The Casual Runner

Running Escapes: Ariel ~ Foundation Park

Running Escapes: Ariel ~ Foundation Park

Mount Vernon, Ohio

We are starting a new running series of some of our absolute favorite places to do our training runs.  We are kicking off this series by giving our readers the ins and outs of Ariel ~ Foundation Park located in Mount Vernon, Ohio.

The What

Ariel ~ Foundation Park is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a park.  Foundation Park was originally the site of Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) till the facility closed in 1976.  In February 2013  demolition began on PPG to start constructing the park.  The park had it’s grand opening on July 4, 2015.

Park Map

The park is made up of five main sections; The Woods, The Lakes, The Ruins, The Meadows, and The Terraces.  All of these sections make for excellent areas to run through.  The park has five main entrances, which can be accessed by foot or by car.

The Woods and The Lakes

These two areas are a great area to run through because as you follow the path through the woods you circle around the lake.  Entering the park through the gated entrance by The Woods and The Lakes there are plenty of places to park.  At the pavilions at The Lakes there are also public restrooms and a drinking fountain.  If it’s a hot day definitely carry water with you and you can refill it here!

Following the path around the lake will give you about a mile and a quarter of a run.  The path is mainly pavement, but there will be a portion that is a trail.  Cars are allowed on the pavement part of this path, so keep safe when running and be aware of your surroundings.  This path is not a flat run, you will definitely get a good work out running up and down gradual inclines.

Northeast of The Lakes there is The Serpent Trail, which winds along the Kokosing River and can give you about an extra third of a mile to your run if you take it out to the Welcome Center and CA&C Depot.  If you chose to do this.  You can turn right at the Depot and get on the Ohio to Erie Bike Trail to get back in to the park.

The Ruins, The Meadows, and the Terraces

This will be a more scenic route for you to enjoy on your run.  There are many tiny paths throughout the park that you can choose to take whichever way you want to add some miles in.  Running in The Ruins you can see the Urton Clock House, Coxey Building Ruins, Community Foundation Pavilion, Tree of Life Labyrinth, River of Glass, Schnormeier Event Center, and The Rastin Observation Tower.

If you’re feeling really ambitious on your run… Climb to the top of the Rastin Observation Tower for a great view of Mount Vernon.

After running through The Ruins I like to head over to the Terraces and take a nice power walk up the hill to see out over the park.  Then I take a nice run down the hill, because it’s always easier to run down a hill than up.

Unfortunately there isn’t too much ground in this area of the park, so miles will be minimal through here, but definitely should not be excluded from your run.

My Run Through the Park

I enter the park by starting at the CA&C Depot and get on the Ohio to Erie Bike trail and head southwest towards the park.  I take the trail till I can make a right hand turn toward the Ruins.  I run along the path where the Observation Tower will be to my left and the Tree of Life Labyrinth will be to my left.

Tree of Life Labyrinth and River of Glass

I continue to head west toward The Terraces.  Before climbing up the Terraces I add a little extra milage by turning left and running toward the Pittsburgh Avenue entrance and heading back toward The Terraces to make my climb up and back down the hill.  As I come back down the hill I turn left to head towards The Woods.

Running Towards The Terraces

Once in The Woods I head left and begin to take the path all around the Central Lake.  In doing this I end up on the dirt trail early in the run.  I circle completely around the lake till I end up back where I started in The Woods.  I then turn around and head the opposite way to get me back to The Lakes pavilions.

To finish out my run I take the Serpent Trail northeast and wind back up at the CA&C Depot.  This run usually gets me a 5K through the park.

View from the top of The Terrace looking toward The Ruins

Things to Know Before You Go

The park is officially open April 1st to November 15th, but many of the areas of the park are open to runners and walkers year round if they enter the park by foot.  The park is open daily from 7am-11pm.  There are several places to park within the park.  You can bring your dog with you on your run as well as long as your dog remains on a leash at all times.

There is a lot of wildlife at the park.  I’ve seen everything from turtles to groundhogs to geese.  Be respectful of the animals.  Also a bit of warning, never get to close to the geese if their babies are nearby or they will go after you!

Hopefully all of this is helpful for anyone looking for a great place to run in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Also keep your eyes open for local 5K races through the park!

Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!