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blueBlack Vista Verde Skyline Run - Marathon

  5.0 ( 1 ) Favorite


26.8 mile 43.1 kilometer loop
89% Runnable


Ascent: 4,268' 1,301 m
Descent: -4,269' -1,301 m
High: 2,614' 797 m
Low: 1,755' 535 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 24% (13°)


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Trail shared by Robert Rhodes

The marathon course at the Vista Verde Skyline Run.

Robert Rhodes

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


Racers will enjoy stunning vistas of the Pacific Coast and of the spectacular Lambert Creek Watershed, Butano Ridge, Portola State Park and the newly opened Mindego Hill! Revel in tree-covered singletrack and wide open trails that roll through pristine grassy meadows, along serene ponds, and over smooth flowing creeks. There is no doubt that the views and trails out here are sure to impress all who participate.


The run starts in the circular parking area in the northern part of Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve. Runners will head south along the dirt road, pick up the Ridge Trail in the south lot and run alongside Horseshoe Lake. Take a sharp left up the Sunny Jim Trail and get your first big climb in.

At the trailhead for Ipiwa, go left and run along the ridge and check out the gorgeous views that extend out to the coast. Runners will cross over Sunny Jim and follow Ipiwa along Alpine Pond. There is a water stop here so fill up if needed. Follow the ribbons and head through the tunnel to the parking lot for Russian Ridge. Pick up the Ridge Trail at the bathroom and start a gentle climb into a vast expanse of open meadows and rolling hills. At the Charquin intersection there are ribbons that mark the turn for the half. Run past these and continue along Ridge Trail and make a left turn down Hawk Ridge Trail. Follow it to the intersection with Charquin, run through the forest and out to the Mindego Hill Fire Road.

Once there, go right and stay on course to the peak of Mindego Hill. Aid will be provided at the gates where you gain entry into the preserve. The cows out here are friendly but the young ones can be a bit skittish. If you encounter any, use caution and try to move past them at an unthreatening pace. Pick up your token at the turnaround then hand it off to the aid station volunteer back at the gate.

Continue along the Mindego Hill Trail/ Fire Road all the way up to Alpine Road. Head left and run alongside the parking lot and pick up Ancient Oaks Trail. Enjoy the shady woodlands and continue to the junction with Ridge Trail. At Ridge, head right and go back through the parking lot and tunnel (more water if needed), run a short distance along Ipiwa Trail and take a left on Sunny Jim Trail. Runners will meet up again with Ipiwa where they will take a left and follow it out to the starting line. Run straight on through and start your journey south for the second half of the marathon.

Again, runners will head south along the dirt road, pick up the Ridge Trail in the south lot and run alongside Horseshoe Lake. Take a sharp left up Fir Knoll Trail and continue to the intersection with the Farm Tree Trail. Here you'll go right and run through the Christmas Tree farm. When runners reach the Chestnut Trail, head right and stay on course to the junction with Ridge Trail.

Soon, runners will reach another demanding climb when they take a right up Long Ridge Trail. This wooded stretch of trail will connect with a brief stay on Ward Road before hooking up with Hickory Oaks Trail. Continue to the aid station where you'll turn and start your return home. As you head back down Ward Road, pay close attention to the right turn you'll take on Peter's Creek Trail. This dense forest drops down to a scenic pond (no swimming), and a long stretch of flat and peaceful running. Runners will stay the course along Ridge, Chestnut and Tree Farm trails following the markings to the finish.

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