As the name suggests, the Rocks and Roots Trail at Alum Creek State Park has both rocks and roots along the trail. But hey, that’s what makes it more fun than a run around the block. Thanks to the Rocks and Roots Trail Running Association, this figure-eight singletrack trail was built in 2013 by runners, for runners. Try one or both loops, which come in at just over 10K each.
Despite the name, the trail is constructed to be smooth enough that you don’t have to look at your feet nonstop; instead you can enjoy the surrounding forest, wildflowers and views of Alum Creek Lake.
Recommended Route: North Loop
Both loops begin at the trailhead on Hollenback Road, which is 30 minutes north of downtown Columbus. They are pretty similar to one another. Start with the 6.7-mile North Loop and follow the orange blazes on this winding path, where you’ll get consistent views of the lake on the eastern half of the loop. The North Loop is generally run in a clockwise direction. The trail is mostly wooded and flat, but it can get muddy, so plan to run it after it’s had a chance to dry out after rain or snow. On the upside, all that rain produces wild mushrooms to look out for. White-tailed deer are common here and there’s a good chance you’ll see some. Also enjoy wildflowers, from phlox and mayapples in the spring to ironweed and aster in the fall.
This is a multi-use trail, so expect to share it with hikers, dog walkers and anglers. Similarly, Alum Creek is a multi-use park. The closest state park to Columbus, it has a little something for everyone: camping, hiking, mountain biking, paddling and swimming (including your dog; the dog park has a beach).