All courses start and end in the Pavilion (near the edge of the river).
The 100km only will enjoy a very challenging extra section (shown with blue lines on the Course Map.
All others will take a right (staying with the red line on the Course Map) instead of going straight onto the blue line).
This course generally goes either up or down. Not a lot of flat. The climbs result in absolutely beautiful vistas.
There is also a lot of scree, which makes things even more exciting!
There are river crossings. But most years it is possible to keep your feet dry if you balance across the stones and bridges. No promises though!
WRITTEN COURSE DESCRIPTION:
(By Joe Prusaitis):
PAVILION to ZIP) Across the field and up Boot Trail, but it's an easy gentle up, with many switchbacks. (50k/25k skips this section) and (50mi skips this section too). Onto Boot Trail for not very long at all, then turn right to go straight down a rocky chute, under the big suspension bridge, cross the road and field to the river onto Duck Trail. Along the river on a scenic rock shelf, then up a short steep climb near the river crossing, past the barn, between the buildings, across the road next to Blackbuck, and up into the trees onto the powerline trail, and Moon Trail again for just a moment before finding and running up the backside of the Texas Trail. Texas goes up, but its again an easy gentle up. This tops onto a flat top mesa, then runs flat past the old cross, and around and back the opposite direction, but after a short but of rocky downslope, becomes yet another flat rocky shelf. At the end of this, turn again, and go the opposite direction again on a slight downhill tilt on a nice skinny singletrack that squeezes between rock walls and trees. But everything from the mesa top is all down until back onto the Moon Trail again. Turn right and head over to and connect onto Boot Trail for the long traverse around the valley. (50mi renew). This traverse rolls a bit, some up, some down, but neither one for very long, and it ends at the new aid station called ZIP Aid, basically because it’s near the trailhead leading up to the big zip line. (50k/25k reconnect at the aid station, coming in from the bottom) (10k runs the same beginning as the 100k, but escapes at the Zip Aid). We've run almost all of these trails in the past, but in the other direction, and most of it was the last two mile extra miles added to the end that everybody hated so much because you got close to the finish and had to go out for another 2 mile loop. Well, now it’s at the beginning instead of at the end. Ha!
ZIP to PROSPECTOR) We follow the Wagon Trail off to the left, and it becomes the Zipline Trail, and it goes up a little, and keeps on going a little more, until we turn off trail for a short bushwhack high up on in area where there's always a bit of old junk laying about. We turn left and head back down through this stuff, and it keep getting steeper down as it meanders through a rough rocky area down back onto the Wagon Trail again. Left here and take this all the way until it dead ends into a dirt road. Aha! So now this is where we have out first big nasty climb. Although this is a jeep road, its one nasty mother of a climb. Not that the climb goes forever, it does ease off after the initial hump, and then continues to climb, albeit in a much more docile manner. Still road too. It goes for a ways up until it reaches a right turn, where we reach a flat state of equilibrium. And maybe after a short bit, you will notice that this more rugged and less used jeep road is actually downhill. Continue on until you see a trail block, directing you off trail to the left onto a skinny trail between high scrub. This my friend is what we call The Bear, but for the first time, it is mostly DOWNHILL. Not that it is all downhill though, as it tends to change its mind now and again, and go up here and there, but in this direction, it should be notable easier than the other direction it used to be. Still, it ain’t easy. As a matter of fact, it’s still quite a nasty little trail. And in the old days, this trail would end at the Texas Aid, which no longer exists. Texas Aid turned into a shooting range, (go figure) which was the main reason we redid the entire course. So, what we now do instead, is that on your way down the Bear, we cut off trail and head over to another well traveled jeep road. This road used to be the big long downhill after the back valley, we took back to civilization. Well, now it's a very long constant no-switchback up, with a few dips and dives early on. But mostly it’s just a long climb up a jeep road. Nothing rugged or nasty about it, besides the climb. This is the 2nd big nasty climb. Once you top out, near to the point where it splits to the right onto another jeep road, it tilts down and rolls you right down into the Prospector Aid station. Same place for this aid as it has always been.
PROSPECTOR to WALL) Understand, Prospector Aid is the gateway into HELL, or the Elephant, as we like to call it. The route through the back valley when looking at any GPS track, will look like the lower half of an Elephant (Elephant legs - to be exact), and thankfully only 3 legs. Let me walk you through them. Prospector is on a cliff, actually hanging on the edge of it, and you must first go down over the edge, on a steep, and skinny track into the valley. Can't be more than 100 yards, but it’s basically down a set of switchbacks, cross a jeep road, cross a dry creek, then up a rocky and cactus covered ridge which will feel a lot further than it actually is. Once you hit the back fenceline, you turn left, drop down a steep and nasty boulder strewn hill to the arroyo between two hills, turn left and head back out on an old docile grass and rock jeep road. This brings you back to the main valley and some easy running relief. The back valley is flat, with a jeep road running from end to end, which is more just a reference point, to head back into the belly of the beast. We run a short ways up this lovely jeep road, before we once again turn right to climb the 2nd elephant leg. This is very rugged backcountry, even when its flat, which isn't often. The ruggedness of the terrain alone will slow you down, if for no other reason than to dodge the cactus. Consider that you will be starting the race Friday night, and will run through here the first time and possible even the second time in the dark. So, you will be searching for flags to find your way, looking up as much as you are looking down, and good luck with staying out of all the mean-ness all over this place while doing both. My slowest pace for all 3 loops where through this section, and I suspect this will remain consistent regardless the direction. Anyway, once on the back fenceline of leg 2, turn left and cross over the hump, then left again and head back towards the main valley. The last part of leg two has one hell of a nasty drop near the end, so careful with the descent. This time, the back valley easy jeep road is just something to look at, as you don't even touch it. Instead we turn and head right back up the next arroyo (the final leg) to the back fenceline, cross the ridge, turn right and back down to the back valley once more. But you are still not done yet. We have one more nasty climb to get out if this bitch of a valley. You have to first cross the valley first, which does wonder a bit, and then strait up the fenceline on the other side, holding onto trees and rocks. Celebrate once you get on top, because you have just survived the Elephant, but don't get carried away, because you need to pay attention to this fenceline cut, filled with uneven rocky terrain and loads of prickly pear. It's not much of a climb through here, but you had better keep your eyes open all the way to the turn. Well, now, the Windmill is not an aid station, but it is a big clean tank filled with fresh cold water, and well worth a dunk on a hot day or night. I talked Cris into adding this short out-n-back, because I so much hated missing this cool pleasure when I ran the 100k in 2017. I came close to going off course last year just for the pleasure, and didn't care what the outcome would be. Anyway, we turn left and head up to the Windmill, then turn back and go right back to the fenceline for the rest of our journey. But now, we are running DOWN the Gorilla Trail. This whole thing is littered with rocks and cactus, but at least it’s down.There is one small hiccup as it climbs down through a dry creek bottom and up the other side, but this is near the base, and the rest of this section is all down to the river, cross the small suspension bridge and into the Wall Aid station. Needless to say, this section is the one that beats the hell out of everyone. Beware the Elephant.
(WALL to PAVILION) Wall Aid is at the base of a huge 100 ft. climbing wall, and when you leave, you will be using a set of skinny switchbacks to climb up to the top of the wall directly over the aid station. There is a very nice overlook deck almost directly overhead which marks the top of this climb. And then you keep on over the other edge and down a steep descent back into the creek bottom on the other side. Here, you turn and head up the creek on Armadillo Trail, literally running the rock bottom of the dry creek back up into the draw. It's a good ways up, and not much of a climb, and then it turns right back on itself and come back the way it came from but just a little higher up. Still not much of a climb, but it is up. But we do not go all the way back to the overlook. Instead, we turn and cut through to the hard pack jeep road on top, make a hard left and head towards out final descent, back down Lisa Lane for a few yards, then left onto the old lower Wagon Trail, to Mi Casa, and then down the old way we used to go up, past the mine, and into the field, directly towards the Pavilion, where we started many hours ago.
REPEAT) That’s one loop. 100k & 50 mi do 3 loops. 50k does 2 loops. 25k & 10k are done.