Tucked into the woods off of Brymer Creek Rd. just 10 minutes south of downtown Cleveland, Johnston Woods is a great hidden gem for trail lovers! Johnston Woods Retreat Center is privately owned by Broad Street United Methodist Church, but the trails are open to the public. There are two great trails: 1.4 miles and 3.2 miles. Both are relatively flat, well maintained, and hard packed. You could use trail shoes or hiking boots, but they aren’t necessary on these trails. I have used my road running shoes to walk my dog at Johnston Woods plenty of times, especially if the ground is dry.
Some of you may have been introduced to the Johnston Woods trails during Terra Running Company’s Bear Claw Trail Race and Terra Trail Half Marathon in the past. Even when you’re not running a well-marked Terra trail race, know that the trails are easy to follow. You also have cell phone reception the entire time, so I definitely have had to check the maps on my phone more than once to reorient myself to the parking lot!
When running trails, don’t worry about your pace. You can’t compare one trail mile to the next like you can on the road, so take this change to enjoy the scenery and simply listen to your body. Oftentimes runners will go 1-3 minutes per mile slower on the trails than they would on the roads with the same amount of effort. It’s ok to slow down! The change in footing, elevation, and unpredictability of a trail will all lead to an overall slower pace, and that is ok!
With the spring starting early here in Southeast Tennessee, we have plenty of time to get outside and enjoy the trails! The great thing about taking my dog to Johnston Woods is that it’s often less busy than the Greenway and he loves all the new smells.
Please note that this trail borders private property. Users are only allowed to be on the marked trail. All lakes, ponds, buildings, and any other properties off trail are closed to public use. Thank you to the staff of Johnston Woods and Broad Street United Methodist Church for allowing the public to use these beautiful trails all year round! To learn more about Johnston Woods, visit JohnstonWoods.org or Alltrails.com/trail/us/tennessee/johnston-woods-trail.