Yandell Trail Run – Natchez Trace

First time for me to run this trail starting from Yandell. I have run the Natchez Trace trail from the West Florida Boundary twice, but wanted to try starting out from Yandell. The trail run options nearby that I have learned of so far are:
1. Natchez Trace (starting at West Florida Boundary or Yandell)
2. Giles Road trails near Madison, MS
3. Butts Park in Clinton, MS

When I plot the distance to these locations, Yandell is the closest drive at just about 15 minutes, so it makes a good option. Here’s what I learned about the trail at Yandell.

Yandell map1. Location – Very close to the intersection of Hwy 43 and the Natchez Trace Parkway. Even closer to the intersection of Yandell Rd and Hwy 43, but there is no street sign on Yandell Rd. The parking area is the grey blob in the middle bottom of the photo to the left. Yandell Rd is the first turn (southwest) after passing under the Natchez Trace Parkway on Hwy 43. Remember, there is no street sign.


IMG-20130714-00799Take the first left on Yandell. You’ll see a park entrance sign that looks like this photo.

2. Trails – You can take the trail South or North from Yandell. I did both. Started out heading South for about 25 minutes then came back to the start. Then went North for about 20 minutes before coming back to Yandell. The start of the South trail is behind the previous photo as you look over the center section of the split rail fence. The entrance to the North trail is on your left right as you turn off of Yandell Rd in to the parking area. There is a trail sign by the North trail that looks like this:

IMG-20130714-00800 As you can see you are 7.7 miles North of the West Florida Boundary. River Bend and Yockanookany are to the North.

3. South Trail – This trail seemed to be in pretty good shape. I basically ran to the point where I have met the trail coming from the Southern direction out of the West Florida Boundary, so in two separate runs I have covered the entire 7.7 miles between Yandell and West Florida Boundary. It’s heavily shaded, single track, some elevation changes. Most significant hazards are ticks, poison ivy, mosquitoes and trip hazards. The trail is easy to follow and marked by white paint flashing on trees that typically look like this.

IMG-20130714-00795There is a lot of distance between consecutive markings to don’t worry if you go for a while without seeing one.

Note: There are a number of times when the trail splits. If you don’t see a trail mark it is safe to assume this is just two alternate routes to the same location; keep running and you will soon see the trail rejoin.

4. North Trail – Just after you start out on the North trail you will cross Hwy 43. You can’t really see the trail across the road, but if you just go straight across, you’ll pick the trail up again on the North side of Hwy 43. The North trail was quite a bit tougher than the South trail. There are some steep elevations and places where the trail is almost completely overgrown. I had to pick my way through briers and watch out for poison ivy. After the run I picked four ticks off my legs. And spider webs – Yikes! The trail is so narrow, spiders love to spin webs across the path between the close in trees and bushes. I’ve put up with spider webs on trail runs, but this was a new experience. For 20 minutes I literally ran through a spider web every 30 seconds. On several occasions I ended up with the spider on my hand, arm or chest. That was exhilarating. Not sure if this part of the trial is neglected because of cut backs related to sequestration or not, but it was not a very enjoyable run. If I had been better prepared (knee socks, long sleeves, bandana for face) I would have enjoyed it more.

As you head back in to Yandell from the North, you will see a historical marker which I thought was cool.

IMG-20130714-00797 IMG-20130714-00796 The monument was put up 85 years ago in 1928 to mark the trail used by pioneers in search of their dreams and includes this inscription:

Over roaring stream and shallow ford
They pressed in hope and fear
and many died, but many found
the Grapes of Eschol here.
” ~Rowland

The Grapes of Eschol are a biblical reference to the first fruits of The Promised Land described in the Old Testament book of Numbers. Could not find out anything else about the author.

I am tapering down for the Big Butts 50K in 13 days, but plan to do an out n back from Yandell to Riverbend in August. I’ll be better prepared to combat the elements on that run.