Trail running takes off in the Wenatchee Foothills
By Steve Maher
The balsam root isn’t the only thing exploding with newness in the Wenatchee Foothills.
Trail runners have appeared in the Sage Hills, Horse Lake and Saddle Rock areas in unprecedented numbers so far this spring.
We have no hard numbers to share because no one tracks trail use on a daily or weekly basis in the Foothills. But the anecdotal evidence is strong. I’ve been on a few trail runs myself at Sage Hills — April 1, 6 and 11 to be exact — and each time I spotted more than a dozen other runners. In past years, in the same spot and at the same time of year, I was lucky if I encountered anyone else chugging along besides myself.
“It’s cool to see the sport picking up steam around here,” C.J. Harrison of Peshastin told me while taking a break in his run at Sage Hills on April 6. “I usually do the trails around Leavenworth but I come here in the spring. I’ve never seen so many (runners) down here.”
AdventureWenatchee photographer Frank Cone, who spends a fair amount of time out amongst the shrub-steppe himself, concurs.
“I’ve seen a lot more trail runners this year, mostly in the Sage Hills area,” Cone says. “I’ve seen them in groups of two and three. The same with mountain bikers. The trails seem to be getting a lot more use.”
Why that is so is less clear. Certainly, the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust’s 2013 Wenatchee Foothills Campaign, which increased community awareness of the trail system to the west of the city, has had an impact. Trail running itself has witnessed a spike in popularity over the past few years. And RunWenatchee has introduced an official Wenatchee Valley Trail Run Series to the region, which has likely led to more people training.
Whatever the reason, trail running appears to have become one of the main pursuits of visitors to the Wenatchee Foothills.