McNaughton Park Trail: Summer guide

I’ve talked about the McNaughton Park Trail Ultras several times before and posted photos of the course.

Some about the race

Photos of the course: today and earlier.

But today’s post is focused for the person who wants to hike the course over the summer or the trail runner (or walker) who wants to practice the course.

First, note that on race day, the race director (Andy Weinberg) marks the course very, very well. But his course markings are taken down after the race and the person who wants to train solo must make their own way. And, many of the entrances to the various trails are often grown over and hard to see.

So, this is how the course goes: it starts near where the road ends (a couple of permanent tee-pees) and goes down a hill (wide, sometimes muddy trail) into an open field. Once you get to the field, turn LEFT (old course had you going right) and go around the field. On race day, the course has a short cut, which is impossible to find at this time, so go ahead and hug the field and go all the way around.

Eventually you close in on a small trail leading up the hill; it is a bit hard to find:

This is the trail around the field; can you see the uphill entrance?

That’s it! (roughly 1 mile into it)

Go up the hill and out across the field past the big tree that you must pass by:

And the entrance is hard to see:

Now, you go through a forest area which has a few minor stream crossings (some mud), then up a hill and out; the trail is a bit overgrown here:

Go to the totem pole place. Then, one can follow the race course (I always get lost) or follow the red trail (which I do); the latter option is more muddy, but easier to follow.

You then go through some sandy trail and get to the first major stream crossing, which at the moment is pretty dry.

The creek crossing is about 1/3 of the way through the loop.

Here, it is possible to get lost; remember to follow the red trail, and at the first few “forks”, go to the right and away from the stream/creek. Then, when you get close to the bluff, hug the bluff (there is one left turn). “Red” is the color you want, NOT “orange”.

Along here:

and then keep going, until you see the red trail splitting off and going up a steep hill (called “golf hill”); yes it is steep and easy to miss. It comes at about mile 4.

This starts a 1 mile stretch that is very hilly; many steep drops and rises. When you come to a very steep drop, you encounter a nice foot bridge; that is half way. You still have some work to do; another half mile takes you through some small ups and downs (a couple of foot bridges). Note there are some goat trails off of the course; look for the red markings on the trees and the foot bridges.

Eventually you come to a trailhead and a wide uphill trail (a few rocks on the trail). It empties into a field; go right and hug the edge of the field.

Then go around the field; roughly a half mile later you see a small opening and red markings on a tree. That is heaven’s gate; that makes the 8.9 mile course into a 10 miler.

In heaven’s gate, go forward until the end of the trees; you’ll see a trail opening. Take it; soon into this trail you’ll have two options; take the right hand trail (else you’ll cut off about half a mile)

This takes you down some single track, along a creek, and eventually you’ll come to another fork. At this fork, go left (into the field); hug the side of the hill. You’ll see one trail going up the hill; go past that entrance to the second one (which is harder to find);

Go up the hill, out of heaven’s gate, then go back around the field, keeping the outer boundary to your right.

When the field seems to come to an end, go to the right:

For a few more minutes. You seem to come to the end of the field again, but this time, look for the entrance to the forest:

Do you see the entrance? It is here:

The rest of the trail is not that bad to follow, though be sure to take the right hand fork after the footbridge at about 2.1 mile (the path that goes up the hill).

There is another confusing “fork”:

Turn away from the horse trail and toward the third creek crossing.

Soon, you come to a third creek crossing, and right away, there is another fork in the path:

Take the right hand one; you’ve got 1.5 miles left, and about 1 mile of single track before being emptied out onto the frisbee golf course.

Follow the red markings on the trees up a hill and then turn right; you have a couple of more “disc golf course holes” to go through prior to finishing where you started.

Do you see the doe and her fawn?

There they are! (look for the eyes)

August 10, 2007 - Posted by | hiking, running, ultra, walking


  1. What a beautiful trail…I’d get lost for sure. πŸ˜‰

    Comment by Rose | August 11, 2007 | Reply

  2. Ollie, great shots!

    We were just there last week, took Diane’s daughter and her friend out for a horseback ride, and I recognize many areas based on your photos. I would add, for the sake of those who run out there, to watch out for, um, “gifts” from the trail horses.

    Comment by BJ Stone | August 11, 2007 | Reply

  3. BJ: I am well aware. Also, when the McNaughton ultra is held on a weekend with good weather, we often share the trail with people on horseback. πŸ™‚

    Comment by ollie | August 11, 2007 | Reply

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