A dam great place for an adventure.

The Army Corps of Engineers built Hodges Village Dam in 1959 to prevent a recurrence of severe flooding caused by hurricanes in 1936 and 1938.The dam provides flood protection to the towns of Oxford and Webster,and is part of a system of projects that controls flooding in communities along the Quinebaug and Thames Rivers.

The project encompasses about 1200 acres of land, and includes 15 miles of trails, sites for canoe launch, and a  disc golf course.  No ATVs are allowed on the trails, but they are open for hiking, running, biking, cross country skiing, and horseback riding. Trails on the west side of the river are also open to motorcycles, and hunting in season.

During hunting season, I stick to the trails on the east side… getting shot would be bad!! Most of the year though, I run the trails on the west side.  The terrain is more varied, with both big hills, and low places that tend to be wet.  When I first started running at Hodges, we used to cross over to the west side right on the dam.  When the Corps of Engineers did the seepage control project in1999, they built a bridge just upstream of the dam for the trucks.  When the construction was finished the bridge stayed.  The biggest advantage is the ability to ride your bike right across the bridge, instead of lifting it over your head to clear the fence on the dam!!

Usually the water is low at this time of year, but this year, with so little snow,  its been low since spring, and the trails have been dusty.  I use lots of bug spray during the summer. When you run along the dusty railbed, and motorcycles pass you, you become one with the dust cloud.That’s okay, dust is better than ticks!

Every day there is something new to see.  When I got up this morning, it was raining hard. By mid-morning the sun was shining, and my run about 2:00 was bright and steamy 🙂  There was lots of mud and standing water on the trail, frogs seem to love these days. It’s always surprising to step over a puddle and have a frog jumping around your feet.

Please, everybody, go play outside!!

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Welcome to my woods!

I have been running the trails at Hodges Village Dam for almost 20 years.  The Army Corps of Engineers maintains a flood control project that encompasses about 1200 acres, full of trails for running, hiking, mountain biking, motorcycle riding, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Over the years I have run on sunny summer days, and in rainstorms, blizzards, droughts, and floods.

I have watched a huge construction project to build an impermeable core in the dam, seen logging done, and watched the water level go up and down.  I have met some interesting people: runners, hikers, skiers, bikers, motorcyclists, photographers, and bird watchers.  I have met some people I don’t like: dog walkers. I have shared the woods with trail running racers, mountain bike racers, motorcycle racers, horse back riders, and Boy Scouts.

Everyday there is something new to see: trees leafing and falling down, flowers blooming, mushrooms growing, the water level changing, beaver dams, birds, snakes, deer, grasshoppers, and my favorites – dragonflies. I want to share all these with you, along with some of my observations and obsessions about everything to do with trail running.

And remember: The road to Hell is paved, so stay on the trails!!