Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run
24 August 2019
Cascade Crest is a challenging 100 mile trail run through the Central Cascades of Washington State. The course currently runs as a clockwise loop from the Easton Fire Station. Cascade Crest has a well deserved reputation as one of the best 100 mile parties out there.Want to know why? The best way to find out is to run this ultra! Taking place in the summer, the race promises to be exciting and fulfilling.Be prepared for a hilly run as some of the ascents are extreme. Despite this, however, you will not regret running this 100 mile!
The course remains a clockwise loop starting and ending in Easton, WA. The course runs predominantly through the Wenatchee and Snoqualmie-Mt Baker National Forests.Start to Tacoma Pass: This section has some steep, hot climbs and is underestimated every year. Don’t use up too much energy too early. You will leave the fire station and make your way along part of the John Wayne Trail before cutting through a private residential neighborhood to a series of foothills and dirt roads that lead to the start of some tight switchbacks up to Goat Peak. After a short while, you will hit the first aid station in a clearcut that is the result of some recent logging activity a little over 4 miles. For veterans, this is where the aid station has been since 2012, not the old location on the road at the base of the trail. We are moving this aid station to where it was last year to shorten the distance to the Cole Butte aid station to around 6 miles. Remember to thank Jim Kerby and Ron Behrmann before you head up the hill. There may be dirt bikes on this section. If so, please be patient and courteous. Beware of bees as there is often a beehive shortly after leaving the road. The climb from the Start up to Goat Peak is not trifling. To put it in perspective, it is essentially the same elevation gain and mileage as the climb up to the Escarpment at the start of Western States but with tougher footing and you'll do it in the heat of mid-morning. Do not take Goat Peak lightly. Many CCC DNFs start on this climb. If you have aspirations of course record glory, by all means, take off. For the rest of you, settle in, downshift a gear and drink on the climb.As you pass by the rock outcropping on Goat Peak, you can basically see the entire course to the North and West. Pause to soak in the view. The next section along the ridgeline to Cole Butte has some nice rolling single track with good views into the peaks to the south. The trail can be brushy in some sections and cants heavily to the left at times so take it easy. It is too early to roll off the side of a hill. Eventually the singletrack trail will spit you out onto an old logging road. This is the location of the Cole Butte Aid Station, at almost 10 miles. Due to poor road conditions, the Cole Butte aid station will be minimally stocked, but there will at least be water and some minimal calories. Please thank Carol and Chris for making the trek out here to get water to you!! At the top of this road there is a nice view of Mt. Rainier. After you leave here you’ll cruise along the old logging road and wind down about 1,500’, across another logging road and then back up about 1,500’ to the third station at Blowout Mt. (15m), ably captained by Todd Wagnon. The road gets pretty rough before the Blowout Mtn aid station. Depending on how badly the winter snow moved the rocks around the aid station may be a bit lower down. The road is not kind to low clearance vehicles. Don’t linger for too long as the PCT awaits in another few miles. You will spend the next mile climbing up (yes, up) from Blowout Mt. towards the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail. Just before the intersection with the PCT, you will see a sign pointing towards Manashtash Ridge. Turn left here. Follow this to the actual Blowout Mountain before joining the PCT a couple miles south of where you turned left (you were just a few feet from the PCT when you headed towards Manashtash Ridge) When you get to the PCT, be sure to take a right here. If you miss this turn and cross the Columbia River into Oregon, you’ve gone too far.You will spend the next ~32 miles on the famous Pacific Crest Trail. Make sure you understand what the PCT trail markers look like. We generally do not mark the PCT except for some key intersections. It is pretty easy to follow as long as you are paying attention. When you get to about where you turned left towards Manashtash Ridge, there will be a light aid station at about 19 miles, run by Killer Deese from San Diego Ultra Running Friends. Please show your gratitude as Killer and crew had to pack this all in for you.Then, after a really nice and generally downhill section you will pop out at the Tacoma Pass aid station (25.4m), which is also the first crew access point. If you are feeling the heat of the afternoon this is a good spot to take minute and make sure you are getting enough fluids and calories. Eric Sach and the crew from The Balanced Athlete in Renton, WA will get your fed, fueled and on your way.Tacoma Pass to Hyak: Almost all on the PCT. A drop down the famous roped section to the John Wayne Trail and through the tunnel to Hyak. Most of you will see half of this section in the dark. The PCT is not a difficult trail but it is not fast. Don’t panic if you are moving at 3.5 - 4 mph. Be sure to leave Tacoma Pass with full water bottles. The next section to Snowshoe Butte is long (about 7 miles) and you’ll be in the hottest part of the day and some of the climb out of Tacoma Pass is in logged huckleberry meadows (full sun, ripe berries!!). The terrain has moderate ups and downs all the way to Stampede Pass. Snowshoe Butte Aid Station (32m) is accessed via a ¾ mile bushwack hike carrying all of the water and supplies, so be sure to thank Jeff Hashimoto (2014’s Second Place Finisher) and the Ellensburg cross-country team!! They will have fluids and a few light snacks for you. If you expect to be at the back of the pack, We suggest carrying a small light from Tacoma Pass which may mean sticking it in your pack from the start. You will have about 10.5 hrs to get to Stampede Pass before it’s dark and if hot weather might slow you down consider bringing a light in case you need it for the last couple of miles. Remember, if it rains (which happens on occasion in WA), it will get dark earlier.Once you leave Jeff and his crew at Snowshoe Butte you are only about 3+ miles from Stampede Pass and your drop bag (if you are using one). About 1.5 miles from Stampede Pass you will start to pass under a series of power lines. There are three sets of power lines and the last one is the widest. You'll know it because in the middle of the clearing the trail does a sharp turn to the right and then back to the left. When you hit the trees after that clearing you've got 0.3 miles to the aid station. Stampede Pass (36m) is being run this year by Ian Burton. There is a cutoff at Stampede Pass at 8:30 PM. You MUST leave here with lights for night running. Even if you are one of the leaders, you must still have a light for the tunnel!From Stampede Pass you've got approximately 14 miles on the PCT to Olallie Meadows with the Meadow Mountain Aid Station about halfway along. These are longish sections (about 7 miles between stations) but the trail is moderate with decent footing and some nice older growth sections. After climbing up out of Stampede you'll pass through rolling trail and at 5 miles out you cross a forest service road just after passing over Stirrup Creek. The PCT signs / blazes are easy to follow, just keep an eye out and don't turn off on any dirt roads. The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) has done a LOT of work on this section of the trail over the last few years and expects to have a crew out on race day, either before or after Stampede Pass. Please remember to give them a shout and thank them profusely for the work that they've done to make your race more pleasant! Meadow Mt. station at 43 miles (approx.) is at a forest service road crossing. The aid station is just beyond the road. Have some soup, raviolis, and/or a quesadilla and consider the adventure ahead in the night to come. Meadow Mountain is ably captained by Herb Reeves, one of the bunch running the Capitol Peak Ultras). New from 2015 onward: No crew access at Meadow Mtn AS.Leaving Meadow Mt. you make a gradual climb up and over a ridge and past a sign saying that you are leaving the national forest and entering the Cedar River watershed. At this point the trail leaves the trees and you are in an old clear cut. You will drop downhill from the ridge to Yakima Pass. There is quite a bit of brush through the section and if it is damp out your legs will be soaked most of the time, as will your feet. As you come down into the saddle of Yakima Pass you will cross a few old logging roads and you will pass a pond on your right with a trail sign marking Yakima Pass. The PCTA has done a lot of work on this section of the course this year and you should feel appropriately grateful as you run through the improvements in this area.From the Yakima Pass sign the trail switchbacks up to Mirror Lake. There are some creek crossings that should be an easy hop at the end of August. Just before reaching Mirror Lake you leave the clear cut and reenter the trees. There will be almost certainly be hikers camping at the south end of Mirror Lake. They are there to enjoy the weekend in the wilderness and did not expect a steady stream of runners to roll through all evening. Try to be quiet as you pass through, especially if passing through after dark. This is not an aid station. Keep on truckin'; you've got 5 miles to go. Savor the pretty run along Mirror Lake. It is one of many reasons why we really like the Cascades. It is about ½ mile around the east (right) side of the lake and shortly after leaving the lake you'll hit a trail intersection. Stay to the left (do not go right). You'll climb from the lake up about 500 ft on gradual switchbacks. At the top of this climb pay attention and again, stay to the left. A trail to Twin Lakes goes to the right and downhill and the PCT goes to the left. The mileage sign is old and illegible so trust me, just stay to the left. The next 2.5 miles or so to the Olallie Meadows aid station (49m) are very pretty. The trail is rolling and generally downhill. If you are fast enough you can enjoy the views before the sun sets. This is a good section to regroup, shake off the heat and get an appetite so you can enjoy the pirogues. As in years past, Scott McCoubrey and company will take good care of you here.Leaving Olallie Meadows you will stay on the PCT for about a mile before leaving the trail to the left for a steep downhill on a rough gravel road. After approx. ½ mile of steep downhill on the road you will plunge into the woods on the right and bushwack your way down the hillside to the John Wayne Trail through the Snoqualmie Tunnel. There will be fixed ropes to get you down a couple of tricky sections. It is steep and can be slippery here so please use the ropes and take your time. Most of you will do this in the dark. Be patient and careful please! You’ll come down to the John Wayne trail and head to the right towards the railroad tunnel. This bears repeating: when you finish the rope section and hit the John Wayne Trail (an old railroad bed) GO TO THE RIGHT. Note that this is the same John Wayne Trail that you began the race on 22 miles further east and 50+ miles earlier!The tunnel is one of the unique features of Cascade Crest. It is cool and damp inside and about 2.3 miles long. Make sure your flashlights are working well! Exiting the tunnel you’ll follow the old railroad bed trail for less than ½ mile until you hit a parking lot.Remember that once you get to Hyak you have a long paved and dirt road uphill climb where you can let your quads recover. The Hyak station is managed by Jenny Appel and the Puyallup Y Run Club. They have a fondness for Christmas which may be evident as you collect yourself for the second half of the run. Fuel up and make sure you have the right clothes and lights for the rest of your night running. Cut-off here: 3:00 AM. Hyak to Mineral Creek: A relaxing starry night climb up and over Keechelus Ridge with a chance for some good fast downhill running before the trials and tribulations of the Lake Kachess Trail, aka the “Evil Forest” or the “Trail from Hell”. If it's not cloudy, there should be a bit of moonlight late at night, but don’t count on this.You will leave Hyak by going TO THE LEFT and keep taking lefts until you button hook around and are running up the access road with I-90 on your right. Then cut under the freeway toward the old aid station location at the Gold Creek Sno-park lot. This area will be marked heavily but pay attention. Those parking lots can get confusing after a full day in the woods… Do not turn left onto the I-90 off ramp (although you would not be the first), take the next road to your right, the paved access road just to the north of I-90. You’ll be on pavement for just under 2.5 miles and then the road will turn to dirt and begin to climb away from the freeway. While there are a number of spur roads that branch off there is only one legitimate intersection between the change from pavement to dirt and the time you get to the Keechelus Ridge aid station. The intersection is 1.5 miles after you go from pavement to dirt and it is 4.8 miles from the Hyak aid station. The road will fork in a Y and you will go LEFT and uphill. Other than that fork in the road (the one where you turn LEFT) there are no other turns of consequence. Remember that once you get to Hyak you have a long paved and dirt road uphill climb where you can let your quads recover. The Hyak station is managed by Jenny Appel and the Puyallup Y Run Club. They have a fondness for Christmas which may be evident as you collect yourself for the second half of the run. Fuel up and make sure you have the right clothes and lights for the rest of your night running. Cut-off here: 3:00 AM. Hyak to Mineral Creek: A relaxing starry night climb up and over Keechelus Ridge with a chance for some good fast downhill running before the trials and tribulations of the Lake Kachess Trail, aka the “Evil Forest” or the “Trail from Hell”. If it's not cloudy, there should be a bit of moonlight late at night, but don’t count on this.You will leave Hyak by going TO THE LEFT and keep taking lefts until you button hook around and are running up the access road with I-90 on your right. Then cut under the freeway toward the old aid station location at the Gold Creek Sno-park lot. This area will be marked heavily but pay attention. Those parking lots can get confusing after a full day in the woods… Do not turn left onto the I-90 off ramp (although you would not be the first), take the next road to your right, the paved access road just to the north of I-90. You’ll be on pavement for just under 2.5 miles and then the road will turn to dirt and begin to climb away from the freeway. While there are a number of spur roads that branch off there is only one legitimate intersection between the change from pavement to dirt and the time you get to the Keechelus Ridge aid station. The intersection is 1.5 miles after you go from pavement to dirt and it is 4.8 miles from the Hyak aid station. The road will fork in a Y and you will go LEFT and uphill. Other than that fork in the road (the one where you turn LEFT) there are no other turns of consequence. You should always feel like you are on the primary dirt road and do not get pulled off onto any narrower, less-maintained spur roads. It is 8 miles from Hyak to Keechelus Ridge aid station and it can feel longer than that. You are basically climbing the entire time once you transition from pavement to dirt on NF-4832. This is a good section of the course to recoup and look up and enjoy the stars if they are out. Adam Stritzel is heading up the Keechelus Ridge station again this year. When you leave the aid station, there is another major intersection about ¼ mile up the road. You will go LEFT and UPHILL at the intersection. Another ¼ mile after that intersection you will crest out at the top of Keechelus Ridge and the road will bend sharply to the left and begin to descend. From this point on there are no major intersections until the turn just before the Lake Kachess aid station. Just keep trucking and stay on what is clearly the most well maintained road. The downhill section into Lake Kachess aid station is one of the fastest sections of the course if you want to make up some time. It is a long section so prepare both your quads and your mind. It will probably take longer than you think it should. Just before the aid station you need to turn left at a road intersection so be aware and looking for the turn. The aid station is not in the Lake Kachess campground. There is a cutoff here at 8:00 AM. Lake Kachess aid station (69m) is another good place to size things up as it is easy to get back to Easton from here. Once you leave Lake Kachess you’re going to have a long journey to the finish one way or the other as there are not any close and easy places to drop out the rest of the way. If you drop after Lake Kachess you will need to wait at the aid station until it is packed up. If you are right on the cutoff at Lake Kachess you need to really feel good to get to the finish. This is a good place to be realistic about your prospects. Jeff Wright is captain of Lake Kachess, which is a drop bag station and also a good place to pick up a grilled cheese sandwich.Leaving Lake Kachess aid station we will send you on a bushwack trail that cuts up and over a ridge and then down to the start of the trail along the West edge of Lake Kachess, often referred to as the ‘Trail from Hell”. This section of trail is a lot less of a bushwack than it once was and you can thank the runners of years past for making your way a good deal easier! There was a large bridge at the very beginning of the Trail from Hell that was damaged by winter storms and dismantled by the forest service. You will need to log hop across the creek and scramble up the other side - you will find out how agile you feel at this point in the race, whether you use the logs or just get wet. The trail follows the lake shore although you are generally up and away from the lake a bit. There are a couple of washout sections where the footing is quite precarious. One of these was repaired by a trail work group organized by CC100 veteran Arthur Martineau a couple years ago after it had completely washed out over the winter. Please move carefully through this section. After 4 miles along the lake trail you’ll pass the north end of the lake. This is a clue to be paying close attention and looking hard for a right turn. At the 4.6 mile mark (from the time you initially joined the lake trail) you will take a sharp right turn from trail #1312 to trail #1331. Pay attention for this turn. It is really easy to miss. We always mark it heavily but we’ve had people step over ribbons blocking the incorrect trail completely and keep going. The best thing you can do to avoid getting off course here is to remind yourself that as soon as the lake is not visible off to your right, start looking for the righthand turn that will take your around the lake’s northern end. Once you take the right turn onto trail #1331 it is about 1/3-mile to Mineral Creek. You will cross the creek to access the aid station and you may get your feet wet (but probably not this time of year). The total section from Lake Kachess aid station to Mineral Creek aid station is just under 6 miles long and looks quite benign on the elevation chart. At night on tired legs it can wear you out. It is rocky, root-strewn and rolling with dozens of short, steep gullies. Take your time and be careful. I encourage you to look at the split times for this section from previous years so you can get some perspective (the fastest known race-day split is by Gary Robbins in 2014 at 1 hour 19 minutes for these 6 miles!!). There are tricky sections of trail in here that require prudent, cautious navigation. Worry about speed on the other 95 miles of the course. Terry Sentinella and Delores Feyer-Sentinella and the Skagit Runners will again be taking great care of you here. Mineral Creek to the Finish: A long uphill dirt road with great views followed by single track with even better views and steep, short climbs, followed by an epic downhill single track interrupted by the results of an epic avalanche. A bit of log climbing before arriving at the Silver Creek aid station. Then ~4 miles of re-entry to civilization on Jeep trails, dirt roads and pavement back to Easton. You will leave the crew at Mineral Creek and embark on a long gradual climb up a well maintained dirt road. It is a total of almost 7 miles and almost 3,000 ft of gain by the time you hit the next aid station at No Name Ridge. About 2 miles out of the Mineral Creek aid station you will come to the crew access point at a road junction. There is also an unmanned water drop another mile or so up the road. There are three intersections between Mineral Creek and No Name Ridge. Be sure you are confident about these turns. We will have them marked well and we have never had trouble on this part of the course with people moving makers but be sure to stop and double check your navigation at any intersections if you are not confident about the route. Eventually you will bend around a few final road switchbacks and arrive at the No Name Ridge aid station (81+m). We are sure there are secret plans in the works for some sort of theme party up here. Laura Houston, ably assisted by Betsy Rogers, is in charge at No Name this year. Be happy, you’re now back onto single track for the next 15 miles! The cutoff here is 12:30 PM.The next section is the prettiest and toughest on the course. We will have it marked with ribbon and there are reflective trail markers on the trees. There are some great views along the way of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and the Stuart Range. Don’t forget to pick your head up and enjoy the scenery. The trail is pretty overgrown and faint in some sections. There is not a great deal of foot traffic between No Name Ridge and the next two aid stations, Thorp Mtn, and French Cabin. The short, steep climbs that give this section its name explain why there are not many visitors. The Cardiac Needles are a series of short but steep climbs between No Name Ridge and just after French Cabin. There are basically 6 climbs (but who’s counting?) including the one up to the Thorp Mt lookout. The first one is the worst of the bunch (you’ll know it when you get there).Four miles after No Name Ridge you’ll reach the Thorp Mt. aid station (86+m) and make the out and back climb up to the lookout cabin. There is very likely a Ranger living in the lookout tower so, to avoid waking her/him up when the front runners come through, we’ll have you stop a bit short of the very top. You’ll retrieve a marker at the top to verify that you covered the full climb and you’ll turn in your marker to the aid station crew at the bottom of the climb. Thorp Mt. aid station will have limited fluids (plan on 20 oz. per person) and some snacks. This all gets hiked up several miles on the backs of an incredible crew of volunteers led by Sharon and John Carlson. Feel free to heap effusive praise on your aid station hosts if you have any energy left. Also, be sure to top off your fluids before leaving No Name Ridge aid station and ration from Thorp to French Cabin if it is hot and you are running low. It is 3+ steep and challenging miles from Thorp to French Cabin (89m). The good news is the views can be spectacular. French Cabin aid station (no, there is no cabin here anymore) is in a picturesque saddle and when you leave here you’ll really have just one legitimate climb left in the 11 miles that remain. Pat Ackley will be running French Cabin again this year. Once you grunt up the final steep switchbacks out of the French Cabin basin it is time to shake out your quads and get ready for downhill. Trail #1315 will take you all the way down to the Silver Creek aid station, captained by Jack Wiley. There is a cutoff at Silver Creek of 6:15 PM. There are basically three sections to the Silver Creek trail: steep downhill, moderate downhill, steep downhill. There are several stream crossings in this section as you cross and recross Silver Creek. This section is very runnable and great fun if you have anything left at this point. From Silver Creek to the finish line is 4 rolling and flat miles into and though Easton and back to the fire station. You’ll be smelling the barn.
Highlights include about 30 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, passage through the 2.5 mile Snoqualmie Tunnel, and lots of tall trees and tough trails!
There are 4 drop bag locations. They must be dropped off at the designated spot at the fire station on Saturday morning between 7:00 – 8:30. Drop bags will be returned to the fire station for you to retrieve. It is your responsibility to reclaim your gear before you go home.
There will be 16 full aid stations and 2 water only aid stations.
Lake Easton State Park is the nearest place to sleep to the start.
Entrants must complete an organized trail 50-miler or longer between January 1st and July 31st, OR have completed an organized trail 100-miler ever. There should be no ambiguity that your qualifier is a "trail" run.
The time limit for the race is 34 hours.