Runners and hikers will enjoy the 13-mile course of single and doubletrack trails with some portions of fire roads. The contestants will be subjected to rocks, mud, downed trees, stumps, roots, woodland creatures, and small stream crossings. Competitors will scale challenging ascents with scenic vistas before the final downhill to the finish line!
Watch your footing on the wooden bridges; when wet due to rain or dew, they're very slick.
The Dam Half has a total elevation gain of 2,300 feet with several climbs and a few boulder fields mixed in to test your legs (and wits)! Between the climbs, there are some nice flat and rolling sections winding through beautiful hemlock and pine forests with stream crossings here and there. The toughest climb of the event is near the end; the "Stairway to Heaven" is a challenging singletrack climb with over 700 feet of elevation gain within a half mile straight up the side of Naked Mountain. But once you summit, it's 1.5 miles all downhill to the finish!
The Dam Half starts out on the plush, rolling, hemlock needle-covered Nature Trail within R.B.Winter State Park which takes you westward to the park boundary. Participants will then cross over Rt.192 and turn south on the West Boundary Trail, which winds downward to Rapid Run. After crossing a little bridge over Rapid Run, you'll get warmed up on the first climb of the event, a nice bouldery section of singletrack on the north face of Brush Mountain. After summiting, follow the well-defined singletrack down the south face of Brush Mtn, where you'll pick up the well-known Mid-State Trail.
After turning west on the Mid-State, you'll find a gradual, plush singletrack climb for the next mile where it then plateaus for a while. After mile 3, the Mid-State gets pretty rocky in a few places. Pay attention to your footing, as you don't want to go down so early in the race! After another gradual climb and plateau with rocky sections, you'll head north on Douty Mill Trail. Crest a small ridge and head down into a dense white pine and hemlock glade. Your feet will love this! You'll come out onto a gravel driveway where Aid Station 1 is. If it hasn't already, the fun is about to begin!
Right after Aid Station 1 and crossing back over Rt.192, you'll hit two semi-short, but steep climbs in a row on Frederick Gap Trail, crossing over Hough Mtn, then Tunis Road, then McCall Mtn. Beware the steep descent down the north side of McCall Mtn! The north side is very steep with loose rocks. At the bottom of the hill, you'll cross Jamboree trail—a grassy Jeep road.
Shortly after you cross Jamboree Trail, you'll turn east onto Black Gap Trail
. After about a mile, you'll turn left onto a segment of Jamboree for a short bit before continuing onto the eastern end of Black Gap Trail
. This part of Black Gap Trail
is defined by a dry streambed with lots of rocks at the beginning! After a while it turns into plush singletrack through a hemlock stream valley. At the end, you'll turn left onto Black Gap Road heading down to Aid Station 2. After the aid station, you'll turn east onto White Deer Creek Trail
which is a mixed bag of smooth and rocky singletrack, gently rolling and slightly downhill. You'll find another small stream crossing near the end.
You'll turn right (south) onto McCall Dam Road and see the final aid station, Aid Station 3, right off the bat. Fuel up for the final climb of the event… the dreaded Stairway to Heaven on Rocky Corner Trail
! You'll have a gradual uphill approach on the gravel road until you hit the Stairway, which will feel like a brick wall. The Stairway starts off very steep in the beginning, and... pretty much stays that way for the next half mile until the top. You'll know when you hit the top, because you'll have a beautiful field of white Tuscarora boulders at the top of Naked Mountain to greet you. But look at the bright side, it's all downhill from here!
Watch your step across the boulders heading down the south side of Naked Mountain. Rocky Corner Trail
will be all narrow, winding singletrack to the bottom with rocky sections at the top and bottom, fairly plush in the middle. At the bottom, you'll turn onto Boiling Springs Trail which is a nice, plush piece of singletrack to take you to the finish at the pavilion. Congratulations, you made it!