August 12 ~ Watoga Mountain Trail Challenge

5K Race Route

Sponsored by the Watoga State Park Foundation

5K 8:40 a.m.

The Watoga 5K race route starts near the Beaver Creek Campground check-in building. The first mile along the campground road and down to the end of the grassy airstrip feels nearly flat, gaining only 80 feet to the end of the airstrip and then descending 40 feet on the way back to where it turns west into the woods and heads up a ridge through hardwoods and pines.  It climbs at a moderate rate about 270 feet to a wildlife feed lot where there is an aid station. This is the high point of the course.  From there it’s downhill through hardwoods, then hemlocks, then pines to a lovely stretch through rhododendrons along Beaver Creek.  The course joins the Allegheny Trail to continue through rhododendrons and returns to the grassy airstrip – a cool finish for a 5K race in August.

Half Marathon Race Route

Half Marathon 8:30 a.m.

The Watoga Half Marathon is staged from Watoga’s Beaver Creek Campground. The first half mile is a loop along the road and the airstrip to the Allegheny Trail which passes through the park, then  2.1 miles of single-track trail take you to the Laurel Trail which runs .5 miles to the picnic shelter. A park road goes past the former stables area and joins the Bear Pen Trail for a short way.  Turn right on the Busch Settlement Trail, which climbs about 1.5 miles to the North Boundary Trail. The North Boundary Trail is a forest road.  In 1.5 miles you reach the other end of the Bear Pen Trail and descend to Island Lick Branch, then pass along the branch to Watoga Lake and connect to the Lake Trail after 1.9 miles. The Lake Trail takes you to the Recreation Trail, and in about .5 miles to the T. M. Cheek trailhead at Pine Run.  That trail climbs .5 miles to the T. M. Cheek Road, which connects to the Honeymoon Trail in .25 miles.  In 1.6 miles you reach the Allegheny Trail again.  From that point it’s 2.0 miles back to Beaver Creek and the finish. Distances in this description are rough approximations.  The entire race route has been measured accurately.

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