Trail Run Project Logo

blue North Fork 50k

  4.7 ( 3 ) Favorite


32.6 mile 52.5 kilometer point to point
92% Runnable


Ascent: 4,481' 1,366 m
Descent: -4,486' -1,367 m
High: 8,060' 2,457 m
Low: 6,846' 2,087 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 20% (11°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Dave Caldwell

The race route for the North Fork 50k.

Dave Caldwell

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Park is not open until sunrise and closes one hour after sunset.


A gently undulating tour of Pine Valley Ranch park and Buffalo Creek, as well as portions the of Colorado Trail. This route is mostly singletrack, with a few sections of wide track

Need to Know

It is an open course; expect to see hikers, runners, and mountain bikers coming from both directions.

The are several burn areas that are completely exposed to the sun for several miles at a time. Make sure you have adequate sunscreen and a hat!


The race starts and finishes in Pine Valley Ranch Park, a Jefferson County Open Space park located in Pine, Colorado. Directions can be found in the race information. The start is on the Narrow Gauge Trail, next to the lower parking area. The first 1/3 mile is on the Narrow Gauge Trail along the North Fork of the South Platte River, from which the race gets its name. Then the course turns left across the bridge and heads up into the Pike National Forest on the Buck Gulch Trail. After about 2-1/2 miles of climb on Buck Gulch, some of it quite steep, runners turn left onto Skipper Trail for a nice mile of downhill, after which the trail becomes gently rolling but still more up than down on Skipper and Homestead (right turn) Trails to the Homestead aid station at 5.3 miles.

From the aid station, runners turn onto Charlie's Cutoff to do the 4.8-mile "Charlie's Loop," a fun descent on Charlie's Cutoff and Homestead (right turn) Trail for about half that and then a climb up Miller Gulch (sharp right turn) back to a right turn on Homestead Trail and a second visit to Homestead aid station at 10.1 miles.

Runners then turn around and go back down Homestead to Miller Gulch Trail, turn right and head gradually uphill for just over a mile on Miller Gulch and Gashouse Gulch (left turn) Trails, and then a big downhill begins on Gashouse Gulch to the Buffalo Creek aid station at 14.7 miles.

After 4/10 mile of gradual uphill along Buffalo Creek, the 50K and 50 Mile courses split at 15.1 miles at the junction of Buffalo Creek and Tramway Creek Trails. The 50K turns left up Tramway, and the 50 Mile continues straight along Buffalo Creek. The course climbs up Tramway Creek Trail to the Colorado Trail, where the course turns left. The Colorado Trail section rolls up and down for 3.6 miles, the first half mostly up and the last half mostly down, to a left turn on the Shinglemill Trail, followed by a quick descent to the Shinglemill aid station at mile 20.2 (mile 38.2 for the 50 Mile).

From the aid station, the Shinglemill and Morrison Creek (left turn) Trails take runners back down to Buffalo Creek on a lovely 3.3-mile downhill. A left turn onto Buffalo Creek/FS 543 takes runners on a gentle uphill along the creek to the Buffalo Creek aid station at 24.3 miles.

From Buffalo Creek, the last big 3-mile climb begins up Baldy Trail, followed by a gentle section on Gashouse Gulch (right turn), Miller Gulch (right turn) and Homestead (left turn) Trails, taking runners back for one last visit to the Homestead aid station at 28.4 miles.

The 3.6-mile run from Homestead to the finish in Pine Valley is almost all downhill (just one more short climb!), some of it steep, on Homestead, which becomes Strawberry Jack, and Buck Gulch (right turn) Trails and then along beautiful Pine Lake (right turn), pictured above, to the finish line at the large picnic shelter.

Flora & Fauna

Wildflowers, butterflies, deer, elk.

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Runner Notes, History & Background

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.


Rate This Featured Run

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Run

Check In


Oct 21, 2018
Stephanie Butzer
Mar 31, 2018
Jay Watts
still some snow and ice once you get up high on buck gulch, skipper, homestead and gashouse but not bad

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 3 votes


  4.7 from 3 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Run Rankings


in Colorado


9 Views Last Month
674 Since May 24, 2017
Intermediate Intermediate


Trail Run Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Running