This is a very tough and arduous course. Of course we do not wish to scare any one away and want as many people to participate as possible but also want runners and hikers to know what to expect.
25K COURSE DESCRIPTION
The course is very technical single track with substantial elevation gain. The 25K has 2982 feet of elevation gain. Here is a link to a Garmin of the 50K course. https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2383002470
For the 25K, you will turn around at the top of the mountain around mile 8.7. (yes, it's longer than 25 kilometers but there is no charge).
The entire course follows the Ouachita Trail which is clearly marked by blue blazes. A few critical junctions will be marked with flour and/or ribbon but otherwise the course should be really easy to follow. If you do not see blue blazes and thus are not on the Ouachita Trail, you have gone off course. But there are no trail intersections of any significance and so as long as you stay on the trail and follow the blue blazes. You should be good to go.
The race begins at Pushubee Trailhead. To get to Pashubee Trailhead, travel north of Big Cedar, Oklahoma on Hwy 259 for approximately 1 - 2 miles. You will see a sign that says Pashubee Trailhead and will proceed East for approximately 4 miles on a forest road and that road will take you to the Trailhead. Signs will be posted to direct you from Hwy 259.
Coming from the North, you will go approximately 4 miles South of junction 259 and hwy 1 (Talimena Scenic Drive) until you come to the sign that directs you to the Pashubee Trailhead which is approximately 4 miles East on a Forest Road.
The course starts at Pashubee Trailhead and heads west. The course follows the Ouachita Trail the entire route which is marked by blue blazes. Runners will go 3.7 miles on the trail over and down one significant climb back to hwy 259 and another trailhead and parking area. Runners will cross the highway to the first aid station.
Immediately after the aid station, runners will cross a creek which if there has been rain, there may be ankle deep water.
|Water crossing is ankle to shin deep.
After the water crossing, runners proceed on a steady climb. You are beginning to climb the Winding Stair Mountain. At mile 5 is a cool rock glacier which is very scenic.
|Rock glacier as seen from the trail. You will
cross right over the top of the glacier.
At around mile 6 is the Red Cedar Spring. You could even refill water here if you need to though it is not an aid station. Just past the spring is a 4 wheel drive/jeep trail. Do not follow this, stay on the single track trail. Remember - follow the blue blazes.
Continue climbing past a hiker campground at a steady climb and around mile 7, the trail begins to descend to a small saddle. At this saddle is where the real climbing begins. This section of the Ouachita Trail has 33 switchbacks (hence the name of the race) to the top of Winding Stair Mountain! The views will be incredible and unlike anything you would ever expect in Oklahoma.
|Maybe the most spectacular view on the course, just prior
to the 25K turnaround.
|Aid Station at mile 8.8 (turnaround on top of Winding Stair Mtn)
The climb ends at an old fire tower at the top of the mountain which is mile 8.8. In 2013, a new hiker shelter was built here and the aid station will be at the shelter. It is really nice. There will be a limited aid station here because we will have to hike in supplies but it should be plenty to fit your needs. All runners will turnaround here and descend the mountain and follow the course back to where they started.
Aid will come again at the Hwy 259 Trailhead which is mile 14 on the course.
25K runners will then finish there out and back run back at the Pashubee Trailhead which will actually give then a total distance of 17.7 miles.
50K COURSE DESCRIPTION
Follow the same course as the 25K but at the mountain top aid station, you will continue going after checking in at the aid station. The 50K has 4763 feet of elevation gain. Again, here is a link to the GPS -
The next 1.4 miles is very smooth on an old roadbed with a lot of descent as you come off the mountain. This will probably be your fastest mile of the entire course. Here you cross the Talimena Scenic Drive and continue West (do not take the Mountain top trail). From here you have just under 4 miles to the Horsethief Springs Picnic Area Aid Station. There are three intersecting trails on this section. The Mountain Top Trail, Billy Creek Trail and then the Horsethief Springs Trail. All of these trails are blazed with white or yellow blazes. OT is blue blazes. ONLY FOLLOW THE BLUE BLAZES. We will have additional ribbons marking these intersections so hopefully you will not be tempted to take them.
While there is not near as much elevation change on this section, it is very technical.
|Not an uncommon sight of how technical the trail
Horsethief Springs will have a full service aid station. Be sure to check in. You will hit this aid station twice.
|Road at Horsethief Springs off of the Talimena Drive
|The Horsethief Springs
|View from Horsethief Springs - That's World's Highest Hill in Poteau
approximately 35 miles looking north.
You will then go West for approximately 1.5 miles to the turnaround. We will have self-service aid there and a book. You will need to tear a page out from the book and bring it back to the Horsethief Springs aid station. Of course from there, you simply return the way that you came.
|You'll see this and other signs on the trail. When you see this sign
you are only 10 miles from the finish of the 50K and it's mostly downhill.