The Bighorn Trail 100 Mile Run is an arduous trail run that will take place in the Little Bighorn – Tongue River areas of the Bighorn National Forest. Starting time for the event will be 10:00 AM Friday, with a 34 hour (average pace of 2.94 mph) time limit to finish the event. Runners must be prepared for potential extreme temperature variation and weather conditions during the event. Temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day in the canyons and well below freezing at night in the mountains. The course is a wild and scenic traversing territory inhabited by elk, deer, moose, bear, cougars, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes with the potential for wildlife encounters with runners. Crew access points on sections of the course are limited and the runner should be prepared to carry a fanny pack and/or other necessary equipment to ensure their ability to safely traverse difficult, remote, mountainous trails in potentially unpredictable weather conditions. The course is an out-and-back consisting of 76 miles of single track trail, 16 miles of rugged double track jeep trail, and 8 miles of gravel road with approximately 17,500 feet of climb and 18,000 feet of descent.
The starting point of the course is on the Tongue River Canyon road approximately 1.25 miles from the Tongue River Canyon trailhead of trail #25 and approximately 3.5 miles from Dayton at the Tongue River fishing access parking area. Access to the start will be along the Tongue River Canyon road from Dayton. The runners will proceed westerly along the gravel Tongue River Canyon road to the Tongue River Canyon trailhead of trail #25. Participants will then ascend Tongue River Canyon on trail #25 climbing out of the canyon on an intersecting trail to Horse Creek Ridge. Runners will descend into the Sheep Creek drainage on the trail crossing Sheep Creek to access 4-wheel drive Road #198. They will proceed westerly in the Sheep Creek drainage along trail and 4-wheel drive road #201 to access road #168 (Freeze Out Road) at the head of Camp Creek. Crossing road #168, they will descend the Camp Creek drainage on trail and gravel road #168 to the intersection of 4-wheel drive road #149 with road #168 (head of the Dry Fork). Runners will then descend the Dry Fork drainage along 4-wheel drive road #149 to its intersection with trail #4 (Dry Fork Trail) at Miller Creek. They will continue northerly on trail #4 to cross the Little Bighorn River footbridge at the intersection of trail #4 with trail #50 (Little Bighorn Trail). From that point (Little Bighorn River footbridge), the runners will ascend the Little Bighorn River drainage on trail #50 crossing road #14 (Devil’s Canyon Road) and descend the Porcupine Creek drainage following the trail to the turn-around point at Jaws Trail head. The runners will subsequently return in the opposite direction on the same course to the starting point in the Tongue River Canyon. From that point, the runners will continue to descend the gravel Tongue River Canyon road to the finish at Scott Park in Dayton.
The elevation at the starting point of the Bighorn Trail 100 is approximately 4090 feet with the runners ascending the Tongue River drainage to Horse Creek Ridge at approximately 7450 feet at 7.5 miles (first 1.25 miles of rough gravel road, then 6.25 miles of trail). Runners then descend on the trail to the Upper Sheep Creek crossing at approximately 7450 feet at 8 miles and continue 1/4 mile to the fully supplied Upper Sheep Creek Aid station. The course subsequently ascends in a rolling fashion (3 miles trail, 1.25 miles 4- wheel drive trail/road) to Camp Creek Ridge at approximately 7854 feet at 12.25 miles. Participants then descend (0.5 miles trail, 0.75 miles gravel road) to the first crew/drop bag aid station at approximately 7480 feet at the Freeze Out Road saddle of Dry Fork Ridge at 13.5 miles. Subsequently, the course descends the Dry Fork drainage on a primitive 4-wheel drive jeep trail in a rolling fashion to the fully supplied Kern’s Cow Camp Aid station at approximately 6600 feet at 19.5 miles. The course continues on the east face of the Dry Fork Canyon on a scenic, rolling trail to Bear Hunting Camp with limited supplies at approximately 6800 feet at 26.5 miles. Runners then descend on a steep trail into the Little Bighorn Canyon to cross the Little Bighorn River on a footbridge at approximately 4590 feet at 30 miles (a fully supplied crew/drop bag aid station point). The course then ascends 3.5 miles on trail to Cathedral Rock, a limited aid station, then continues through the scenic Little Bighorn Canyon passing by Leaky Mountain to Spring Marsh at approximately 6920 feet and 40 miles. Runners continue to ascend via trail through the Wagon Box Creek, Duncum Creek, and then into Elk Camp, a limited supply aid station. The course then continues to Willow Creek drainage to cross Devil’s Canyon Road on the Bighorn Mountain divide at approximately 8951 feet and 47 miles. The course then descends the Porcupine Creek drainage (0.5 miles trail, 0.5 miles jeep trail) to a turn-around point at JawsTrailhead (a fully supplied crew/drop bag aid station) at approximately 8800 feet and 48 miles.
Runners return on the same course crossing the Bighorn Mountain divide at the trail crossing of Devil’s Canyon Road at 49 miles, descending by Spring Marsh at 56 miles, and continuing to descend to the Little Bighorn River footbridge at 66 miles (a crew/drop bag aid station). The course then ascends the Dry Fork drainage going through Bear Hunting Camp at 69.5 miles, Kern’s Cow Camp at 76.5 miles, and exits the Dry Fork Drainage at the Freeze Out Road saddle of Dry Fork Ridge (a crew/drop bag aid station) at 82.5 miles. Participants ascend to Camp Creek Ridge at 83.75 miles, descend the Sheep Creek drainage to the upper Sheep Creek crossing at 88 miles, and summit Horse Creek Ridge at 88.5 miles. The course then descends the Tongue River Canyon drainage to the Tongue River Canyon Road trailhead at 94.75 miles. Runners then descend the gravel Tongue River Canyon Road 1.25 miles going past the starting point of the race. Runners continue to descend on the Tongue River Canyon Road an additional 3.5 miles to Dayton crossing the Tongue River on a footbridge adjacent to U.S. Highway 14. They then cross U.S. Highway 14 in Dayton to finish 0.5 miles later at Scott Park in Dayton.
Trail markings will consist of frequent orange flagging tape attached to trees, bushes, and rock. Some orange flagging tape will be attached to wire flags in meadow areas. Lime arrows will be used at a few junctions on the course. Some of the orange flagging may have reflective tape applied to aid in visualization of the ribbon when traversing the course during the night. There will be occasional glow sticks used on the section of the course between Kern’s Cow Camp and Jaws Trailhead. Elk have been known to devour the markings on sections of this course in the past within 48 hours of the markings having been placed, despite the best efforts of race management.
The race committee reserves the right to respond to potential safety contingencies posed by potentially adverse weather conditions or other course conditions to make "last minute" course changes. If any such course changes are required, runners will be fully briefed at the Friday pre-race briefing.
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