The High Lonesome 100 is a high flying Colorado mountain race transecting the southern end of the expansive Sawatch Range. Starting and ending near Mount Princeton, the loop course takes trail runners along soaring ridges, through idyllic meadows, basins and forests, across 5 alpine passes, and into two ghost towns. Runners will be treated to 25 miles of the National Scenic Continental Divide Trail and 30 miles of the classic Colorado Trail. This course is wild, tough, and relentless, but with each aid station captained by a 100 mile race veteran, we'll give you the push you need to succeed. We firmly believe that this is one of the best trail ultra marathon courses around, but don't take our word for it...come run it yourself!
***Please note: Due to trail damage near Williams Pass, we have made some changes to our original route. We have also moved our starting location to make it easier for runners and their crews. Based on current conditions, we don't anticipate needing to make any more changes to the route***
Location: County Road 321, Mount Princeton, Colorado
Distance: 99.1 miles
Average Elevation: 10,600'
High Point: 13,150'
Low Point: 8,150'
Total Elevation Gain: 24,500'
Cut off: 36 hours
Course type: 66% single track, 21% mining roads, 10% gravel roads, and 3% paved roads
We're pretty proud of our course
When we designed the route, we wanted to it flow organically, we didn't want it to feel contrived. We certainly didn't want it to be multiple loops or a huge out and back, and most importantly, we didn't want it to be easy.
What we came up with is a rugged, 100 mile, 24,500' vertical gain, trail loop. With 15% of it above tree line and the average elevation just over 10,600', it's a lung burning Colorado mountain race.
You'll start at the base of the massive Mount Princeton in a open meadow. Four miles of gravel roads lead you to the Colorado Trail, one of Colorado's most famous and beloved trails.
For the next few miles, the fast and rolling single track runs along the base of the mountains. At Browns Creek, you'll begin the climb to 13,150' under the shadow of the fourteener Mount Antero. Not only will the climb be breathtaking, but so will the views - you'll be able to see the entire course from the top. After you've soaked in the scenery, begin the quad-crushing descent into the St Elmo ghost town.
The next section is so pretty we make you run it twice. The 6 mile out and back (12 miles total) is gorgeous, rewarding you with sweeping views of the rugged Collegiate Peaks Wilderness at the top of the pass. Don't be fooled though, the descent into cottonwood creek is steep and rocky, and the climb out doesn't come easy.
After returning to St Elmo, an easy mining road provides a respite from the climbing until you reach the (low) summit of Tin Cup Pass and the Continental Divide Trail.
A long section of single track will run you through two expansive basins until you reach the old ghost town of Hancock. From there, a short section of mining road leads you to the trail to the quick and steep Chalk Creek Pass.
After descending Chalk Creek to Boss Lake, runners face the final crux before the finish line...a high, exposed section of rolling alpine single track on a broad undulating ridge. Brace yourself, the wind is wicked up there and it's an easy place for thunderstorms to blow up suddenly.
It's this section that gave us the name for our Colorado mountain race. It's lonely up there, and your only company will be the wind, sky, and soaring hawks.
Eventually, you'll reach the top of Monarch Pass, where it's all downhill from there...well, mostly. A rolling section takes runners over Monarch Pass to Fooses Creek. This is the last time runners are above treeline, and the remaining section has a substantial net loss.
A 6.5 mile descent from Monarch pass on a mining road drops 2,500' and brings runners to the longest continuous section of single track...20 miles on the fast and flowy Colorado Trail. It's trail running and ultra marathon heaven and it's what makes our 100 mile trail race such a unique experience. After spending the past 80 miles high in the mountains, runners get to finish the course at a (relatively) low elevation and soak in the views as they work their way to the finish line. Be warned, this is an unsuspectingly hilly section so don't take it for granted.
Eventually you reach the gravel road you started on and only 4 miles remain before you wrap your hands around that bottle of whiskey and handmade belt buckle. It's a great place to have friends and family join you and share in the last few miles. We snuck in one small last climb, but once you crest it, the finish line is in view. Be sure to run those last few steps, there will be a crowd watching and cheering you!
Congratulations, you just finished one of Colorado's toughest 100 mile trail races.