Mokulēia Loop

Summary: Mokulēia Loop is a loop that ascends the Mokulēia Forest Reserve Access Road, crosses Mokulēia and Kuaokala Firebreak Roads before coming back down to Dillingham Airfield via the Kealia Trail.  It’s an 11 or 14 mile trek, ascends as high as 2000′, and is paved or dirt road for all but one mile of the route.

The Good: The paved road is good for running.  So is the dirt road.  that might not sound that thrilling, but with the temps that you’ll encounter on the North Shore and on this little corner of the island, it’s nice to find places that can be run under a full moon or more easily if you’re just using a light.  And for skirting the edge of Makua Valley, it’s a safe route with excellent glimpses into an often unseen part of the island.  It’s also pretty damn hard to get lost; stay on the main road, keep the Makua Valley to your left and the ocean to your right, and all will be OK.  And while the Mokulēia Forest Reserve Access Road features a lot of open, unshaded terrain, once you hit the ~4 mile mark and the Peacock Flats Campground, you’ll be treated to long stretches of shade, cooler temperatures, and an often gentle breeze.  And if you time it right, you’ll be treated to a nice sunrise at the 3 mile marker on the Mokulēia Forest Reserve Access Road (it’s where the building is), looking back over the North Shore.

The Bad: If you’re running this unsupported, there’s no way to avoid the three miles from the access road to Kealia — or Kealia back to your car at the access road.  It’s insult to injury; either you’re starting or (worse) ending with a run down a hardball road that is booooooring.  There’s ample room on the side of the road, so at least it’s relatively safe, but still — it’s the opposite of what this route is all about.  And holy smokes — the run down the length of the airfield seems to never end.  It goes on, and on, and on, and on – like the knight approaching the castle in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail.  The right way to do it is to run with someone else, and park a car at each of the trailheads.

The Ugly: The only time your life is in danger is when you are hoofing it down the Kealia trail.  There’s no escaping that it’s a mile of single track, narrow, rock infested trail cut into the side of a cliff.  Not that you’ll fall off the cliff, mind you — it’s that you’ll catch a foot or some toes or a heel and pitch forward for a faceplant.  Also, there’s no easy way down; you commit to the running the whole thing when you’re at Peacock Flats Campground or at the Makua Valley overlook

Type of route: Paved road; dirt road; dirt trail.

Good to run in the rain? Light rain, yes.  Heavy rain might make Kealia interesting.

Length: 14 miles.

Options for the route: Yes.Part one car at the Mokulēia Forest Reserve Access Road entrance, and another at the Kealia Trailhead; this shaves 3 miles off of the run, but requires two cars.

Elevation change on the run: 50′ to 2000′.

Water used: 2 liters.  Expect to use more if the sun is up too early.  There’s no escaping the climb on this one, and there’s no water along the way.

Where to start: Here. The Mokulēia Forest Reserve Access Road entrance is on the South side of the Farrington Highway, just past a bunch of streets that have no street signs.  As you head west, I look for the patch of dense palm trees; parking is just before that.

Where to park: Same.

Point your car’s GPS towards: Farrington Highway, Waialua, HI 96791.  And then drive until you see it.

My Google Earth file: here

My Garmin file: None

Facilities

Water?  Only at Dillingham.

Toilets?   Only at Dillingham.

Medical care?   Only at Dillingham.  Good cell phone coverage through this route, though.

Ranger / park folks?  In theory, maybe.  You run a greater risk of encountering military / government types if you wander too far off the trail.

Picnic areas?  Two.  At the top of Kealia, and then at Peacock Flats campground.

A place to change afterwards?    Only at Dillingham.

Rewards in the area:  Waialua Bakery, 66-200 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, HI 96712

You’d run this route when…. your legs are feeling uppity.  When your friend says that he needs more hills in his life.  When someone agrees to go along and you’ve got two cars for the point-to-point.  When you realize it’s just 11 miles and just 2000 feet.  When it dawns on you that, once you make the 2000′ climb, it’s rolling dirt roads in the shade.

My rating: 9.  One of the best runs I’ve done on the island, easily.

Music:  Be careful.  No buzzkills on this one.  I went with a heavy 70s influenced set, and it worked well with me.

Weather / Trail warnings / Permits (not required) – permit is an issue only if you turned at Peacock Flats Campground and head to the Mokulēia Trail down the ridge.

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here.  State Park Info: here and here and here.   Color Map: here

Gunstock Half Marathon

Summary: Set along the low hills of the North Shore, the Gunstock Ranch hosted its first half marathon and 5K run this weekend. The trail had runners circling and then crossing the working ranch, as well as through lush jungle and a well-flowing river.  It was a well laid out course, and for a first time effort, the event went off without any major hitches.  I had found out about it through the HURT blog, and with that, there were a lot of endurance runners that showed for this inaugural event; if I had to guess, I’d say that there were about 200 runners this year.

The Good:  It was a good, good trail run.  I loved the route.  I loved the most that they got the cattle off the course, but that’s just me and my bull issues.  I didn’t even mind the still-fresh cow pies along the way — it added a little somethin-somethin to it all.  And did I mention the creek?  I loved the creek — but then again, I am a Labrador.  Others, I am sure, will lodge their protest over the wide creek and delicate rocks they they chose to carefully try to cross; me, I loved seeing the creek coming, and plowing right through it.

The Bad:  While there were water points along the way, more would have helped.  I hate saying that — they have three on this course, two of which you pass twice (and did not run out).  That should be enough – but one more, especially in the second half of the run, would be a big boost.  Also, for an event called a trail run, there sure was a lot of time spent on pavement.  I understand — it can be hard to line up a 13.1 mile (or 13.7+ miles, in this case) route that is all trail, but I hope they work to find an even better route for next year that will be all trail or ranch road (which was fine, too).

The Ugly:  Only one thing: their mileage was off.  That half marathon we ran was a bit more than a half marathon.  Well organized event, for their first time putting it on; well run, all the moreso for the same reasons; and a lot of fun to run.

Type of route:  A little bit of everything.  A trail road, an off-road run, a paved road run.
Good to run in the rain? Yes.  That would be an awesome run.

Length:  13.7+ miles.  The course this year was a wee bit long.

Options for the route: They did have a 5k version.

Elevation change on the run: From around 50 feet up to around 300 feet, doing that several times, too.
Water used:  3 liters.

Where to start: Gunstock Ranch
Where to park: Same
Point your carís GPS towards:  56 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, Hawaii  96762

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes, at the water points (3 points along the route, five chances to get water).  Water, and fancy water.
Toilets? A couple of points along the way.  Nice and clean, too; well stocked.
Medical care? Did not see any.  Saw people with cell phones.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.  Private land, for the most part.
Picnic areas? Nope, unless you went across the Kam Highway.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.  Deck change, in the parking lot.

Rewards in the area:  Malaekahana State Recreation Area is on the other side of the Kam Highway from the ranch; it’s a great place to go and chill, or have a picnic, or take a dip in the deep blue sea.  We chose to stop off at Shark’s Cove, in hopes of finding more jellyfish and / or reason to buy more Maui Brewing Company beer.  No jellyfish, so we settled for some HD video of the shore break pounding some really big boulders.

You’d run this route when… you’re getting ready for the Honolulu Marathon in December.  When you want to run some otherwise off-limits areas.  When your buddy has just come back into the Army and you want to help him push himself in getting back into fighting shape.

My rating:  7

Music:  Something loud, and something booming.  This is the place to fire up some old school AC/DC, or some old Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here. Photos: here

Poamoho Hele Loa and the Poamoho Ridge Trail

Summary: Poamoho Ridge Trail is a 3.5 or so mile ascent up the ridge to the top of the Koʻolau Range, after a 6.5 mile trip up the Poamoho Hele Loa Road.  The trip requires a special permit from the State, as the route crosses land belonging to the Dole Plantation, the US Military, and the State itself.  The road itself is very well suited for running, and two-thirds of the ridge trail can easily be run as well; the last portion of the ridge trail is unmaintained, and is better suited for walking / hiking, but it still well worth it.  With the permit requirement (and limit to five permits per weekend day), this is not just a wonderful route, it’s also one that is quiet and a place to go with a small group knowing you won’t see many (if any) others.  From the trail-head, the route is about 18 miles round trip and rises from 1100 feet elevation to 2600 feet.

Background (me and this trail):  I first started toying with the idea of running this route when I first started to spend some time on the Na Ala Hele website, which is about the State trail system.  It’s listed as a state hiking trail, but a few things caught my attention.  Like the need for a permit.  That it goes through the forest.  That it’s only periodically maintained.  That the Poamoho Hele Loa is 4×4 only.  I knew that those were just sirens calling to me, but that to others, they’d be a turn off — you have to plan ahead to go run this?  You can’t just get up and go on a whim?  Just running the ridge trail would be a 10km run (or maybe hike), but running the whole thing would be about 20 miles — who does that?  Well, I do, I thought.  I knew I should not run the route alone (few others on it, isolated, ridges with cliffs, unmaintained, etc), but I wasn’t sure I could talk others into doing this with me.  I hope this post is ammunition for others to talk their friends into doing this with them.

The Good:  This 20 mile run has three parts:  road, 2 miles of lower trail, and 1 mile of upper trail.  The road is great running.  It’s a good ascent, with the road taking you up about half the elevation of the ridge, and it’s well maintained, making it easy to run.  It’s not good, it’s great.  No one is going to try and run any real length of Maunawili while three-across; you can do that here.  The ridge trail is 3 miles long, and the first two aren’t good, they’re great, too — nice and wide, solid shoulders, great views, plenty of trees providing shade.  Even running on a day of sprinkles after a night of rail, we didn’t have slippage issues during those first 2+ miles of the lower trail.  And yes, it is as isolated as I had expected, and hoped; we saw one set of hunters just once (there were two sets out), and one group of hikers (they drove up the road to hike the last part), but other than that, we had the mountain and trail to ourselves.  And probably the nicest surprise was, as a military member, parking at the gym on the Helemano Military Reservation, and having a great gym at which to clean up after the run.  And one last thing — the permit.  It’s free, and can be done by mail or fax — which is awesome.

The Bad:  Cows loose on the trail.  I have cow and bull issues, I know, but there were some (4) that were out and about, and giving us the stink-eye.  We paused and waited, and they moved on.  Also bad for running is the last mile or so of the trail; it’s not suitable for running, for the most part.  After 9 miles to get there, though, it’s totally worth it to hoof it up that last mile, both to get to the top and to take in the views.   Oh, and you’re going to get dirty.  There’s no two ways about that – running or hiking.  For me, that’s fine — par for the course, really — but if you’re not expecting it, you’ll be surprised.

The Ugly:  If the sun is out in full force, this’d be a cooker of a run.  On a cloudy day, we all drained our camelbaks; I can only imagine what it’d be like on a hot, sunny day.

Type of route:  Dirt road and trail
Good to run in the rain? Yes, if you’re already comfortable with that.

Length:  about 18.5 from trailhead to the top and back; it’s 20, from the gym.

Options for the route:  Nope.

Elevation change on the run:  1100 feet to 2600 feet.  Mostly gradual, not too many steep areas.
Water used:  The full 3 liters.

Where to start:  When you get your permit, they’ll tell you that.
Where to park:   You can park near the trail head, or near the gym (like we did).  Or, you can drive the road and just run the trail.
Point your car’s GPS towards:  Wait and see.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Nope
Toilets? Nope
Medical care? Nope.  Cell phone coverage all the way up, though.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? Nope
A place to change afterwards? We did, at the gym.

Rewards in the area:  3 taco plate at Just Tacos in Mililani (map).  It was about $50 for the three of us to each have this, but man did it hit the spot.

You’d run this route when….  you love running on this island, and you have friends just are as crazy as you.  When you’ve already run most all of the other Na Ala Hele trails, and decide that, really, you need to try and run them all.  When you need a run that will push you a little farther than normal.

My rating:  10.  I would run this again today.

Music:  None.  Won’t need it, probably won’t want it.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (required)

More reading: here and here and here Flickr: here More photos: here and here Videos: here and here Na Ala Hele site: here

Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail

Summary: The Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail is a 2.25 mile trail that rises almost 1800 feet, before peaking on the spine of the Ko`olau Ridge.  It’s a tough run, for it is steep, but it is very run-able and offers a great reward in the form of spectacular views.  The locals say that you’re suppose to run to the top, come back down to the picnic table, and then run back to the top again.

The Good:  The trail is in very good shape.  Unlike a lot of other trails that go mauka on the Ko`olau Ridge, this one is wide and easily navigable all the way to the end.  There are no ropes, there’s no forced hiking; you can run as hard and as long as your legs can handle.  Being steep, there’s some erosion, but it’s been well addressed and should hold up well for a long time.  And the views — wow, the views.  Fantastic.  From Diamond Head, all the way around to the Makapu`u Lighthouse and on to Kaneoha Bay, standing at the top of the trail lets you see everything from Honolulu to the Kona Brewing Company restaurant in Hawaii Kai.  And the foliage is awesome; like the website says,

The trail traverses through an assortment of exotic vegetation typical of arid areas: Christmas berry, haole koa, formosa koa, ironwood, Norfolk pine and guava. Beyond the shelter and the guava forest, the trail breaks out of the canopy and into uluhe-o`hia-koa-lama forest.

The Bad:  Are you OK with ascending about 1800 feet of elevation, in 2.25 miles?  Because you’re going to do that.  Are you happy only running on bike trails?  This ascent features rocks and roots and stairs and all kinds of things that will make you question your footing, and question your sanity on the way down.  Now, I happen to like that stuff, but hey, that’s me.  And remember — this is an active hunting area, so be careful on the weekends.

The Ugly: Nothing.

Type of route: Trail
Good to run in the rain? It’s be a tough one, especially the last little bit.

Length: 2.25 miles to the top.
Options for the route
: Run to the top, come back down to the picnic area, then re-assault the top — that’s 10km once you get back to the car.

Elevation change on the run:  300 feet up to 2100 feet, and back down.
Water used: I used 1.5 liters, but could have / would have used more.

Where to start: Kalaau Pl, Honolulu, Hawaii 96821S
Where to park: Same.  The very end of the street is marked no parking, and that seems to be enforced.  Get there early, or your parking options won’t be close to the trail head.
Point your car’s GPS towardshere.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Nope.
Toilets? Nope.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? One.  Mid way up, about 1.5 miles from the trail head and .7 miles from the top.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.

Rewards in the area:  The truly stunning view.  That, and the Kona Brewing Company restaurant.

You’d run this route when….it’s not actually raining Windward, and you want a nice view.  When the skies are clear, and you think you can get up there for the sunrise.  When you’re training for the DipSea.  When old ladies call you out.

My rating:  9

Music: Some classic 80’s tunes.  That is, assuming no one is close enough to you on the trails to actually hear what you’re listening to.  If that’s the case, go with NWA.

Weather / Trail warnings (yes) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: hereState Park Info: here and here

Kailua Beach Park to Nuuanu Pali State Wayside

Summary: For as long as I have been running up and down from Nuuanu Pali State Wayside, aka the Pali lookout, I’ve had my eye on a run from the beach in Kailua to the Nuuanu Pali and back.  From my best guesstimation, I figured it’d be about 13 miles to do it.  Starting at the Kailua Beach Park in Kailua seemed like a perfect fit; I’d used it as a base of operations for a number of runs up to the pillboxes, and to the area around Kailua and Bellows Air Station.  The run from there up to Nuuanu Pali is a mix of nice, flat road running, with a moderate climb up the old road to the lookout itself.  One key appeal of this route is the shade, while the other is in running roads — old and new.  All told, it worked out to be just about 13 miles on the nose, and it’s as good a run in the rain as it is on a sunny day.

The Good:  Right distance, right difficulty.  I’ll be honest — 13-15 miles is where I’m happiest.  And really, I’m not a gazelle, so a good climb works just fine for me, too.  I think I was no more than 20 minutes off my normal time for a half marathon, a lot of which was due to the shade and the road.  The roads are a real plus — the old Pali Highway is a great escape for running, a chance to run an abandoned road that is still in very good shape (and that features some great scenery).  And the park in Kailua is a great place to start and finish — plenty of parking, plenty of water, nice showers, clean bathrooms, and nice changing rooms.

The Bad:  I don’t know if there’s such a thing as rush hour in Kailua, but if there is, running along Auloa Road might be tricky — no sidewalk, and the shoulder drops off quickly.  But we are talking about Maunawili, after all — if three cars pass, I think that’d be the rush.  There’s the one stretch on the old Pali Highway, where the trail goes under the new highway and careful footing is required; I can’t see it being fatal to anyone, though.  Also, there’s no water along the way, nothing at Nuuanu Pali that I’ve ever found.  So, you’ll need to bring whatever you may need (and with all the shade along the way, 2 liters should be enough for most days).

The Ugly:  None, that I know of.  Nice route, nice climb, nice quiet.

Type of route:  Road
Good to run in the rain? Excellent place to run in the rain.

Length: 13.1 roundtrip

Options for the route:  Yep – the Waimanalo trail instead of along the roads.  makes the run about 22 miles total, instead of the 13.1 miles.

Elevation change on the run: ~1100 feet up to Nuuanu Pali.
Water used: 2.5 liters.

Where to start:  Kailua Beach Park
Where to park:  Kailua Beach Park
Point your car’s GPS towards526 Kawailoa Road at Alala Road, Kailua, Hawaii 96734

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes, at the start / finish point
Toilets? Yes, at the start / finish point
Medical care? No.
Ranger / park folks? No.
Picnic areas? Yes, at the start / finish point
A place to change afterward? Yes

Rewards in the area:  Step into the ocean.  That works for me every time.  If that’s not enough, swing my Moke’s Bread and Breakfast for some grinds; me, I’ll stick to the dip.

You’d run this route when….  you’re in the mood for a nice climb.  Or you’re nursing an ankle and want to stay off the trails.  Or there’s a full moon out, and not a cloud in the sky.

My rating:  8

MusicMash-Up Your Bootz, Volume 36.  That, and their Best of 2009 set.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here. Flickr: here and here and here and here.   More photos: here and here and herePark Info: here and here See also: here

Keaiwa Heiau Loop Trail (aka Aiea Loop)

Summary: The Aiea Loop is a very nice, 4.5ish mile loop on the ridge up above the H3.  It’s certainly not flat, but it does run through a well-shaded area.  It’s a bit off the beaten path, and seems to only get the regular morning walking crowd, though hikers do show up from time to time.  This is definitely a hiking and running train; it’s not bike friendly in any way, shape or form.  You’ll pass the heiau on your way in; it’s worth a stop on the way out, both for the signs to read and a chance to see it (it’s a good shape).

The Good: Trail.  It’s all trail.  No pavement, no steps, no hand rails, nothing.  Quiet and peaceful, this is a nice area away from the world, perfect for running.  You’ll likely see a few people out on your run, but really, it’s solitude; even the groups of pig hunters and their dogs have been both isolated encounters, and pleasant ones (everyone, even the hunters, seem willing to say hello and stop to chat).  The coolness of the morning seems to linger a bit longer on the trail, making it a pretty good place to run later in the morning, too.  And the length is about right — at 4.5ish miles, it’s not hard (I would think) for most to get through this in an hour.  The route itself is also pretty self-evident; there are no markers, but I really don’t think any are needed.  I think you’d be hard-pressed to get lost.  Lastly, the facilities there are indeed good enough to support running; there’s no shower or anything, but there are well kept, clean bathrooms in which to change afterward, as well as water fountains.

The Bad: It’s not flat, by any means.  And I’m not referring to elevation change — I’m talking about the trail itself.  This is no city bike path; there are some places where the trail have a pretty decent angle, heading off the side and down the ravine.  For the sure footed, this isn’t a problem; lose your footing, though, and you’d be in for a spill down the side.  can you lose your footing?  Yep — the trail is littered with roots.  Zoning out and running does not mean taking an eye off of where you’re putting down your feet.  Also, there are obstacles — there are a few places where fallen trees, well, have been left, with notches cut into them to facilitated getting over them.  On a good day, they can be a bit hairy; on a bad day, they can be rather ugly.

The Ugly:  The rain and the mud.  That uneven trail can get a bit slick in spots when it rains, and I’ve seen one guy come close to sliding right off the side and down the ravine, due to the slick mud.  Now, being part Labrador, I happen to love running trails in the rain, stomping through puddles and mud, the mud here might seem like the perfect thing.  Not so.  The closest I have come to dying on this trail was trying to get over a fallen tree, on a rainy and slick day; the approach to the tree was slick, the tree itself was slick, and the footing on the other side was slick as well.  Good runs, I think, should leave you with a fresh review of your life’s history, of what you did right and what you did wrong; I had that that day.  Good runs shouldn’t mean slowing your pace, to keep from falling to your death.


Type of route: trail
Good to run in the rain? Only if your life insurance is up to date and you’re really, really into trail running

Length: Around 4.5 miles.  The park sign says 4.8, but I find that suspect.

Options for the route:  Nope, though I did spent one fine Sunday out there running back and forth, from one parking lot to the other, for about 3 hours .

Elevation change on the run:  It drops down to about 800′ elevation, and tops out at about 1600′ at the highest point .
Water used: 1.5 liters .

Where to start: Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area (here)
Where to park:  At the parking lot all the way at the end of the road.  There’s a good fountain there, a nice and clean bathroom, and a nice picnic area that’s perfect for a cool-down.
Point your car’s GPS towards:  99-1849 Aiea Heights Dr, Aiea, HI 96701.  The cross-street is Uluaau Drive.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes
Toilets? Yes
Medical care? Nope
Ranger / park folks? Yes, at the entrance (often).
Picnic areas? Yes, and even camping areas.
A place to change afterward? Yes, in the good & clean bathrooms

Rewards in the area:  Plate lunch at the Aiea Bowl.

You’d run this route when….it’s August, and hot, and you’re getting a late start to the morning after having slept in.  Or, when you want a nice, quiet, away-from-people trail run, some place where you can turn up the music and tune out the people.

My rating:  8

Music:  George Thorogood.  This would also be the place to play Whitesnake, or the Go-Go’s, because you just won’t run into someone who will ask, What are you listening to?

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and hereHere‘s some info on the crash.   Flickr: here and hereMore photos: here and here.   State Park Info: here and here.

Running Prescott: Granite Mountain to Thumb Butte

Summary:  We interrupt the normal posting of Running Oahu, to bring you this special posting from Prescott, AZ.  Prescott is home to a fantastic network of trails, some made and maintained by the City of Prescott, and the rest by the US Forest Service.   Using USFS trails, I was able to string together a good run from Granite Mountain to Thumb Butte, cutting cross country for a nice 10.1 mile point-to-point run.  It’s an unsupported run; you’ll need to bring everything you’re going to need.  But the rewards are great; it’s beautiful, and you’ll likely not encounter another person during the run.  From the Granite Basin Lake, it’s Trail 345 to 351 (and the Cayuse Equestrian Trailhead), to Trail 346 which links to 332; when I got near Thumb Butte, I opted to turn left onto Trail 318, before arriving at the base of Thumb Butte.

The Good:  The weather can be great; if you make this run at any time between October and May (when it’s not actively snowing), you’ll like have great weather as the daytime temps average in the 60’s and 70’s during that time (and only goes into the high 80’s during the other months).  The trails are fantastically marked; you won’t wonder on which trail you’re running.  And prep work is a snap; between the city and USFS websites, you’ll find tons of data on the trails, the area, and the options.  And the trails?  Well, Trail 332 is due for some love and maintenance in 2010 from the USFS, but it’s still a great trail for running.  I had expected worse conditions on the trails, given the heavy snows this year, but they’re in good shape (probably in large part to the USFS crews maintaining them).

Granite Mountain Lake — a good place to have the family drop you off.  Nice place for lunch, too — clean bathrooms.

Getting out of the basin takes a few miles of uphill running.  Not too many, and not too steep of a run.

This is actually an uncommon characteristic for this run — long and straight.

The Bad:  There’s lots of info on the trails, and lots of markers with the trail numbers along the way, but there are very few maps out in the woods showing the whole network.  Running here is not a place to wing it.  And did I mention the altitude?  Granite Basin Lake is at about 5600 feet elevation, and the high points — all three of them — are up close to 6000 feet.  If you’re acclimated, great; if not, well, prepare to run slower and deal with it.

Looking ahead to Thumb Butte.  This is from the top of the ridge of the basin, on Trail 332.  “Just keep heading towards Thumb Butte,” I was told.  But do you see a trail leading there?  I sure don’t.

Here’s the view looking back towards Granite Mountain, from close to where Trail 318 splits off from 332.  Granite Mountain just seems a loooong way off, looking at this photo.

The Ugly:  No water once you get past the Cayuse Equestrian Trailhead.  It’d be nice to run into a faucet here and there, but that’s just me.  At 10 miles, a 100 oz camelbak will get you through this, though.  Of all of the trails along this route, the northern half of 332 is in the worst shape (and it’s not that bad), but the planned 2010 renovations should fix this.

Trail 332, in the middle.  High water forced me to find a new crossing place — there are worse things in the world than that, though.

Even in the winter, Trail 332 can be a hot and dry place.  With no water along the way, be sure to bring plenty.

Type of route: Trail run, point to point.
Good to run in the rain? Yes.  The water levels are up right now, thanks to all the snow, and there’s still a good amount of mud on north-facing slopes, but yeah, I’d run this in the rain.

North facing sloped hang onto their snow and moisture the longest.  Here, north-facing portions of Trail 318 have stayed muddy the longest.

Length:  10.1 miles

Options for the route:  Not really.  For a point to point run, 332 is really the only way.

Elevation change on the run:  5600 to 6000 feet.  Nothing too steep or crazy.
Water used: 100 ounces.  I could / would have used more if I’d had it.

Little if any parts of Trail 332 are anything even close to flat.  It’s all up or down.

Where to start: Granite Basin Lake Recreation Area.
Where to park: Same
Point your car’s GPS towardsHere.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

This is actually one of the wider parts of 332, just before it links up with Trail 318.

Facilities
Water? Nope
Toilets? At Granite Basin Lake, and at Thumb Butte.  And I gotta say — in both cases, they were clean.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Yep.  At Granite Basin Lake, and at Thumb Butte, and sometimes out on the trails.
Picnic areas? At Granite Basin Lake, and at Thumb Butte.  Nothing along the way.
A place to change afterwards? Yes, at Granite Basin Lake and at Thumb Butte.

Rewards in the area:  Casa Sanchez, but really, I’d make the drive to In-n-Out Burgers afterward.

There are long stretches when the butte is out of view.  Sort makes for a nice treat when it comes back into view.

You’d run this route when?  When you want to do a point to point run.  When you want some rolling hills.  When the snow is melting and you want to see the snow and mud and full creeks.  When the sun isn’t brutal yet.

My rating:  7

Music:  The Eagles.  Desperado, Hotel California, Tequila Sunrise.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: here and here.   State Park Info: here and here.