The trails at Weimar are not spectacular. No long-range vistas of the snow-capped mountains. No thundering waterfalls. But these trails are some of my favorites of all the trails I know in the Sierra foothills.
Weimar Institute is a Seventh Day Adventist enclave (ashram?) between Auburn, CA and Colfax, CA just off Interstate 80 at the West Paoli exit. This place is HUGE. Though I’ve run all the Institute trails, I’ve never tried to calculate the cumulative trail distance, but it has to be 15 or 20 miles, mostly swirling around in interlocking loops.
To get into the trail system, I park on Weimar Crossroad and run in through a “side door” along the Boardman Canal. But you are welcome to use the “front door.”
The people who manage the Institute are so nice. You can come right through the front gate and pick up a trail map at the little Welcome House. You can park (free) next to the Frontier trail head and enjoy yourself all day. If you come during lunch you can buy a delicious meal at the cafeteria. You may not know this, but the Seventh Day Adventists can COOK!
I’m not a Seventh Day Adventist, but I will tell you this: the Institute has a discernible vibration, for lack of a more descriptive term, a “sacred” feeling. Many of the people you see will have that blissed-out look about them. Like somebody has rung their bell.
That was my little joke.
But we’re here for the trails, right? Most of the time I start on the Frontier Trail and follow it up over the top of what I call Manzanita Hill. Most of the trail intersections are marked with pretty signs.
After about 3 miles I always do a pick-up on Kelly Hill, which I also named in honor of my friend, Kelly Pettit, who is an intense picker-upper in her own right. Pick-ups are also called fartleks, intervals, and sprints. It means you run fast as you can for short periods.
It’s time to leave the Frontier Trail for a while and zip around on the narrow and over-grown Owls Roost Trail. Kids, don’t try this part of the trail on your own. Lots of ways to get turned around. Lots of poison oak, lions, and bears (Oh My!).
But with expert trail guidance (ahem!) we emerge from the dangers of Owls Roost and come upon my favorite little Weimar bridge over Coyote Creek. This is the first reliable all-season water for the past couple of miles. Take a moment for the pooch to drink and get wet. Here, we’ll rejoin Frontier Trail for a little while . . . until we come to the base of (gulp!) . . . Cardiac Hill.
There is an alternate way up called Cardiac ByPass (Oh, those droll Adventists!), but it’s not much better. Now listen, you do NOT have to go up Cardiac Hill on this jaunt. You can skirt around the base along the creek, and most people do, so you don’t have to feel guilty if you avoid the Hill. Cardiac is not real long, but it WILL get your attention.
Coming down the other side of Cardiac Hill today I noticed that the woods were full of flower clusters. Gorgeous, aren’t they?
The climax of the adventure, the big payoff, is Prayer Cove at about 5 miles into the run. I have previously written about that very special spot, so I’ll just say Vaya Con Dios for this run, and link you directly to Prayer Cove. Go on, click. Be bold.
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