Long trail run today, I ran the High Creek - Cherry Creek loop with Jon. I guess this is a "short" trail run for Jon, but 20 miles and 4 hours is the longest I've run in quite some time. Jon came over to my house at 5:30AM, and then we piled in my car and headed out to Richmond (about 6 miles north of Smithfield). Parked at a big pullout along Cherry Creek, and then started the run on the dirt road (5200' elevation), which changed to paved as we headed north toward High Creek. This was the road segment that would make the route a "loop", rather than a shuttle. Not especially fun, but the road is actually very pretty to run on, and I thought it would be good to get this part done with at the very beginning while it's cool, rather than at the end of the run, when our legs are beaten up, feet hurting, and the the temperatures baking.
After about 3 miles we got onto the High Creek dirt road, and headed up the canyon. After a couple miles of that, we finally got to the trailhead and started the "real run". High Creek is a beautiful canyon, and the trail is in great shape. Lots of foot bridges at creek crossings, so we didn't even have to get our feet wet. It's a nice wooded single-track for a couple miles, and then it opens up to a gorgeous alpine meadow. Wildflowers were blooming everywhere, and everything was green. Once we were in the meadow (at about 6500'), we could see Cherry Peak, and big vertical cliffs everywhere, about 750' of sheer rock in some places. It feels more like Colorado or Wyoming Rockies more than Utah. There are also waterfalls dropping down the cliffs in several places.
The trail kept climbing, but was runnable. Eventually it got very steep, though, and we hiked most of the rest of the way up to High Creek Lake, which is a little cirque lake at the top of the canyon, near the ridge. The lake just pops up out of nowhere, and it very peaceful and beautiful. Not a ripple to be seen in the water, and the cliffs reflected perfectly off the surface. We could look down off the cirque to the meadow below, and it's a beautiful site.
We took a food break at the lake, and pitifully attempted to skip a few stones, and then continued on. From the lake at 8800', we climbed a few hundred feet to the saddle, and then ran just below the ridge, behind Cherry Peak. We had great views from there, including Naomi Peak (highest peak in the Bear River Range), and Smithfield Canyon. It was very green too. We ran along the ridge for a couple miles, which was fairly slow going due to rockiness and undulating terrain.
We finally topped out right at 9400' at the final pass, where we could see down into City Creek Canyon, and also had great views of Cache Valley, the Wellsvilles, and even Logan Peak (the radio antennas give it away). Finally, we started our rapid descent into the Cherry Creek drainage. We dropped about 1500' in probably about a mile, and it was pretty slow going for me. Jon got out a bit ahead of me. Eventually we dropped into a small meadow, and the trail got a little less steep, but still rough going.
Eventually we made it along Cherry Creek, and it was nice and shady, and the trail became less rocky and more packed dirt, which was nice. Plus there was a woman out there (the only person we saw on the Cherry Creek trail) who was doing trail maintenance and clipping overgrown vegetation. She did a great job, and our last mile or two were really smooth. Several creek crossings in here, but I just plowed through the water, since that is more fun, plus were were almost done. We finally made it off the single track, and then ran downhill on the dirt road for about another mile. Made it back to my car to complete the loop, 19.6 miles in just barely over 4 hours. Averaged 12:20/mile, or something stupid like that. It was fun to do a scenic trail run as a change of pace, so to speak. It was a beautiful day, and a good run.