Targhee National Forest
Forest Rd 150, Island Park, ID 83429, USA
City Park, Ashton ID
111-209 Cherry St, Ashton, ID 83420, USA
The Mesa Falls Marathon and Half Marathon races are point to point courses that begin in the Targhee National Forest near the headwaters of the Warm River and end in the city of Ashton, Idaho. Due to our geographic location and proximity to Yellowstone National Park, a wide variety of wildlife reside in the area including elk, deer, moose, bison, cougars, wolves, and bears. The race committee makes every attempt to clear the race course of unofficial entries prior to the race. However, recognizing that wildlife may not always follow our course rules, there may be four-legged “bandits” on the course at any point. Runners are reminded to use caution if and when encountering wild animals. Please give elk, deer, moose, and bison the right of way—they are bigger than you! If a bear or cougar are spotted, just remember that you don’t want to be the first runner—nor the last!
The Marathon starting line is located on the Targhee National Forest Service Road #315 near Pineview, approximately .1 mile north of the turn-off to Preston Springs. From the starting line, the course proceeds west for .2 miles on road #315 before turning south (left) onto road #150. The course follows road #150 for the next 9.6 miles. This part of the course is on hard packed gravel road. On dry years it can be very dusty—Spectators, please do not use vehicles on this section of the course during the race!!
This part of the course is generally flat to slightly downhill and winds in and out of pine and aspen trees into large meadow openings with spectacular views of the Teton Mountains in Wyoming visible at several points to the left. At mile 6, runners will encounter a red cabin used by the local range rider when herding cattle or mending fences. Caution runners: This is cow country—watch your step!!
At mile 9.6 the course intersects Highway 47--the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. This part of the course is on pavement. Vehicle traffic is generally light during the early morning hours, but will increase in numbers and speed as the day goes on. The road shoulder is very narrow and does not allow a lot of room for runners. Please be very cautious of vehicle traffic!
The course proceeds south for 1.5 miles to the Lower Mesa Falls Scenic Overlook. At this point, runners will be diverted to the right, through the parking lot, and along the pedestrian path for a spectacular view of the Lower Mesa Falls on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River to the right. Restrooms are available in the parking area. From here, continue along the marked path back to Highway 47, turn right and continue south. At mile 13, the course drops downhill.
At the Bear Gulch parking area the runners will loop through the north end of the parking lot and follow the trail under the road through the short tunnel. Everything is well marked with flagging, a flour line on the ground, and volunteers to direct the runners. After approximately 400 yards, the course turns right ( south ).
Runners proceed south beyond the green gate located at the south end of the Railroad Bed for the next .2 miles to the trail intersection with the exit road leading from the Warm River Campground. Restrooms are available at the campground. The course turns right and follows the campground entrance/exit road to the Fish Creek Road and continues south to the Fish Creek-Highway 47 intersection, a distance of .4 miles to mile 17. From this point to the finish, the course is on paved roads.
At mile 17 the course goes over the bridge across Robison Creek and at mile 17.1, begins a significant climb up the Warm River grade on Highway 47 for the next 2.8 miles topping out at mile 19.9 and turning west (right) on County Road 1400 N. The elevation gain here is 300 ft. in 2.8 miles.
The course follows 1400 N. for 3.7 miles before turning south (left) on County Road 3700 E. It continues on 3700 E. for .6 miles before turning west (right) on 1337 N and continuing for .5 miles to 3750 E. Continue on 3750 for .7 miles to the intersection with Highway 47. The course turns west (right) on Highway 47 and follows Highway 47 for 2 miles into the City of Ashton. At the Trails Inn Restaurant, mile mark 26, the course turns north (right) and proceeds for .2 miles to the finish at the city park.
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