Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Favorite Runs: Paul Stock Nature Trail

Tucked away in the northeast corner of the wild open spaces of the state of Wyoming, there is a little town.  It's little by rest-of-world standards; for Wyoming, it's a pretty decent size.

It was born in the late 1800s and named in tribute to arguably its most famous resident ever, the American frontier legend William "Buffalo Bill" Cody.

Cody, Wyoming is Cowboy Country.  It sits on the edge of the Absaroka Range of the Rocky Mountains, and guards the eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  It holds a rodeo nightly during the summer months, and is an embarkation point for hunters in the fall and winter.  It's got high plains dotted with sage and cattle, a sulphur-smelling river that carves its way through a canyon marking the edge of town, and mountain sentinels looming on the horizon.

I like wild places, so my favorite running spot in Cody is a trail on the edge of town where it's easy to forget that you're only half a mile away from a gas station and Dairy Queen.  Behind the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the trail drops down onto a little plateau above the Shoshone River.  The buildings from town disappear and you are left with dirt paths zig-zagging around sage bushes peering over the cliff edge towards the river flowing by below.

You have Rattlesnake and Cedar Mountains for company to the west, and Heart Mountain snoozing to the north.  The trail follows the curve of the Shoshone River and eventually dips down right to the banks, where the dogs can wade in and get a refreshing drink.  The wind smells like dust and sun-scorched sage.

By staying along the perimeter, the trail can be maximized to about two miles.  You may encounter horseback riders, runners, hikers, or native wildlife like foxes and pelicans camping out on a sandbar in the river.

It's a little slice of Wyoming heaven.

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