1,050-acre park, Unicoi State Park
Runners will start the race inside the 1,050-acre park, which lies just a few minutes’ drive north of Helen, at the parking lot along Unicoi Bottoms Road.
From there, the out-and-back course heads across the grassy meadow near the parking lot and into the forest, where runners will hit the trail along the park’s more than a dozen miles of single-track hiking and mountain biking trails, including the Bottoms Loop, Lake Loop and Helen Trail.
Organizers emphasize that while the trails are more difficult than your typical road race — since they’re run on natural surfaces, the terrain is uneven with rocks, sticks and maybe even muddy stretches, depending on the weather in the days leading up to the event — they’re not overly technically challenging for most runners and make an excellent race for beginning trail runners. “This is a great first race for trail newbies!” the website says.
Along the route, you’ll run through meadows, across streams and keep largely on single-track dirt trails through the forest inside the park, which should feature all the reds, golds and yellows of fall color on the leaves this time of year.
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