August 17, 2023
New River Gorge Wilds Trail Run Course Highlight
The New River Gorge Wilds Trail Run is coming to ACE Adventure Resort on October 7th. We’ve been working really hard to put together a challenging, scenic and fun course to run. In fact, we have designed three different options for racers to choose from. Tackle all 26.2 miles and sign up for the full marathon or choose to take on the half marathon. For newer trail runners or folks not up for the longer distances we routed a beautiful 5K run on some of our favorite trails to the Concho Overlook. Lets take a look at the course and some highlights runners will see along the way.
The first part of all three race routes will take participants into Arbuckle Canyon. Runners will drop almost 600 feet in elevation as they make their way past cliffs and waterfalls towards the New River. About halfway through the descent the 5K route will split off along Erskine Trail and meet back up with the main course just before the climb up Eagle’s Eye Trail to Concho. The main route will reach a creek crossing of Arbuckle Creek. Depending on the water level of the creek the crossing may involve stepping from stone to stone and keeping your feet dry or committing to a knee deep immersion to get to the other side. Just past the creek crossing, the trail climbs through the abandon coal town of Wee-Win gaining just over 200 feet to meet up with the Rend Trail. This nice railroad grade will end around mile 3.3 where the course transitions to a roadway leading participants to the town of Thurmond.
Tour De Thurmond
After passing the Rend Trailhead the course will take racers down a short section of road to cross the New River into the town of Thurmond. A full loop will be made of the town giving participants a quick tour of the historic town. The ruins of Thurmond include some major structures still standing including the commercial row, the coaling tower, many houses and even the old train depot. A water station will also be located in Thurmond next to town hall. Once the full town loop is completed racer will retrace their path back to the Rend Trailhead, back up the rail trail, down through the town of Wee-Win and back to Arbuckle Creek rounding out 9 miles.
Climb to Concho Overlook
The next 3 miles are the toughest part of the entire course and feature an 800-foot climb from the bottom of the gorge all the way to the top. Just past the Arbuckle Bridge participants will be treated to the second aid station of the course at ACE’s overnight campsite and the old town of Erskine. Leaving this aid station is where the climb begins, first taking racers up Rush Run along some steep sections to cross River Road. Here there is a little less than a mile of relief as Erskine Trail contours nicely along the side of the gorge. The second part of the big climb will bring the route up Eagle’s Eye Trail to the Concho Overlook at mile 11.75. This is the spot where the 5K run rejoins the main course. Concho Overlook features the prettiest view in the West Virginia including views of Thurmond, where racers just came from. The third water station will be located here at the overlook before racers finish the climb up Thurmond Mountain.
Just past the overlook our participants running the half marathon and the 5K routes will turnoff onto Blackwater Trail where they will be making their final 1.5 mile push to the finish line. Of course our full marathon runners will just be hitting their groove at this part of the course. The Blackwater trail is relatively flat and the last section will be on roads heading downhill towards the finish line.
Thurmond Mountain to Truman Lake
Topping out at about 1,900 feet in elevation racers will reach the Thurmond Mountain turn. Here runners get a bit of relief over the next 3 miles as this trail contours around the mountain and actually trends slightly downhill towards the next aid station at the 9-Way. At this location 9 different roads and trails converge, so knowing which trail to take is crucial. Fortunately our friendly aid station volunteers will be happy to point you down the correct path here at mile 14.9.
From the 9-Way racers will take the Buck Trail downhill and back towards the headwaters of Rush Run. Soon you will be running through an expertly cut path right in the middle of a rhododendron thicket. Popping out of the thicket and crossing a dirt road participants will be treated to one of ACE’s newest trails looping around Truman Lake. This trail is mostly flat on the elevation graph and rolls up and down as you travel out and back along the many fingers of Truman Lake. Take notice to all the hard work our resident beavers have put into making their home here. Leaving the Truman Lake area around mile 17 will take runners through another section of elevation gain to the highest point on the course at just over 2,000 feet. Another water station is located at mile 18.2 towards the top of this climb.
Woods Running At Its Best
Hitting the highest point at mile 18.5 you are greeted with incredible views looking out of the Mountain State. Here the race route will wrap through ACE’s disc golf course and back into the woods along Froghopper North Trail. The next 7 miles to the finish feature some of the best woods running trails around. Much of the trail is well established and flows up and down as it contours along. Runners will cross the Mountaintop Road where the trail changes to South Froghopper. The trail characteristics on the south side are much the same with a few rocky sections to keep you on your toes. The last water station is found near the end of this Froghopper trail and another spot many trails converge.
From the last aid station racers will drop down a steep hill to the Aspen Cove Trail where they will head back to the west and through Deer Hollow. Making a few switchbacks as the route drops down the mountain runners will pop out of the woods onto the main ACE Loop Road. From this point a little less than a mile of easy road running will lead the full marathon racers to the finish line.
Sign Up Today
Hit the trails and run wild with us this October! We know you are ready to meet the demands of this challenging trail run in the New River Gorge National Park. Choose between the full marathon, half marathon, or 5K run. All three routes are exciting, scenic and challenging. Sign up before the end of August and score a free race shirt. All racers will get a medal at the finish, burrito buffet and free weekend camping included in the registration cost. There is also over $1,000 in prizes for top finishers in each of the three races. Good luck and we will see you at the start line!
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.