Getting close to half way through the training plan towards running my first trail marathon at Sehgahunda in May.

2017 Running Goals In Review

Every year I try to set myself a new goal or two in my running. Below is a list of my goals that I had set for myself for 2017 and how I did as far as accomplishing them during 2017.

Goals I set for myself for 2017.

  1. Run sub 28 minute 5k.
  2. Run at least 4 trail runs.
  3. Increase total miles from 2016 to 2017.
  4. Run a trail half marathon. (Green Monster in October 25k)
I wrote the above goals 11/1/2016.
2017 results for goals.
  1. I didn’t run any official 5Ks but I improved my 5k time to apx 24 min
  2. I ran 9 trail races.
  3. Total Miles run for 2016 = 623.76 and For 2017 I ran 1,049 miles
  4. I ran 3 trail races of at least half marathon distance or greater


Me running through the rain at Finger Lakes 50s 25k.
 I haven’t run an official 5k race in years. So maybe I will run one sometime soon so that I can get an official race result time and see what I am really able to do.
Prior to 2017  I think I had only ever run two trail races. So changing things up and spending so much time on the trails was so much fun. I have definitely fallen in love with trail running. It is my preferred type of running when I can get on the trails. Running nine trail races in one year was so exciting. I only ran two races that were on the road and they were in the beginning of the year. The best part about running the nine trail races that I ended up running is that almost all of them were run with some amazing friends.
This guy flew down this steep decent at the Ossian Mountain Run.
The amount of miles that I ran this year kind of astounds me. It’s not a ton of miles compared to others, but for me compared to my past it is huge. I never really expected to make it to 1,000 miles. I never planned to make it to 1,000 miles. I just wanted to increase my mileage from last year. The fact that I increased my mileage from 2016 to 2017 by over 400 miles is great for me. Getting to 1,000 miles just happened organically and it felt great. Just another great result of following the journey.
The biggest and most challenging goal I set for myself was to run a trail race that was at least a half marathon distance. My goal race being to run the Green Monster 25k (16+ miles). Before this year I had never run a trail run more than six miles and I had never run a race over 13 miles. So, setting myself this goal of a 16 mile trail race was a big jump for me. I couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement of my friends. Adding in two other trail races of at least half marathon distance was great to get me ready for my goal race. And Green Monster did not disappoint. It was a fantastic race in every way. Challenging, Fun, and Inspiring. Everything you want out of a goal.
What goals did you accomplish in 2017?
One of the grueling climbs at the Green Monster 25k.

2018 Goal and Project

I have talked a lot about how my photography often combines with my other passions that become parts of my life over the years. The last few years running has become a huge part of my life and my photography has reflected that. As my experience in running evolves and I develop new goals my running leads me to attempt new photography projects.

There is a chance you will see more GoPro photos of me taking a selfie.

In the first half of 2018 I will be running my first ever marathon, a trail marathon, at Sehgahunda. Then I will run my first Ultra Marathon at the Worlds End 50K. My training plan for these faces officially begins on New Years Day. I can’t think of a better way to start of the new year than with the the official beginning of the pursuit of a new goal and amazing challenge. Something that I never thought I would ever do.

There will likely be photos of my fellow runners crushing some trails.

I expect this to be a huge challenge and not something that will come easy for me. Between the challenge of finding time to run, the actual stress of running, finding time to work on other projects, and keeping my life balance it is sure to be a true test. For this reason I am going to make this a totally immersive process. I am going to make this not just a running goal, I am going to make this a photography project as well.

I am going to attempt to document as much as I can of my training and life experience as I work through my training plan and the rest of my life on the way to completing my first marathon and 50K. This will include photography, video, and writing. I will publish as much content as I can on my social media and Patreon channels. You can find me on just about any Social media or photography related websites: Facebook Kyle Reynolds, My Facebook business page Kyle Reynolds / KRNaturalPhoto, Twitter @KRnaturalPhoto, Instagram personal Kyle_Reynolds_KRNatrualPhoto, and Instagram business KRNaturalPhoto, Tumbler KRNaturalPhoto, Pinterest KRNaturalPhoto, LinkedIn KRNaturalPhoto, 500px KRNaturalPhoto, Google+ Kyle Reynolds, Google+ business page KRNaturalPhoto, Viewbug Kyle Reynolds, and Flickr KRNaturalPhoto.

You’ll see excellent scenery while out on trails or roads.

If you are at all interested in what it is like for someone to train for a trail marathon of 50K and want to hear about it first hand no sugar coating then follow me hear and on any of my other pages above. Or if you just want to see the amazing artwork that I am hopefully able to create as part of this adventure you should also follow me. I plan to write and post as much as possible. Be back soon to share more.

And hopefully what you will see is photos that show how much fun it can be trying to reach for that next challenge and goal.

Another Running Goal

As a runner one thing that helps me stay motivated and get the training I need to enjoy the races I want to run is setting goals. The goal could be the race itself that I want to run or it could revolve around some other aspect of running. Goals can be time related, distance related, or taking on another specific challenge.

Big flats 14 mile grou run_February 10, 2017_19

After running multiple half marathons in 2016 I found that the half marathon distance is a a distance I like for road races. It is the perfect amount of challenging yet holding the possibility of improvement. I decided both training for the races as well as running them. I decided that I wanted to be able to run a half marathon whenever I saw a race that looked fun. I didn’t want to have to look far off into the future and plan and make sure I had time to train for a half marathon.

Mt. Tom Challenge _February 18, 2017_20

I just want to see a fun event and jump on it and do it. This might sound a little crazy from some perspectives. But it seemed perfectly reasonable to me. I enjoy running half marathons. I want to be able to run any half marathon that sounds fun if I want to run it. I want to be ready for any opportunity that may arise.

So to this end I decided that since I had trained for a half marathon the past two years in a row now as my goal race I wanted to be at the point where I didn’t have to “train” just to be able to run the half marathon. I wanted to be in good enough running shape to be able to run the half marathon distance whenever. I may not be able to run it to the best of my ability but I wanted to be to the point where I could run the distance without suffering at any time.

Seneca 7_April 30, 2017_78-2

I decided I wanted to commit to running a half marathon distance at least once every month for all of 2017. That way My legs would build the muscle memory of that distance. My mind and my body would know how to run that race. I would fully know what to expect from that distance. I figured this would keep me prepared for any half marathon that I should decide I wanted to do. This lead me to mapping out a nearly half marathon distance run that I cold do from my house in a loop fashion that would include over 1,200 feet of elevation gain. I never thought I would be doing anything like that.

The toughest part of this goal came in May. I had been enjoying my normal running routine and went out for a planned 13.1 mile run with a friend and the run just wasn’t going well. I was exhausted and tired and slow. I eventually had to call it quits at 11 miles. It was a huge downer. My friend knew I was bummed about not getting to my goal distance and encouraged my to shake it off. Telling me that we all have bad days. Days when our runs don’t go as we would like, and that is true. But I still felt down about that run. I had this goal and now I wasn’t going to reach it. I never reached my goal of a half marathon distance run for May.

Dam Good Trail Race_August 13, 2017_5

I could have let that stop me. I could have given up on my goal of running half marathon distance runs and never run another one after that. Or I could have run long runs less frequently, But I didn’t I continued to run half marathon distance runs. I ran with friends or I ran solo, but I ran. I kept reaching for that goal even though technically I still wouldn’t reach it. But I would still get 99.9% of the benefit of trying to attain that goal. There is more to setting a goal than just saying you achieved that specific thing.

GM_August 23, 2017_10081

I managed to keep up my motivation through the month of October. Other than the one month I didn’t run a half marathon distance run I did successfully run a half marathon distance every other month. In October I actually ran at least 13.1 miles three times and that included the hardest run I have run to date, a 25k trail run with over 4000 ft of elevation.  So don’t let one minor hiccup in achieving your goals create a real setback in what you are trying to achieve. You can still achieve a great deal without actually meeting the exact definition of what your goal was.

Reaching for your goals helps you feel better. It provides motivation. It provides the fodder that powers us on to bigger and better things. Set goals. Reach for them. Achieve them. And most importantly of all keep striving for them despite setbacks. You will be glad you did.

FLT_September 17, 2017_21

Run, Photograph, Write

I have gone out and pursued more photography with a purpose this year than I ever have in the past. In the past I would go out and generally just search for something interesting to photograph. Then once I found a subject and photographed it I would come home and have to figure out what to do with those photographs.


This year more than any other year I have had more of a plan. As my focus in my personal life has trained more on running, my photography has also become more focused on running. So I go out with intention. I go out to photograph a race that is happening, or I am running a race and I am planning to take photographs while I am out racing, or I go out for a run with he goal of photographing the places my run leads me to explore. Then once I run and photograph I generally have a plan to write about or otherwise share the experience that I have had.

Lucifer's Crossing_August 20, 2017_21

I really like this process. It has lead me to explore many new things. I have tried out knew processes and had to thing differently about my photography than I have in the past. I have tried out knew equipment. I am constantly thinking about ways to improve how I am experiencing the event. How can I capture moments better. How can I improve my experience as a runner and photographer and how can I create better content to share with you.

Lucifer's Crossing_August 20, 2017_1297

I am photographing the Red Baron Half Marathon for the Southern Tier Running Club on Sunday November 5, 2017. I have been thinking about this event a lot. I am going to tray something different here. Normally I pick one spot and photograph the race from there. Since this will be a longer race. I am going to try to photograph from two different spots. I am also going to try to use a Go Pro camera mounted on a tripod to capture the race as a time lapse photography series. I am really not sure how all of this will turn out. There are still some moving pieces but I am hoping for a good result. I look forward to seeing everyone out there. Enjoy the run.

Need a reason to run?

Why Run?

  • For exercise.
  • For fun.
  • For peace.
  • For solitude.
  • For energy.
  • For fitness.
  • For health.
  • For a cause.
  • For friends.
  • To see new things.
  • To have new experiences.
  • To be part of a community.
  • To share in something.

Who cares why, just run.