Start/Finish: County Road 321, Mount Princeton, Colorado (coordinates: 38.740282, -106.161237)
Distance: 99.8 miles
Average Elevation: 10,600'
High Point: 13,150'
Low Point: 8,150'
Total Elevation Gain: 22,500'
Cut off: 36 hours
Course type: 66% single track, 20% mining roads, 10% gravel roads, and 4% paved roads
For a more detailed view of the course, be sure to download the full course map. KMZ and GPX files are also available. For those printing on a standard 8.5x11 sheet, the course is broken down into four Quads. Not seeing something? Shoot us an email.
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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 or ugly.
What we came up with is a rugged, 100 mile, 22,500' vertical gain, trail loop. With 15% of it above tree line and the average elevation just over 10,600', it's a lung burning 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. After a brief climb to get out of the valley floor, the trail winds gently through a gorgeous forest of aspens and ponderosa pines.
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 5,000’ 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 Chalk Creek Valley. Once you’ve finished the massive descent, several miles of fast forest roads take you into 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 Laws Pass. Don't be fooled though, the descent into the Cottonwood Creek drainage 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 Continental Divide Trail, a few miles below the summit of Tin Cup Pass.
A long section of single track will run you through two expansive basins until you reach the old ghost town of Hancock. This section has a reputation for breaking wills, and many runners reach the Hancock aid station in rough shape. From there, a short section of mining road leads you to the trail over the quick yet steep Chalk Creek Pass. The climb up the pass is gorgeous, and for many it’s where you can watch the final rays of sunlight slip behind the horizon.
After descending Chalk Creek into the Middle Fork basin, runners will stop at the gorgeous Lost Wonder Hut before continuing down the basin to the Boss Lake trail head. Here runners face the crux of the race...a high, exposed section of rolling, alpine single track on a broad, undulating ridge. The climb to the ridge oscillates between short, steep sections and gentle, rolling basins. In the middle of the night, the climb seems to never end and you can see trail of headlamps from fellow runners slogging up to the ridge. Once you reach the ridge, it rolls brutally for 5 miles above treeline. Brace yourself, the wind is wicked up there and it's an easy place for thunderstorms to blow up suddenly.
It's this long rolling section that gave us the name for our race. It's lonely up there, and your only company will be the wind, sky, and stars. Eventually, after what seems like forever, 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 net loss.
A 6.5 mile descent from Monarch pass on a mining road quickly 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. Many a runner has dismissed this section during their training and planning, only to find themselves death-marching it in for hours and hours.
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 know you’ll hate us for it, but there is one small last climb. It’s not long, but if you listen carefully from the finish line you can hear the curses floating over the treetops from tired runners. Stay strong, because 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 on!
Congratulations, you just finished one of Colorado's toughest 100 mile trail races.
Want to see more of the course? Scroll down and check out some of our favorite images.