August 4, 2021
The Trails at ACE Adventure Resort
ACE Adventure Resort is located in the heart of the New River Gorge and has over 35 miles of groomed trails spread over 1,500 acres. The New River Gorgeous Trail Run highlights the best trails ACE has to offer and will take participants on some stunning race routes. There are three race options including a 10K run, half marathon or a 5-mile walk. As we put together the 20th running of the Gorgeous Trail Run we wanted to break down the race route and give you a little preview of the course.
All three races kick off right next to the ACE Adventure Waterpark. Runners will sprint around the lake and dash into the woods on the newly named Thurmond Overlook Trail. This narrow 1-mile trail will lead racers out to the Concho Overlook, which is one of the most spectacular views on the entire course. This spot is standing 800 feet above the town of Thurmond and overlooking a panoramic view as the New River as it completes a 180-degree bend in its course here. Definitely worth and extra minute or two to take in the view and snap a selfie at the first water station here.
Leaving the Concho Water Station and participants will climb uphill a short distance to complete a loop around Thurmond Mountain. This 3-mile loop rolls gently up and down as it contours around the mountain. Arriving at the second water station runners will cross a short valley to begin their journey across Wonderland Mountain. After making another short climb to a colorful pond in the woods 10K runners can look forward to a roughly 1-mile downhill sprint to the finish from this point. Popping out of the woods the final dash towards the finish line is along a mixture of paved and gravel roads. Once you see the waterpark and hear roar of people splashing about you will have the finish line in sight.
Half marathon runners will follow the same route as the 10K racers for the first half of their run. Once the two routes break apart our long distance runners will get a fantastic tour of the Froghopper Trails following a hardwood forest around Wonderland Mountain. The trails start off contouring fairly nicely with some ups and downs along the way. Around mile 7 the third water station is found along the Mountaintop Campground Road.
Once across the road and onto Froghopper North racers will be some of the first to experience a new section of trail just completed for the race. Here the trail will stay low on the hillside skirting the campground and festival grounds where Mountain Music Festival happens every June. Once past the events area the trail climbs back up the hillside and remains at a steady elevation for the next mile.
Popping out of the woods behind New River ATV a nice open field that is ACE’s disc golf field is perfect for turning on the jets and going fast. Leaving the field will drop runners back down into the gorge. Some fantastic rhododendron lined trails will bring racers down Rush Run Creek and to Erskine Trail located about halfway down into the gorge. The next two miles toward the finish are hands down the best part of the trail!
Erskine trail is relatively flat for more than the first mile. There are some openings offering beautiful views on the river and the town of Thurmond. As participants pass by the old mining entrances used over 70 years ago they are just below the Concho Overlook encountered at the beginning of the race. The last bit is a little brutal, as you must climb 300 feet out of the gorge along Arbuckle Creek. As you push through the uphill pain you are treated to views of waterfalls along the creek. Once out of the woods at ACE’s main entrance it is just a short jaunt around the lake to and to the finish line where you get to claim your New River Gorgeous Trail Run medal!
Want to get out and experience the event, see the trails, but not really a runner? No worries, the 5-mile walk a perfect option for non-runners. See some of the best parts of the trail and do it at your own pace. Walkers get a wonderful tour of the race route including the Concho Overlook, parts of Thurmond Mountain and Wonderland Mountain plus stops of 3 or the 4 water stations on the half marathon. Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails with us this August!
Run Wild on August 21st
Sign up today and choose between the half marathon, 10K run or 5-mile walk. All racers will receive a 2021 Gorgeous Trail Run medal when you cross the finish line. Plus a free burrito lunch and camping Saturday night is all included with the registration cost. Stay the weekend and play at the waterpark, go zip line or whitewater rafting while visiting America’s newest National Park. Look for opportunities to sign up for adventure activities when you register to race. Get excited and get ready to run wild this August at the 20th running of the New River Gorgeous Trail Run!
Chris Colin is a raft guide, whitewater kayaker, active caver, and as Special Events Coordinator at ACE he manages, promotes, and executes special events like the Mountain Music Festival.