“A huge THANK YOU, this race experience was superb! from the Q/A via email, to day-of-race info, and pre race start. The aid station’s folks were dialed in and by far the best stations I have ever ran into. The atmosphere was electric and the race support was world-class. This is a must for any ultra trail runner! Class act describes this experience”
~ Carlos Rodriuguez
50K Course Map
50km Approximately 7,250 feet of climbing and descending
Golden Gate Canyon State Park Map
Start to Aid Station #1 (5.0 miles) — Head up the Nott Creek Rd to the outhouses and take the single-track Lion Trail for a 0.4-mile climb on single-track. Turn right on the double-track for about a mile. At mile 1.95 cross the first bridge and begin a steady, single-track climb through a cool, lush valley, crossing the stream 11 times. At mile 3.4 leave the stream and begin a 0.4-mile lung-burning climb. This section is steep but short. Keep pushing; it will be over before you know it. At mile 4.0, turn right at the junction for a short 0.2-mile climb to the top. The descent is rocky but fast. Take a moment to enjoy the great view of Mt. Evans to the south. Descend the 4 or so switch backs to Aid Station #1 at mile 5 located at the junction of Lion and Buffalo.
Aid Station #1 to Aid Station #2 (6.9 miles) — Climb the Buffalo trail (double-track dirt road) for 1.2 miles to the metal gate. Turn left at the gate and head to the west end of the campground parking lot. Take the trail to the right of the restrooms. The course follows the faint trail off the right of the trail shortly after the restrooms. The main trail turns to the left and the course goes to the right on an old faint trail. Turn right when you reach the trail and climb .5 miles up the Snowshoe Hare Trail to the Aspen Meadows Campground. At the road, veer to the left and head west on the road to the restrooms. Take a left on the Snowshoe Trail just before the bathrooms. Follow this new trail all the way down to the service road and turn left. This road goes to Dudes Fishing Hole. Take this steep road and right as it starts to flatten out, take a hard right on the hidden Snowshoe Trail. This trail might be hard to see if you are flying down the road, but it will be well marked on race day with a course marshal here. If you cross the stream across the road you have gone too far. Continue the steady climb, pass the spur to the right that goes to Aspen Campground, up to Mule Deer Trail. Cross the road and follow the single-track up. Take your next right on Mule Deer. From here the trail traverses and travels through beautiful lush forests. Veer left at the next junction, staying on Mule Deer. (This spur would take you to Gap Road) Cross Gap Road and follow Raccoon Trail. Take a right at the next junction. Enjoy a mile descent and know that what you go down you must come up! Take a moment to enjoy the great views of the divide from here and the aspen groves. At the bottom you will cross a bridge and run past some willows. Turn left and start a .75 mile climb back up to Gap Road. (A right here would dump you out onto the road). Continue straight up at the junction to the Reverends Ridge Campground. Turn right at the next junction, continuing up and cross Gap Road. After crossing Gap Road, follow the single-track up a short hill and enjoy the mile descent to the Coyote/ Mule Deer junction. This junction will not be so obvious to faster runners, and many have missed it, despite significant markings, so be looking for it. Turn left on Coyote which begins one of the toughest climbs of the race. Aid Station 2 is just .1 mile ahead on Mountain Base Road. There are restrooms and picnic tables here. This is a great place for crew, friends, and family to meet you.
Aid Station #2 to Aid Station #3 (4.9 miles) — This climb up Coyote is tough, but the reward is worth it. The breathtaking views of the divide are unparalleled, so be sure to turn around and enjoy them when you get to the top of this 1.4-mile climb. The top is a rock scramble, so follow the cairns and trail markings, keep your head up and you will stay on the trail. Another fun, fast descent down the east side of Coyote takes you through peaceful forest and aspen groves then drops you in the center of the wide-open spaces of Fraser Meadow. Continue past the NEW Mule Deer Trail on your left at about .4 miles down from the top. (you will be coming back to this junction at about mile 19.7) Continue down Coyote for about .3 miles and turn right on Mule Deer. Stay straight on Mule deer, passing the Horseshoe Trail to the next trail junction. Turn left at the Grouse Trail junction in a handful of steps take a right to Black Bear. Black Bear is 2.7 miles of navigating a ridgeline with lots of rocks and boulders. The trail seems to disappear as you scramble up and down rocks. If you keep your head up, you will see the trail markers. Over the next 2 miles you will descend 1,100 ft. Like I said, this section is technical. Travel at a comfortable speed, keep your eyes ahead, and pick up your feet! No Diggers! After the long, fast descent you will come up onto a junction on your left that traverses over to Horseshoe. Again, if you are not aware you can miss this junction. After the descent into Horseshoe Trail cross the foot bridge and turn right for .1 miles to Aid Station #3 and your drop bag at mile 17.4 at the Horseshoe/ Fraser Meadows Trailhead. All racers much check-in to this aid station.
Aid Station #3 to Aid Station #4 (7.7 miles) — Be sure to stock up well and take plenty of water. You are now heading out in the heat of the day, heading up for a long climb and a hard 7.7 miles. After stocking up and changing gear, head up Horseshoe for a steady 1.1-mile climb and take the 1st right you see. The next .75 miles to the Mule Deer junction has some pretty steep sections, but keep pushing and remember it is all part of the fun. Enjoy the wide-open views of Fraser Meadow again. Take a left on Mule Deer for .1 mile then go right on Coyote where you came down after the big climb after aid 2. Head up Coyote for .32 miles. Turn right on Mule Deer for 1.4 miles. Enjoy this NEW single-rack section of the course. Take a right and head down the Snowshoe Connector Trail, cross the road and continue on the Snowshoe single-track trail down to the Dude’s Fishing Hole road that you were on at mile 7.3 in the race. Turn right on the road and head down towards Dude’s Fishing Hole. Just before the lake turn right and head up the Snowshoe single-track Trail. From here there is a little more than a 200-foot climb in less than a .5 mile. It is rocky and annoying to most trail runners, but it is all part of the fun. Just remember, it seems worse than it really is. When you get to the top of this first rocky climb, know you have 3 more before you descend to the Buffalo Trail. After a good descent, you will come up on a 4-way junction. Turn right and dead down the Buffalo Connector for .1 miles and turn right on Buffalo. Enjoy a fast descent down buffalo road back to Aid ¼ at mile 24.4.
Aid Station #4 to Aid Station #5 (4.9 miles) — Stock up on energy for the steep, 1,100-foot climb to the top of Windy Peak. Count on this being a long climb on a south facing, exposed mountain side. It could be a hot climb. It could also be a cold rainy climb like in 2012 for the middle and back of the packers. From the aid station head right down Lion past the pond. Climb up the gradual short hill and go left and stay on Lion Trail at the city lights ridge trail junction. Continue down a bit further and turn left on the Burro trail. (You need to be here by 3:15 p.m. to be allowed to climb Windy Peak. If you are not here by 3:15 p.m. you will be directed straight on Lion for the 1.2 mile to the finish). Enjoy the short, steep descent and know you must climb back up it at mile 29.5 in the race. This next section through the lush, stream-side willows is one of my favorite parts of this course. Take it all in as the grueling 1,100 ft ascent is just ahead of you. Turn left at the first junction just after the stream crossing that heads to the top of Windy Peak. This is a steep, relentless, southern exposure climb in the heat of the day. But just remember when you are suffering at this point that it is all worth the great view from the top of Windy Peak and that the descent is fast and furious! Climb approx. 1.4 miles and turn left at the next junction. Stay straight, veering left at the next junction, staying on Burro to the top of Windy Peak and remember, the lower part of this mountain is steep, but not as steep as at the top. Save a bit of steam for the last .5-mile climb to the top of Windy Peak. Make sure to get your bib marked at the top of Windy Peak. Take in the beauty that surrounds you, do a dance, and turn around and head back down. Stay on the Burro Trail, again staying straight, veering right at the cut-off to Lions Loop and go left at the Burro junction where you came up from the right. Enjoy this screaming, long descent. At the bottom of the mountain, turn right at the next trail junction. Go right on the service road where you will find Aid Station 5.
Aid Station #5 to Finish (2.6 miles) — With just a few more short climbs and a fast downhill you will be chowing down, soaking in the cold mountain stream, and enjoying post- race camaraderie before you know it. Continue downhill and straight on the service road for a short bit. Take a right on the Burro singletrack. Stay right, following the creek bed up the trail. Pass the junction which you took to climb Windy Peak and head back up the short climb back to Lions Loop and Burro. Turn left on Lions Loop. From here you have 3 short climbs on the ridge heading back to the parking lot. Each successive climb is easier than the previous one. After this 3rd little bump, enjoy the fast downhill back to the parking lot. At the bottom of the steep descent into Nott Creek Road turn right and head toward the finish line. The crowd will be cheering you all the way in!