I fell in love with Cane Creek Park the first time I ran there in late 2018. In comparison to several other parks, it’s relatively isolated and quiet. There have been numerous adventures in the woods there that I haven’t seen a single person save for the office attendant greeting me at the entrance.
I’m fond of the quiet. With no one else around, I’m allowed to play on the trails in the manner I prefer – running like a kid and jumping off of small rocks while pretending I’m crossing a great and cavernous opening in the ground. The isolation also allows me to spend time getting to know the trails better. I can find shortcuts, old and overgrown paths, or be allowed the freedom to make my own path through the woods. Sometimes it’s fun to run where you think a new trail could be or should be, so long as you don’t get lost.
Of all the wandering and scampering I’ve done (if what you do can’t be qualified as scampering, you should change that), I’m at my best on the green trail on the backside of the park.
You have to intend to get to this trail. From the visitor center, it’s a three-mile trek along the purple trail until you reach the blue connector which is easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. From there, you still need to keep following a gravel path even though your mind will tell you that you’re off the trail and need to turn back.
The trail itself is often empty, even on the busiest of days in the park. Most day hikers don’t want to go that far, leaving it for the taking by those willing to put in that little extra effort.
There’s nothing spectacular about it on the map. It looks like one of several locations that merely skirt the lake. What the map keeps a tight lip on, however, is how sanctifying running this section alone can be. It moves fast, but it will make you want to go slow.
Deep in the woods, the expired foliage lay thick on the ground, and here is where I find its best quality. The densely packed floor of the woods welcomes you to bury past disappointments. My Georgia Death Race DNF, my Yeti 100 DNF, my knee injury, and now my last eight months of waiting impatiently for my medications to settle enough for me to run, they all lay out underneath the foliage. The pain and the frustration, the sadness and the despair, all accepted and allowed to be removed and taken whole by the woods.
This is why I love to visit the green trail. So much of me rests on this 1.5 mile section of single and double track trail that I no longer want to carry with me when I run. It’s a perfect resting place so I can move on and find hope in the future races it also helps me train for.
If you don’t have a trail like this where you can bury your past and let it rest in peace outside of your mind, I welcome you to use this one.
To Get There:
Cane Creek Park – 5213 Harkey Road, Waxhaw NC 28173
Park at the Visitor Center and follow the gravel path to the purple trail. Take it across the dam, but make sure you stop and look out across the lake. No matter the weather this is always worth capturing for your memories. After the dam, hang a left and follow the short gravel path until the trail opens up in the woods. It’s another 2 miles until you reach the blue connector trail. Take the left and cross over the small creek, following the path until you reach the gravel road. Hang a left on the road and just keep running. It’s less than .25 miles to get to the green trail so don’t let your mind play tricks on you. Once you see the green trailhead sign pointing right, I suggest you go left and run the loop clockwise. I can’t explain to you why I think this way is better, but to me it just is. Take your time and enjoy the view. And feel free to bury whatever past disappointments you’ve been carrying with you unnecessarily.