Exploring Strouds Run State Park

Photo: Don Bilski/Shutterstock

Lace up for Ohio’s Thunderbunny Trail and Race.

Thanks to the hard work of hikers, runners and mountain bikers, Ohio has seen a resurgence in trail building over the past couple of decades. Case in point: Strouds Run State Park in Athens. It’s now home to, well, just about exactly 50K (30 miles) of trails open to running and hiking, most of which are also open to mountain biking—because they were built by mountain bikers. Work your way up to the Thunderbunny 50K ultra held here annually, or simply enjoy a trail run of any length as you take in views of Dow Lake, Strouds Run, or their scenic surroundings of dense forest, wildflowers and rock outcroppings.

An hour-plus drive southeast of Columbus, Strouds makes for a good weekend trip. The park has a campground, and conveniently skirting the campground is the Thunderbunny Trail. The trail as named is only about 3 miles in length, but connects directly with the full, contiguous trail system. The trails are well-built singletrack that generally parallel the ridges and hollows rather than go straight up and down, but know that there are a few steep sections—Trail Running Project rates the trails as 97% runnable. 
There are also 20 miles of ankle-twisting bridle trails in the park. 

Recommended 5K 

As you drive Strouds Run Road east to the park entrance, pull over in the first parking lot on the left. From here, complete a clockwise loop that’s in the 5K ballpark. Take the short but steep White Pine Trail to the ridgetop. From here, take a right onto the Vista Point Trail and run to the namesake vista—it’s the best view in the park, overlooking Dow Lake—and then take a right onto the Thunderbunny Trail and run it back down to the road. Turn right (west) and run about 500 feet on the road back to where you started.  

Recommended 10K 

Starting from the campground entrance, pick up the Vista Point Trail. It soon intersects with the Thunderbunny Trail. Take a right here and run north until you come to State Park Road. After crossing the road, the trail name changes to Hollow Point Trail, turns south and continues until it comes out at the road within eyeshot of the campground entrance. All told, this loop is about 6 miles. Well-maintained and very runnable, the trail has gentle grades and winds through a mature forest, wildflowers, and boulders while crossing footbridges over Strouds Run. 

Enter the Thunderbunny 50K 

The Thunderbunny 50K is sponsored by the Southeastern Ohio Trail Runners, which puts on several races per year in the region. The Thunderbunny is capped at 300 participants, and includes 25K or 11K options. The full 50 course hits just about every trail in Strouds Run and the adjacent city park in Athens. Almost all of the course is on singletrack trail, timed with an early May date when wildflowers are still plentiful.

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Worker-owned Casa Nueva is classic Athens. Try a burrito, pair it with a local Jackie O’s pint and stay for live music. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.