This trip combines Randolph Wild Hiking Trail #202
, Sipsey Wild Hiking Trail #209
, and Rippey Wild Hiking Trail #201
to make a remote, wild loop through Sipsey Wilderness. It is extremely difficult along the Sipsey Wild Hiking Trail #209
section since the trail is unmarked and there are no bridges over the streams. There are many sections that are thick with undergrowth and that will have fallen trees. You'll also have to find your way in and out of steep creek beds. Needless to say, it's not a trail for amateur runners! If you are prepared to seek out nature, this is the loop for you.
There are no bridges, amenities, or trail markers. Be prepared to be running in the wilderness.
Starting from the parking area, the first section of this loop follows the Randolph Wild Hiking Trail #202
. It follows a well-maintained roadbed up to an old cemetery. The cemetery is very old, with some of the oldest gravestones I've seen. Once you pass the cemetery, the trail becomes singletrack. It is still well-traveled (although not marked), so the going is easy all the way down to the Sipsey River Valley.
Once in the valley, all bets are off. By now, you're on 209, but the trail is really more of a suggestion, as lack of maintenance and use makes the trail indistinguishable throughout most of its length along the Sipsey River. As long as you keep the river in sight, you'll make your way through the wilderness. Just be aware that the "trail" will be overgrown and there will be many obstacles in the way. This is by no means a leisurely run.
At the end of 209, increased use provides a discernible path through the wilderness. At this point you'll be on your way to joining the Rippey Wild Hiking Trail #201
. The climb out of the Sipsey River Valley is steep, and there is a stream that runs along the path. The rocks are slippery, but it provides a unique experience. 201 is well-maintained, with a few muddy spots, but your boots will already be muddy from 209, so you should hardly notice.
This trail is not for amateurs. While it can be done in a day, you'll be challenged. It is one of the most remote areas that I have experienced and is well worth the effort.