BATTLE CREEK PARK, St. Paul:
Why it's taken me so long to "discover" Battle Creek as a running resource eludes me completely. Thirteen or so years ago I was struggling on my hands and knees with a chain saw for months, 10-hr days, cutting and removing invasive shrub and tree species in this park as part of a restoration effort. The bluffs were challenging then and they remain so. Only now, the challenge is linking the while mountain bike trail section with no walking on the hills. After two runs, a 12 and an 8 miler, I'm not there yet, but I figure 3-4 more trips should get me there.
This a a wonderful area and a nice primer for attemtping to run the entirety (all hills) at Afton SP's 25K loop. It's track is mostly single width and you can add on as much wide, casual, yet still plenty hilly, cross country ski trail to add distance. It's difficulty is somewhere between Afton and Highland park, making it challenging, but doable.
I LOVE having such resources right in my back yard (oK, 10 minutes away)! I once read that the best trails are those right at home. I'm beginning to see why.