Thursday, December 27, 2012

Windsor Castle Park

A Trail Review:  Windsor Castle Park

Located in the heart of downtown Smithfield, Va. Windsor Castle Park is a 208-acre riverside park. Dedicated in May of 2010, the park features a woodland trail system, picnic and open area space, a dog park, kayak/canoe launch, fishing pier, mountain bike path, scenic overlooks and the historic manor house -- Windsor Castle.  Windsor Castle Farm was originally part of a 1450 acre parcel patented in 1637 by Arthur Smith, an ancestor of the town's founder, Arthur Smith IV.

Over 3.8 miles of walking trails and bridges wind through pristine wooded areas, along beautifully landscaped open areas, and adjacent to picturesque creeks and marshes in the park. Five pedestrian bridges cross the creeks and marshes, and numerous overlooks are strategically located for resting and sightseeing – per The Official web site.

I’ve lived in Smithfield for over seven years and for reason beyond me, I have never visited this park until yesterday.  I've heard alot of good about this park from local friends yet before hitting the trails I wanted to "virtually scout out" what I was getting myself into.  The information on their official web site provided an excellent overview.  I love the adventure of a new trail but I hate going in blind, the web site featured some history, amenities, great pictures and maps so any new visitors could get a lay of the land before venturing out on the trails.

As the trails go what I found were well maintained and flat without any threat of roots or uneven footing.  The trails cover from 3 miles, around perimeter or 3.8 miles if you take some of the inner loops.  The trails are wide, well groomed and provide a mild challenge.  The natural trails are designed to provide a relaxing outing, yet still provide a good workout for more experienced runners/walkers/hikers.  This is not a “hill trail” but does offer some undulating terrain.  The park also offers two unique “trail” personalities.  Half of the trail is run thu a local wooded area with bridges crossing over some natural waterways and marshes.  In this area you get the feel of being in a deep lush forest, the other half of the trail is run more in the open, as if your running thu local farm lands.

From a work out perspective, the trails at Windsor Castle Park offer range of challenges.  For a easy paced lap the trails offers an enjoyable day out in nature, but if you’re looking for a “workout” pick up your pace and add a few laps and the trails will get your heart pumping.  The day I ran Windsor Park I did four laps, and each lap took a little zip out of my legs.  Although none of the hills are killers, add them up and run the loop a few times…and they can feel like Everest.  The challenge from a local perspective, if Noland Trail is a 10 I would give Windsor Park a 4.  The quality of the park is nothing less then a 10.

For more information on Windsor Castle Park, check out their Web-site. 

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