Saturday, Sep 28, 2019

Whistler Canyon Trail 50

Whistler Canyon Trailhead, WA

Oroville, WA 10 Miler, 50 Miler

This Event Took Place Sat. Sep 28, 2019

Cancelled Event



The safety of our runners, volunteers, and community is the number one priority, therefore, we have cancelled the Whistler Canyon 10 and 50 mile races. We hope you all have a fun and safe summer of running.

Race Description

Enjoy an autumn run through golden larch, quaking aspen, and evergreens in north central Washington. Keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep and mule deer as you ascend the single track through rocky Whistler Canyon and up to Black Diamond Lake. The trail then opens up to old logging roads being reclaimed by the forest. This race takes you through sagebrush-steppe and montane forest ecosystems, with sweeping views of the valley below.

Total Distance: ~50.3 miles
Elevation Gain: ~8260 feet

Total Distance: ~9.6 miles
Elevation Gain: ~2600 feet

Course Map

Course Profile

Aid Station Distances

*Crew access available at Start/Finish and all aid stations EXCEPT McDonald

*Hole punch your bib at Mount Hull Summit

Detailed Description Part I

The Start/Finish Area
The start/finish area is located just off highway 97, about 14 miles north of Tonasket and 3 miles south of Oroville. The parking area is directly across from Gavin Road (east side of highway 97) and the gravel road is bright white with good signage but can be easy to miss. This gravel road ascends a short hill arriving at the circular parking section. The trail begins directly from the parking area, so it will be easy to park, check-in, and hit the trail all from the same location.
As one scans the surroundings, there is a thriving orchard to the north, a rocky cliff face to the south and east, and the confluence of the Similkameen and Okanogan Rivers to the west. Sagebrush and grasses dominate the landscape at the start, but this quickly changes as the race ascends up the canyon and into the wilderness.
Start to McDonald Aid Station 7.3 miles total
The trail begins to pitch upward almost immediately, the first climb of the day begins at about 1000ft and ends at 2100 ft. The trail switches back through a stunning canyon that is surrounded by cliffs, and steep granite slopes. The vegetation diversifies as one climbs, the sagebrush and grasses persist, but are soon accompanied by roses, juniper, aspen, and ponderosa pines. A meandering stream follows the path of least resistance down to the rivers below. The trail wavers between packed earth, crumbling rock, and stair stepping granite to challenge the bodies somatosensory system. In addition to the obvious geologic features and flora, this stretch is also home to a herd of Bighorn Sheep and with a keen eye and a little luck, one might be catch a glimpse of these illusive mountain dwellers.
The first 2 miles of the course weave through the canyon and offer panoramic views of the dramatic landscape. From various vantage points, the Cascades are visible in the distance as well as the Okanogan River valley and the town of Oroville to the north. However, after passing through a green cattle gate, almost all at once, the course shifts into a thick pine/larch forest. At mile 2.2, there is a trail junction with a sign for Black Diamond trail, make a left here, cross a small wooden bridge and loop around the Black Diamond Lake. After an undulating 4 mile detour around the lake, rejoin the “100 trail” (the main trail from the start is called the 100 trail), and follow it to the McDonald/100 Junction. This is the first aid station and is a welcome sight in the dense forest that feels miles from civilization. At this point in the race, the total distance is 7.3 miles and the vertical gain is roughly 2500 feet.
McDonald Aid Station to Wilcox Aid Station 15.7 miles total and 8.4 from last aid
Head right out of the McDonald Aid Station towards the Overlook. As the trail continues to weave through the thick forest, keep a look out for large ungulates – Apryle and I spotted Moose scat in this section of trail in our course scouting. Also in this stretch the Larch will take center stage with their golden foliage. But in case the forest is becoming too repetitive, the trail opens up, offering incredible views of the valley and distant mountains to the west. At mile 11.4, there is a junction with the Wild Horse Springs Trail, take this trail to the right and continue to gradually ascend until reaching the Wilcox aid station at mile 15.7. The Wilcox aid station will be lively and there is crew access here via Forest Service Road 3525. This section is about 8.4 miles with approximately 1000 ft of vertical gain.

Detailed Description Part II

Wilcox Aid Station to Junction Aid Station 18 miles total and 2.3 from last aid
A quick little jaunt along the 100 trail until reaching the junction with 3525 road. This stretch travels through thick forest and gains about 450 ft over single track trail. Even though Wilcox aid station is fresh in the memory, upon reaching the Junction Aid Station take a minute to top off the hydration pack and grab some more food, the next aid station is 9 miles away.
Junction Aid Station to McDonald Aid Station 27 miles total and 9 from last aid
Next to the canyon, this is my personal favorite section, every race should have at least one summit… Go ahead and jump on the gravel forest road and take a well deserved break in trail surface difficulty. Follow Forest Service Road 3525 to the Summit Lake Trail, which is on the left after about a mile. From here enjoy the running along the banks of the inviting waters of Summit Lake. This flat stretch is short lived as the trail heads to the right and you begin the kilometer long ascent to the top of Mount Hull ensues. As far as peaks go, it is nothing too strenuous, several switch backs with about 400ft of climbing, but at this stage in the race it be quite energy draining. Punch a hole in the old racing bib and bomb back down to the forest road. This is an out-and-back section so there may be racers coming down simultaneous to racers going up, but the trail is wide. But be sure to take a minute to take in the aerial view of Summit Lake.
After returning to the forest road, make a left and continue running the gradual grade of 3525 to the 255 Road.This will be the least demanding section of the race, but after roughly 4.5 miles of forest road, the road turns into the notorious McDonald Trail and bares its sharp teeth. This trail is narrow and somewhat overgrown and promises to provide an unforgettable leg massage. Fortunately, this trail is only about 1.4 miles and is almost all downhill, with a net loss of close to 1000ft. Be vigilant for flagging, and course markings. Apryle and I will be putting in a lot of effort to make this section obvious, but it is far and away the most difficult to follow section of the course. With that said, enjoy the challenge, especially after the buttery smooth forest road section that precedes it. The McDonald Trail ends at the McDonald aid station. This will be the second time for this station and after 9 miles and 1500 ft be sure to refuel.

Detailed Description Part III

McDonald Aid Station to Junction Aid Station 35 miles total and 8 miles from last aid
From the McDonald aid station, continue down the 100 trail towards the Overlook, passing through the golden Larches and peering out over the Okanogan valley for the second time. This is the first overlapped section of the course, and Apryle and I felt that it was so beautiful that it should be done twice. However, at the junction with Wild Horse Springs, this time make a left to continue along the 100 trail and enjoy about 2000 ft of climbing to the Junction aid station.
Junction Aid Station to Wilcox Aid Station 37.3 miles total and 2.3 miles from last aid
Some more overlap of the 100 trail, but this time in the opposite direction, and therefore downhill. Top off the hydration bladder at the aid station in preparation for the 8.4 mile journey to the next aid station.
Wilcox Aid Station to McDonald Aid Station 45.7 miles total and 8.4 miles from last aid
Gradually descend the Wild Horse Springs trail through the beautiful pine/larch forest and take in the beauty of the forest one last time. At the 100 trail junction veer left and follow the 100 trail as it dives southwest. Pass by the viewpoint along the 100 trail a third and final time, enjoying a pass in the opposite direction of the previous two times. We will provide food, water, and encouragement for the final 4.3 miles of the race at the McDonald aid station.
McDonald Aid Station to Finish 50 miles total and 4.3 from last aid
Continue down the 100 trail toward the WC trailhead, passing by the Black Diamond trail (unless 54 miles seems more appealing). The forest abruptly ends after passing out of the green gate and that all familiar canyon from the morning is a welcome sight. The vegetation returns to the sagebrush, rose, ponderosa pine mix and the grand stage of the Whistler Canyon wilderness comes into the forefront again. The Okanogan valley comes into focus, the metal roofs of Oroville glisten in the sun, and the blinding white gravel parking lot comes into view. Muster up the last bit of energy, bound down the switchbacks, keep eyes fixed on the runner ahead, and kick into the finish.
We hope that everyone enjoys their time in this incredibly special place. Even though Apryle and I call Issaquah, Washington our home, we are always called back to this unique landscape nestled in beautiful Okanogan county. In our preparation for this race, Apryle and I have often said that we are quite jealous of the opportunity to run this 50 and 10 miler. The diversity of terrain, trail, vegetation, and wildlife is like no other place we have run in the state and we hope that it inspires all the participants to explore beyond the beaten path, think outside the box, and try out a new place.

Surrounding Area

The Whistler Canyon 50 and 10 miler is not only a great opportunity to test yourself on a challenging course, but also a perfect excuse to explore the beautiful, wild, and sparsely populated Okanogan county.
It is both the largest county in the state and one of the last areas to be settled due to its remoteness.
With only two stop lights in the entire county, traffic is not a problem.
There is something for everyone, all within an hour of the course:
Orchards and Wineries abound with ideal climate for growing various fruits, and there are plenty of chances to taste test at dozens of local shops and restaurants.
The course is just south of Canada’s only desert (Okanagan Desert) if international travel is on the agenda.
Steeped in culture, the area is full of ghost towns including: Molson, which has full-scale buildings including an old school house as well as antique mining and farming equipment.
There is excellent fishing on the adjacent waterways and both Chinook and Sockeye Salmon run up the Okanogan and Similkimeen Rivers every autumn.If 50 miles is not quite enough for you, the course follows a portion of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. This trail travels from the Pacific Ocean through Washington, across Idaho and to its terminus at the Continental Divide in Montana.
Perhaps the race does not have enough vert? There is rock climbing access from the parking area with over 90 (mostly bolted) routes. Difficulty ranging from 5.3 to 5.12+. 
Maybe you would prefer to relax and scope the surroundings for wildlife, with a species list that includes: Big Horn Sheep, Moose, Mule Deer, Mountain Lion, Black Bear, and Turkey, you might be fortunate enough to spot one of these majestic creatures.


Weather Conditions

Typically sunny and precipitation unlikely. 

Average High Temperature: 70 degrees Fahrenheit (Record High 82)
Average Low Temperature: 42 degrees Fahrenheit (Record Low 27)

Sunrise: 6:53AM and Sunset: 6:45PM

Event's current local time: 7:14 PM PT


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