The coastal city of Seabrook prides it's self on their community wide, interconnected trail system, with at least 10 miles spanning from one side of the city to the other. While doing research online about local area trails I found this little gem on the city government website; a nature path and running trail and less than an hour from my home. (which I consider a reasonable distance to travel to exercise in nature, especially living in a city where most week day commutes are over an hour) I was very excited to find a place that encouraged trail running and bird watching so conveniently located. Plus, one of my favorite features in nature: water! This is a beautiful coastal view, with trees and wildlife surrounding a lively and fun filled park.
The parking lot is packed, but we find a spot next to the buzzards picking through the dumpster. (nature is truely all around us!) I notice an overflow lot outside the park fence for those days when everyone has the same idea to head out to the coastal park. The sounds of the ocean waves as they gently break along the rocks is so soothing I opted not to turn on the music and zone out to the beat. There is the convenience of a park bathroom, which after a 45 minute drive is absolutely necessary. The park looks out on the gulf, picnicing families have overtaken most of the large wooden picnic tables. There are children of all ages running around on the playground and climbing on the hills and tire structures. There are multiple families camped out on the very large doc, fishing, chatting, listening to some rap music, children chase each other with bait fish. We can see a huge white cruise ship going out a few miles down the coast line. We are there at sunset and the sky is beautiful pink and orange framed by white caps of choppy water. The trail directly off the park is gravel and a reasonable width in most areas. There is a small water inlet on one side of the trail, with a fence preventing people from exploring, and a sign warning against it. An enclosed cemetary sits unassumingly on the other side of the trail located toward the from of the trail head, and the front of the park. There is also a sign at the mouth of the trail stating the presence of toothy wildlife, for people to be aware. Tall water grasses, and flowering bushes line either side of the winding trail. Safety markers also are posted periodically throughout the trail, to provide a more specific location for emergency services, in case help is needed. The trail is very relaxing, and my family and I enjoyed the entire visit. We did not feel comfortable running on the trail with the stroller, due to the number of people, and the potential to collide with them coming around a corner blinded by the abundance of follage. It was less than a mile in distance in one direction, and while the city promotes the use of the trails as an interconnected system, it appeared we would have to venture out onto a small road to get to the next gravel trail. My boyfriend and I did not feel comfortable taking the stroller out onto this two lane road, to get to the trail we saw up the road on the way into the park.
I admitted to myself a couple of times, my discomfort in the environment, and I felt unsure about going out with the kids by myself. All of my concerns are completely unfounded, and mostly based on a feeling...and I may also be a wee bit paranoid. When I see a group of people all wearing the exact same color clothing, but not the same like a team or club would wear, I find it kind of suspicious of indicating membership of a gang. I could be very wrong and I do hope that I am wrong. I saw regular patrols by marked police cars, and at no point felt like my life was in danger. I just took note, and spent a bit of time cautiously observing the environment for a change in tone and culture. As the park came around to time to close, I saw an increase in patrolling, and the park goers actively packing up.
Pine Gully Park Trail Running Rubric
|1 low quality||2 average quality||3 best quality||Score|
|cost||expensive, charge per individual||small fee||free||3|
|trail length||requires laps to get adequate workout||1 mile minimum||loop of manageable length, 1 mile minimum||1 - with potential to expand at risk of safety|
|trail material||broken sidewalk cement, grass||gravel, dirt, sand||paved with large wheels in mind (cement, road material, etc)||2|
|trail width||hardly large enough for single||single but easy to pass||double wide, easy to pass, side by side||3|
|bugs||doused in bug repellent and still leave itchy, mouth closed breathing||carry bug spray, could get on with out it, possibly leave with a couple of bug bites||like being indoors, a pretty butterfly would be a treat||3|
|view||grimy, no greenery, no tree cover from sun and wind, no visual appeal in the distance or directly near by||visual appeal either in the distance or directly near by, some greenery, some tree cover from sun and wind||visual appeal both in the distance and near by, green, seasonal foliage, tree cover from sun and wind||3|
|crowd (quantity)||too many people to maneuver as desired||some passing required but doable||comfortably populated||1|
|crowd (culture)||hobo community directly off path, rude or abrasive individuals||people keep to their self, not negative and not positive interactions with individuals||friendly individuals on and off the trail, smiles of encouragement, helpful if needed||2|
|cleanliness||nearly hazardous due to trash, very appealing aesthetically, unpleasant smell||trash here and there, minimal impact to aesthetics||spotless, clean||2 - trail and park clean, but signs, especially the trail map is completely covered|
|safety||not getting out of the car, too dangerous||share trail with bikers, some risk due to wildlife, surprise dark and scary and secluded tunnel or bridge, poor upkeep of trail material or signs||minimal risks, visible security/police, well maintained trail material and signs||2|
|parking||sparsely spots available in trail lot, street parking, may have to hike to trail, charge to park||adequate parking in trail lot, some hike required to get to trail||adequate parking in trail lot, no hike to trail||3|
|amenities||not encouraging the hanging out in any way||limited water, limits to any desired amenity||toilets, benches, workout section, water||3|
I feel it should be noted, things like bugs, or parking are going to based on day by day conditions. Overall, the trail scores well at a 28 out of a possible 36 points. I would easily return to explore and hang out at the park with the family. I enjoyed the sights of the trail, and my indescribable connection with all things water puts the view far above the rank of 3 for me. I recommend you get out and try it, take the family and your stroller and do some walking or running if you can find the rest of the trails. 😉
Let me know what you think and how your visit ranks on the trail running rubric. Hit me up if you have any questions or comments you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or class details at premofitness.com and as always: Happy trails (running)!!