2019 Running Travels: Tough terrain makes for an exciting run on the Oregon Ridge Park trails

Numerous painted trees in horizontal photo.
Painted trees at Oregon Ridge Park make up the Forest of Hope. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I grew up less than 30 minutes from Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville and had never run on the trails.

That changed Saturday, June 15.

After a lunchtime celebration for my mom’s birthday and Father’s Day, I wanted to run somewhere new in the evening. My mom and stepdad live close to Oregon Ridge Park, so I decided to try the trails there.

I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but these were some technical trails. I parked near the visitor center and first headed on a paved trail that went past a garden. The paved part of the trail was short. I soon found myself by numerous painted trees that looked really cool. It started out with a few, and then I saw there were many more.

I took some photos of the trees, as well as a plaque that noted what they were for — the Nikki Perlow Foundation Forest of Hope.

Painted trees in vertical photo showing trail.
Here’s another view of part of the Forest of Hope. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

According to this article/release on MarylandAddictionRecovery.com, “The Forest of Hope is an outdoor art installation project that will act as a celebration of life and recovery from addiction that connects the beauty of art and nature with people who have been freed from the bondage and grips of drug and alcohol addiction.”

These colorful trees definitely weren’t something I expected to come across during my run, and I enjoyed seeing them.

After this section, the run became more technical. In addition to steep uphill sections that forced me to walk at times — I live in a flat area — there were also downhills so steep that I walked because I didn’t want to risk falling and tumbling down the hill. My pace was not fast, particularly with all my photo stops, but I did manage not to fall during my 4.5-mile run.

Trail with terrain featuring rocks and branches.
Here’s an example of the terrain at Oregon Ridge Park. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I also did three water crossings that didn’t have bridges. One had a piece of wood that I stepped on to cross before finishing the crossing on rocks, but it wasn’t overly stable. Other times, I used rocks that were above the water’s height. I managed not to really get wet. These actually added some excitement to my run!

Even though I was basically going at a walking pace, I was listening to music and I felt like I had a runner’s high during the first half or so of the run. Although the run was not ruined, that feeling faded some when I realized there was nobody else really near me and I was starting to get ready to be back at my car.

There were several cars parked at the visitors center, but people seemed to be closer to that area, which makes sense.

Overlook-type view of the Hunt Valley area, with grass in the foreground and trees on the sides.
Here’s a view from my run at Oregon Ridge Park. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I started with the Interpretive Loop (which I did not complete, because I took another path), then ran on the Loggers Trail. Then, according to the trail map and looking at my own GPS map, I think I took the Shortcut Trail to the Ivy Hill/S. James Campbell Trail, which I followed back to the Loggers Trail before taking the Lake Trail. Realizing I was close to 4.5 miles, I ran a little bit up the Laurel Trail and turned around.

Although I’ve been having trouble with the elevation on my watch, I did the elevation correction on Garmin Connect, which calculated that the elevation gain was about 576 feet. The elevation correction seems accurate for other runs, so that makes sense to me. For someone who lives in a flat area, that’s a decent amount of elevation gain, particularly over a relatively shorter run like 4.5 miles.

Vanessa Junkin taking a selfie with a steep hill behind her.
Here I am with a hill that I basically walked down because of how steep it was. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

In addition to the hills, this was a technical run, with rocks and branches part of as part of the trail terrain. I wouldn’t go here planning for a fast run, but it was definitely a fun run.

There are still more trails I didn’t get to — they can all be seen here on the trail map — and I’d like to explore the Laurel Trail, the Ridge Trail, the Virginia Pine Trail and the Iron Mine Trail.

Thin trail through lots of lush green landscape, with trees ahead.
I thought this was a nice green view from my run at Oregon Ridge Park. (Vanessa Junkin photo)
Water crossing over shallow river, with trails on both sides.
This was the first water crossing I came to during my run at Oregon Ridge Park. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Image of pond with lots of trees.
Here’s a view of the pond at Oregon Ridge Park from the Pond Trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I set a goal to travel to at least one new-to-me place for a run each month of 2019. Here are the other places I’ve traveled to for runs this year:

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