Cayuga Trails 50 – The Course

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to check out the Cayuga Trails 50 course. Wow.


As you can see, right from early on, the course is rather amazing. However, even on some of the flat sections, like this one, you have to watch your step.


Here’s another flat stretch with a nice view!


There are lots of stairs on the course. Some of them are nice like these – some of them are just old boards/concrete stuck in the ground to prevent erosion. Those are a lot harder to run up!


As Ian, the race director, pointed out in his last email, the Upper Treman Gorge Trail is closed and won’t be repaired in time for the race. When I hit the “Closed” sign, I crossed a bridge, found this open gate, and went on through. Since there isn’t a new course map yet, I’m not sure if this is where the course will go or not.


This is the trail we would have been running up – as you can see, there is a gate blocking the way. How about that view though?!


The Old Mill is the first aid station (it will also act as aid station 5, 7 and 11). It’s a neat looking building and the section of the course after the Mill allows for some quick running. In fact, the entire section from “Old Mill” to “Underpass” is quite runable.


Shortly after the underpass, you get to the creek crossing. I think this is somewhere around the seven-mile mark (the first time through). When I went through, the deepest part of the creek was about two feet or so (of course, it’s supposed to rain quite a bit today). When you’re coming back through this area – toward the start – you may be able to jump the deep part because of the way the bank is set. No guarantees you’ll make it though!


My last picture is of the “steep hill” (Ian’s words, not mine). However, I can confirm that the hill is steep! In fact, as you can see in the picture, it’s steep enough that they gave it a plaque. I didn’t read the plaque, but I’m guessing it says one of the following:

Turn back now.
You’re so f*cked.
Steep Hill.
Sage was here.
“Are you having fun yet?” – I.G.

In all seriousness, I had to go down on all fours at one point – or at least three out of four – to get up one muddy, steep section. So there’s that! This section climbs about 750 feet of elevation over the course of 1.5 miles. It is legit!

Once I got near the top of the steep hill, I turned back and retraced the earlier sections of the course. Sorry I don’t have any info or pictures on the later sections – you can refer to Ian’s great descriptions on the race website.

My Impression of the Course

This course is awesome. It is extremely challenging. Not only do you have elevation changes to deal with (+/- 10,000 feet), there are lots of roots, plenty of downed trees that you have to jump over and creek crossings. This race will definitely be an adventure and I’m looking forward to it!

Do you like to preview courses before you race on them?

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23 Responses to Cayuga Trails 50 – The Course

  1. WOW! Amazing views, not sure I’d want to run it though…

  2. evygonzales says:

    hey great descriptions. me and my friends went up last weekend to run the course too. And the river crossing was up to my thigh when we crossed. we also had ran thru lots of mud at buttermilk. AND we saw a huge snake!

    • Jason says:

      I saw a big snake on my run last week (in Syracuse). I didn’t even know there were big snakes in this part of New York! That’s good to know about the mud – was it pretty deep? What did you think of the course?

  3. evygonzales says:

    the mud was really deep in some parts. my friend ran it last year and said that same area was also a mudfest. there were a couple small creeks after the mud so that helped getting some of the heavy mud off. that was snake alley.
    course was tough! I’m looking forward to DFL! haha

  4. Looks like a cool run. I don’t do much/any trail running but I love being in the woods.

  5. This course is freaking awesome but you’re right about that hill, that’s no joke. I’ve never scouted a run like this but I can really see how it would help.

  6. That looks beautiful! Would love to run there someday!

  7. Shawna says:

    wow that’s incredible. i so wish i was into trail running (and that there were places around NYC to do so…maybe there are?!). looks awesome.

  8. piratebobcat says:

    Wow, that looks like an amazing place to run/race!
    Sometimes races will post a preview video of the course, and I do watch them. I also look at the maps. I have yet to really scout out a course though. Maybe I should.

    • Jason says:

      I think it helps but it’s a pain in the ass! This race entailed several hours of driving and several hours of running and I still didn’t even see almost half the course! With that being said, I think it helps with my mental preparation.

  9. Chris P says:

    Awesome course! I would so love to do this, I love trail running. Best of luck to you!

    p.s – You’re right about Van Courtlandt park having running trails. If a person wants to run even further north, they can run on either the Putnam Trail or Old Croton Aqueduct trail which will take them into Westchester. The Old Croton Aqueduct trail, which is mostly a real trail, goes up to Tarrytown and beyond. The Putnam Trail ends just north of Millwood, but it’s mostly a smooth bike path, not a rocky trail. Late last December, I ran with a group from Bryant Park on 42nd street in Manhattan up to Tarrytown by running up 6th avenue, then going through Central Park, then west to the Hudson bike path and then finally the Croton Aqueduct trail – 28.5 miles total.

    As always, terrific running blog you have, Jason!

  10. This looks amazing and of course I’d want to run it!!! Can’t wait to hear how it goes for you!

    I look at a race’s course map but I don’t actually go to it. I like the first time I run it to be the first time I see it 🙂

  11. Jason,

    Thanks for the course preview! It’s helping my mental prep just seeing pictures and reading descriptions of some of the hilly sections – all my trail running has a hilly element to it, so hills don’t bother me, just have to string together 50 miles’ worth! I picked a heck of a first 50, but it’s gonna be an awesome experience. It’s a 5 1/2 hour drive for me, so I’ll be getting in to Ithaca early Friday afternoon. Should be plenty of time to get settled and do a little recon before the Ithaca Brewing event! Can’t wait!

  12. OMG! The views are sooo beautiful! My pup would have a blast!!! 😀 xoxo

  13. Looks extremely beautiful and challenging! I have only viewed the Boston course in detail so I knew what hills to expect when so I could get a realistic race plan together, but the other ones, I may glance at them at most. Most of my races are flat anyway,so no big anything.
    Trail running seems so much more interesting and tons more difficult!! I might want to give it a whirl.

  14. Kristen @ livinlifeinlouie says:

    wow! what amazing pictures. And the course looks like a lot of fun ( but im sure CRAZY challenging haha)

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