Monday, May 28, 2018

Trail Review: Sherwood Fields Park, Penfield, NY

View from the highest and furthest point out in the park.

Sherwood Fields Park is just a few miles away from where I live, on the way into Penfield, NY, right off of Route 441 and next to a firehouse.  The park isn't huge, but has just enough trails mixed with a few small hills and a bit of single-track on the side, (literally), to provide for a convenient trail excursion when there isn't time to drive off to something further outside the suburbs and/or city of Rochester, NY.  

A section of the trail in shade as you run downhill towards the Don Cranson bridge.

A map of the park, Sherwood Fields Park Map, shows the main trails that are primarily crushed stone.  While the map lists the trail system at 2 miles, running the main circuit around the whole park is about 1.5 miles.  There are a few places you can cross over from one side to another, but not enough to make up .5 mile.  

The main trail starts at the gate right from the parking lot and heads downhill in two directions, which will link up together to take you out further to the larger loop across the bridge.  Again, you have a couple of different options as there is another smaller loop that gives you access to either the Don Cranson Bridge or the Covert Bridge.

The gate at the start of the Sherwood Fields Park.

Once across either bridge, you will start running back up a gentle slope either on the west or east side of the trails.  The center point of the trail loop, highest point, and furthest point away from the parking lot is at the top of this hill, (obviously!) where these is a nice pergola, (I just learned a new word!) over a wooden bench.

The bench and pergola at the furthest point out on the trails.

What makes this system nice and convenient is the option with the various loops and connecting pieces is to get in whatever distance you need yet not necessarily running the same loop every single time.  There are also a few connecting single-pieces are the western and eastern sides of the main trails which do not appear on the map.  While none of these really add any significant distance, they do break things up and make the running a bit more fun.

Western Side: Woods Trail

Entrance to the Woods Trail running uphill from the south.

This little connecting piece runs slightly uphill or downhill (south to north or north to south), and brings you into the edge of the woods on a mulch covered trail.  The distance isn't much, but it's fun. I believe it was an Eagle Scout project from a year or two ago.

Eastern Side: Unnamed Trail and Commission Ditch Trail

Entry point onto the Unnamed Trail heading southwards.

The Unnamed Trail is often flooded, wet, or muddy depending upon the season.

The two eastern trails connecting pieces are a nice divergence into the woods as well, but are often flooded, wet, and/or muddy depending upon the season and/or rain/snow fall.  I was out today and these trails were still very muddy.  The Unnamed Trail starts just off the Don Cranson Bridge on the eastern side as you go uphill and comes out just before the main trail turns to head up to the pergola.  There are a few sections with boards to cross over the mud/water if needed, which in winter time when I was snowshoeing during the snow melt were definitely helpful.  There are also a few little stubby tree stumps towards the northern edge of the trail that if you miss could land you on your face in the narrower sections of the trail.

The Commission Ditch Trail runs eastward through the woods out to the commission ditch and then heads north through grasses which at this time of the year in May are approaching knee high.  The wooded piece again can get very muddy and today there appeared to be lots of deer hoof prints as I ran through there.  I didn't bother to run through the high grasses today, which are not always this bad, but I didn't feel like I needed to do that today and risk ticks and/or poison ivy which is also a possibility in this park as in many.  The Commission Ditch Trail technically runs through the park and out the other side, but eventually crosses private land.  If you go that far westward, you will see the sign, but again, you will also be running through some pretty dense grasses as this is often not kept up real well.

Pic of the Commission Ditch Trail looking southward towards 441.

Pic of the Commission Ditch Trail looking northwards.

In conclusion, while this might not be a park to run your long run in, (though if you are doing a short 1-2 mile loop course over a several hour target, it might be perfect), it is great for getting out to get a shorter run in and is especially great for the beginning trail runner who is getting use to the trails.  It is fairly gentle, has a few nice hills, and a bit of decent trail work if you add in the extra trail sections noted above in the Woods Trail, Unnamed Trail, and Commission Ditch Trail.  Enjoy!!!  A few extra pics from the main trails follow!

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