backcountry Rise 50K

Presented by SALOMON

August 29, 2020


The 50K consists of a single clockwise loop offering seemingly endless breathtaking views along entire course, making it one of the most scenic and unique trail races in the North America.  Runners are treated to panoramic views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood, as well as the majestic Mt. Margaret Backcountry's many high lakes, creeks, craggy ridgelines and miles and miles of sweet single-track trails. 

This is a very challenging mountain trail race that should not be taken lightly and is not a beginner-level 50K course (see experience requirement below). Much of the route is on remote backcountry trail with minimal access and rugged sections seeing infrequent maintenance. There is also significant distance between some aid stations. Race entrants who insufficiently train for this race are jeopardizing their safety and unfairly overburdening the event’s volunteers and safety resources—you have been warned.

Total elevation gain is 8,000ft and loss is 8,000ft.  Approximately 98% of the course is on single-track trails and three aid stations are offered.  


  • RACE DATE: SATURDAY, AUGUST 29, 2020 (Pending US Forest Service permit approval)

  • BIB PICKUP/CHECK-IN: 5:45-6:45AM

  • BRIEFING: 6:50AM at Start Line

  • RACE START: 7:00AM

  • CUT-OFF: 4:00PM at Johnston Ridge Aid Station (#3).

  • FINAL CUT-OFF: 6:00PM at Finish Line


EXPERIENCE: Due to the remote, mountainous nature of the course and significant distance between some aid stations, completion of a trail 50K race (or longer) prior to race day is required. At registration, runners will be required to enter in an official ultramarathon race result, demonstrating their experience.

GEAR: All 50K runners must also have the following MINIMUM gear during the race, which will be verified at race day check-in. Being on course without the following minimum gear is grounds for disqualification from the race: 

  • Capacity for at least 35-40 ounces (1.5 liters) of hydration/water. This is a MINIMUM amount, and you will need every drop between Aid 2 and Aid 3!

  • Lightweight jacket

  • Safety Whistle


Click on the map for a high resolution copy. Here is a link to the course gpx data file for use in your navigation app of choice.



There are three aid stations, with the first two being remote hike-in locations, staffed by enthusiastic and experienced volunteers. Be sure to express your appreciation for their support and considerable effort getting all the supplies, food and water onto the course.

All aid stations will be well stocked with water, Tailwind energy drink, Skout Backcountry trail bars, GU energy gels, PB&J sandwiches, soda, various fruit options, chips, gummi bears, a variety of other ultra fare and basic first aid supplies. All Daybreak races are cupless, so be sure to bring your own cup for liquid at aid stations. 

Aid Station Total Distance (mi) To Next Aid (mi) Crew Drop Bag Cutoff
Start 0 5.0 Yes -- --
#1 - Coldwater Creek 5.0 8.0 No No --
#2 - Grizzly Lake 13.0 11.5 No No --
#3 - Johnston Ridge Observatory 24.5 6.9 Yes Yes 4:00PM
Finish 31.4 -- Yes -- 6:00PM


Start to Aid Station 1 (Coldwater Creek): 5.0 miles. Starting from the courtyard of the Science & Learning Center, the course skirts the parking area to thin the group before dropping down the Elk Bench Trail for a 0.8 mile descent to Coldwater Lake and a left turn onto the Lakes Trail to begin the loop. Runners then follow the serene, rolling Lakes Trail along the lake shore to Aid Station 1 at mile 5.0. Watch for soaring bald eagles scanning for fish and beavers in their lodge near the upper reaches of the lake.  Overall, this section is very runnable with some brief rocky areas. Be sure to top off your fluids at the aid station and thank these volunteers for their hike-in effort! Also, did you know Coldwater Lake used to be the Coldwater Creek canyon, but filled into a deep lake after the creek was dammed by the massive landslide during the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens?!

Aid Station 1 (Coldwater Creek) to Aid Station 2 (Grizzly Lake): 8.0 miles. Three words best describe this 8 mile section: hilly, remote and wild! Upon leaving Aid Station 1, runners immediately feel the solitude of the Mt. Margaret Backcountry surround them, as the Lakes Trail winds and climbs nearly 3000’ over the next 4 miles along the Coldwater Creek canyon wall. Look for large herds of elk down along Coldwater Creek, and mountain goats on the rocky ridges ahead. This trail section is a mix of runnable and steep narrow dirt trail, with some sloughed rocky sections and heights that require caution. Just after reaching Snow Lake, the climb crests at Pleasant Pass, a gap in the teeth of Whittier Ridge and the gateway to the resplendent backcountry lakes region. Over the next 4 miles, runners will pass numerous stunning sapphire lakes, cross rushing creeks, witness the recovering forest and go gaga over the abundance of colossal huckleberries. Runners arrive at the final high lake, Grizzly Lake for Aid Station 2 at mile 13. Be sure to fill up on fluids here and thank these volunteers for their epic effort hiking everything in!

Aid Station 2 (Grizzly Lake) to Aid Station 3 (Johnston Ridge Observatory): 11.5 miles. Leaving Aid Station 2, runners face a long, dry (zero water refill opportunities) and completely exposed 11.5 mile thrill ride, as the Lakes Trail ends at Bear Pass onto the Boundary Trail. More than anywhere else on the entire Monument, this section offers the most iconic ridgeline views of Mt. St. Helens, its blast zone and Spirit Lake, as well as the surrounding Cascade peaks and volcanoes. The first 3 miles are a gradual 1200’ climb to Mt. Margaret, then 4 miles of rolling ridgeline trail to St. Helens Lake, Coldwater Peak and its adjacent rock arch-- yes, you will run through it, and it is pure magic! After the arch is a minor climb, then a bombing 2 mile descent down to Harry’s Ridge, followed by 2.5 miles of rocky rolling trail across the ‘Spill Over’, an ashy desert-like section of the blast zone to Johnston Ridge Observatory and Aid Station 3. This will be a large aid station with drop bags and crew available and spectators welcome.

Aid Station 3 (Johnston Ridge) to Finish: 6.9 miles. Mt. St. Helens and it’s entire 1980 blast zone looms intensely and uninterrupted along the grand 4 mile descent down Johnston Ridge on the Boundary Trail to the Hummocks Trailhead-- “Hummocks” are literally giant chunks of Mt. St Helens that blew away during the 1980 eruption, creating massive, spooky gravel mounds and fascinating wetland ponds as a result. Upon reaching Hummocks Trailhead parking area, runners cross Spirit Lake Hwy (Hwy 504) over to Coldwater Boat Launch day-use area and reconnect onto the Lakes Trail. Runners then follow the Lakes Trail for 0.8 miles (completing the loop) to the junction of Elk Bench Trail for the last 0.8 mile, 500’ climb back up to the Science & Learning Center for the race finish!


Crew and spectators are welcome and encouraged at Johnston Ridge Aid Station and the Start/Finish area only. Be courteous with parking and sound levels, as this is important to our permitting agency, surrounding wildlife and Monument visitors. We do not want any complaints from other visitors that might jeopardize the event permit.


Drop bags will be available at Johnston Ridge Aid Station.


The event permit does not allow pacers.


See the Daybreak Racing Cancellation Policy.

This event is granted by a Special Use Permit through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service. In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.