Growing up, my parents and I went on a road trip every summer. Usually, we went to a theme park (Busch Gardens or King’s Dominion) and hit a couple of Revolutionary or Civil War battlefields, since my dad is a history buff.
Thanks to these trips to battlefields, state, and national parks, my parents have photo albums full of pictures of us- many taken with my mom’s 1980s Canon film camera or disposable cameras. The memories of these trips are a lot prettier than the pictures because I was an awkward preteen, and back in the day, you couldn’t see your photos until you picked them up developed from the Walmart film department.
Road trips to theme parks were fun 15-20 years ago but pretty awkward as an adult. I still can’t imagine a summer without a little trip, so when my friend Noah Moore announced the MooreOns Run This State road trip, I jumped on the opportunity.
Noah coaches several training programs in Mt. Pleasant, including Couch-to-5K and a half marathon training group. He blogs and hosts training programs at Moore On Running, so the runners who train with him refer to themselves as “MooreOns” (rhymes with moron). Plus, he’s the mastermind between numerous running adventures, such as a late-night West Ashley Greenway run and the Pointless 12-Hour Ultra.
At 5 AM on Saturday, about 30 MooreOns and honorary MooreOns (people who are friends with Noah or local runners but aren’t members of the training group) gathered in Mt. Pleasant to head off to Columbia, Greenville, Pickens, and Cayce for trail runs before ending back in Mt. Pleasant. We had ages ranging from 16 to 69 and runners who run everything from 5Ks to ultras
Our first trail was the Peak to Prosperity Passage of the Palmetto Trail, outside Columbia. We met with two ladies who work with Noah and they had a cool banner to welcome us.
Peak to Prosperity was the easiest trail, as it was flat and fast (my fastest miles of the day… not that anyone was shooting for a PR). Aside from being a little slippery, the trail was pretty easy and also beautiful. There were little wooden bridges where you could see the Broad River.
I ran 2 miles out and 2 miles back at this trail, and I also got some pictures with my carpool- Lisa (our driver), Becky, and Nina. Despite spending hours in a smelly car with them, we’re still great friends (our friendship is stronger than before, and everyone met lots of new people too).
After we finished, we got back on I-26 to find a rest stop with bathrooms- our only issue of the day- none of the trails we ran had bathrooms that were open. Then, we headed to the Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve Trail outside of Greenville.
This trail was basically straight uphill, then you turned around and ran straight downhill, about 3 miles total. We heard there was an area to look out at the end, but no one saw it in the 20 minutes we ran “out”, so I’m not sure if we didn’t run far enough or if we heard wrong about the trail.
My legs definitely worked on those hills- Greenville is *not* Charleston, but it was neat running on hills and also dealing with less humidity. It was a lot cooler outside, overcast, and the rain held off.
We ate lunch at a barbeque buffet restaurant in Traveller’s Rest (not much to say about the food- it took forever for them to bring my grilled cheese and sweet potatoes out, and I wasn’t super hungry… we mostly snacked all day long in the cars), then we headed off for the next adventure in Pickens, the Keowee Toxaway Raven Rock / Natural Bridge Trail.
Keowee Toxaway Natural Bridge Trail was more of a hiking trail, and most of us got in about a mile and a half total. A few brave souls did an extra trail to cover 4 miles, but many of us were feeling the mid-afternoon slump and also full from lunch.
The trail had a beautiful waterfall as well as rocks you walked across to get from one side to the other. Someone saw a (non-poisonous) snake too- our only snake sighting of the day.
After our long break waiting on everyone, we took off for the Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve Trail. It was getting late, and most of us had been awake since 3-4 AM, so we stopped at the Dunkin Donuts for some iced coffee, gas, and of course, another bathroom break. The Jamocha Almond Fudge iced coffee kept me awake for the rest of the ride to Cayce, which is just outside Columbia and on our way back.
Congaree Creek Trail was about 2.5 miles total and very difficult- lots of roots, mud puddles, branches, trees, and little bridges. Like the Natural Bridge Trail, we hiked as much as we ran (or maybe more), and most of us squeezed it in just before the darkness hit.
As we left Columbia, it started raining and rained most of the way back to Mt. Pleasant. We arrived at Patriot’s Point just after 10 PM to start our last trail, when the rain stopped. The last trail was Peyton’s Trail, which is a 1.2 mile long trail at Patriot’s Point that Noah ran with his son, Peyton, who passed away last summer at the age of 9.
The Patriot’s Point Trail was Peyton’s favorite trail, and since we dedicate our runs to Peyton, it was fun to finish here, thinking of his family’s adventures and how his sweet spirit was with us on this trip. At the end, we took a wet finish line picture (Since it was so late and wet, only Noah took a picture- thanks Noah for letting me use your picture!)
The trail running road trip was one of the highlights of my summer. I wouldn’t ordinarily visit these trails on my own (not that you should ever run trails alone, you know what I mean), but even then, it’s so much fun with a big group. Plus, I almost always run on the roads. Part of being a “MooreOn” is getting out of your comfort zone in running style, terrain, locations, and new people.
Leaving my comfort zone of the roads was really good for me and refreshed my outlook on running just in time for the Fall. I’m grateful that Noah put this life-changing trip together and hope we can all do this again one day.