Went for another long run day on the Neusiok Trail today. For those who don't know, here's a link (http://www.neusioktrail.org/index.html). It's a great trail running through the Croatan National Forest here in Eastern NC. Total length of the trail is ~21 miles, but it's split in multiple portions by state highways, making for great sections to use for out-and-back long runs (yes, I realize "long run" is a relative term, for me right now, a "long run" is around 10-12 miles). It's also part of the North Carolina "Mountains to Sea Trail," which runs from the Great Smokey Mountains all the way to the Outer Banks.
There is some varying terrain, going from cypress swamps and bogs, to some hardwood ridges. There's plenty of little stream and bog crossings, most of which have man-made boardwalks crossing them. All in all, I think it's a great little secret in Eastern North Carolina. In general, the trail is completely runnable, with only a few moderately technical sections (mainly due to fallen logs and tree roots). Either way, I know from experience on my long runs out there, that on the way back of a 12 mile out-and-back, those tree roots have taken me down on more than one occasion...
Yesterday, was the first time I ran the section from NC 306 parking lot back towards the Pine Cliff Recreation area (on the Neuse River). Usually I run the section from NC 306 to Mill Creek Road crossing NC 101 (Toad wallow and The Pines). The Pine Cliff section I ran yesterday was a fantastic surprise. Very soft single track for the beginning, which then turned into alot of rolling climbs and descents. Nothing too crazy elevation wise, but in Eastern NC, if you run on flatland all the time, this section will make you work. Much of the climbs and decents come in and out of flowing creeks, and are marked by some of the semi-technical root sections growing out of the coastal hardwood trees. It made for a great run, and pardon my french, it was kind of an ass-kicker.
It really makes me look forward to moving out west, and getting to run some actual mountains out there, and get some real elevation in...I know I'm going to need the workout!