“Challenge yourself with one of the most difficult trail races in all of Idaho!
— Jeff Fullmer
Race - Jun 16, 2018
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
With a start and finish in Challis, Idaho, the River of No Return (RONR) Endurance Runs offer runners a unique opportunity to experience Idaho’s remote beauty. Choose between distances of 25k, 50k, or 108k, where you’ll be challenged by varying terrain and awed by gorgeous scenery. Cradled by the Salmon River to the south and the Frank Church Wilderness to the north, the RONR Endurance Runs provide participants the chance to see–among other sights–the Blue Mountain, the Lombard Trail, Bayhorse Lake, and Buster Lake.
(Mapping provided via tracking from a Garmin Fenix 3 during the 2017 108k -Nate Reese: Idaho Falls Trail Runners. Written summaries and course content obtained via the runchallis.com website.)
Need to Know
Lots of creek crossings, depending on the year. 2017 meant lots of snow (11 miles worth) and creeks raging so bad that ropes had to be strung across the creeks. Most years the creeks are small and easily crossed over.
The Complete race description can found on the race website. This is the abbreviated version.
START – BIRCH CREEK SADDLE (mile 9)
After leaving the START at the Challis City Park, you'll head south on the HWY 93 shoulder for several hundred yards until reaching the 4-wheeler trail next to the highway on the right. Follow the two track trail down for two miles to the Land of the Yankee Fork Interpretive Center. Cut through the parking lot and begin the Lombard Trail System, a two track trail that will lead you along for quite some time.
BIRCH CREEK SADDLE – KEYSTONE (mile 12)
From Birch Creek Saddle, you’ll continue on the Lombard Trail and head up a tough climb before reaching another placard which describes the Bighorn Sheep in the area and their habitat. You wanted some views? Well, here they are: The Salmon River below you, the Twin Peaks and the River of No Return Wilderness off to your right, Mt. Borah (Idaho’s tallest peak at 12,662’) off to the south skyline, and some wild, wild country ahead of you in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.
KEYSTONE – BAYHORSE TOWNSITE (mile 16)
From the intersection at Keystone, pick up Road 052 (go left-south) and ascend briefly to a summit before a 3.5 mile downhill cruise to the mining Ghost Town, Bayhorse. You’ll pass by the abandoned Pacific Mine, outbuildings and rail car transport structures on your adventure to Bayhorse.
BAYHORSE TOWNSITE – RAMSHORN (mile 22.3)
From the Idaho State Park at Bayhorse, you'll backtrack up Road 052 for about a mile and take a left turn (West) on the Pacific Mine 4-wheeler road/trail which will start your long 5000’ climb up Ramshorn.
RAMSHORN– JULIETTE (mile 30.5)
The 4-wheeler trail now heads west, along the 9500’ ridge, probably with snow, before the ugly, nasty, I-hate-life 500 foot shale climb up to your high point on the course, Ramshorn. Depending on the topo map you reference, you'll or won’t be over 10,000’–we’re telling you that you WILL.
JULIETTE – BAYHORSE LAKE (mile 38.5)
Tired of downhill? Good. Because now you get to head up on the singletrack Juliette Trail.
BAYHORSE LAKE – SQUAW CREEK TH (mile 47.6)
You may pick up a pacer beginning at Bayhorse Lake.
SQUAW CREEK TH – BUSTER LAKE (mile 55.6)
At the Squaw Creek TH, you'll want to fuel up and hydrate and gear up for a long, remote, but beautiful section that will lead you 3 miles into a huge mountain meadow. After crossing a small creek in the meadow, you'll now take a sharp right turn onto another singletrack trail that will take you up, yet again over 9000’, and drop you into Buster Lake.
BUSTER LAKE – CUSTER MOTORWAY (mile 63.7)
After leaving Buster Lake, the quad busting, 12 mile descent to the finish begins. 7 miles along Garden Creek on a 4WD road (RD069) will lead you back to your first signs of civilization in hours, and bring you to your final aid station, about a half mile down from where the Custer Motorway ties into the Garden Creek Road (across from the Living Waters Ranch). You’ve now run 100K. If you are satisfied with that, you may stop. But no award, and we will tattoo a large “D-N-F” on your backside.
CUSTER MOTORWAY – FINISH (mile 69.1)
We make no apologies for making you run another 5.4 miles. You signed up for it, and a simple 100K is for ninnies. AND… …you better have some speed left in your legs, because it is a perfect downhill grade, and it’s a paved country road! Departing the final aid station at the Custer Moterway, you'll take off on the final, well-sloped downhill on a paved road which will lead you along Garden Creek. Now, down Main Street Challis, and back to the Challis City Park for the FINISH.
Flora & Fauna
Sagebrush, wildflowers, and pine trees are abundant. You may see any type of Rocky Mountain critter you can imagine. You'll be out there on the trail long enough to catch a few at least: deer, elk, antelope, sheep, bear, wolf (yes wolf), hawk or even an eagle.
History & Background
A small town with a big heart, Challis, Idaho is the ideal base camp for Idaho’s premier trail races. Challis is located in the center of Idaho surrounded by recreation on public lands in the White Cloud Mountains, Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and Salmon-Challis National Forest.
If you want to make a vacation out of your race weekend, you'll find unparalleled fishing, hiking, mountain biking, rockhounding, wildlife viewing, mountaineering, river rafting, hunting, and off-highway trail riding. If you’re a history buff, you’ll be busy for days at the Land of the Yankee Fork Park, North Custer Museum, ghost towns of Custer, Bonanza, Bayhorse and the behemoth gold dredge on the Yankee Fork. Get off the beaten track and trace the trail where wagons carried food and necessary supplies from Challis to the Yankee Fork Mining District by driving the scenic Custer Motorway. Explore Challis by starting a downtown walking tour at the North Custer Museum.