“A challenging single loop course around Burr Oak Lake with the changing leaves
— Steve Creech
Race - Nov 10, 2018
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This race is a fantastic single loop with only a couple miles that are repeated. ~90% of the course is singletrack as the leaves change.
The Bobcat Trail Marathon begins at the Burr Oak State Park Lodge and runs up the road to the first junction, taking a left and entering into the woods at the first large green Bobcat Trail Marathon sign. The trail does a short loop crossing over a couple bridges, weaving through large boulders, and running beside large sandstone alcoves before climbing back up to the aforementioned road.
A couple hundred yards on the road bring you to the next singletrack section starting at the first aid station. Weave through the pines and descend to lake level. The trail tends to stay close to the lake for the rest of the course with a very slight sidehill slant to the right. The lake is usually visible, though often through a layer of trees.
Around mile 7 is another basic aid station as you run across a parking lot at one of the lake's docks. In this next section, the trail traverses some backyards; please respect the private property and follow the flagging tape, flags, neon green blazes, or large green signs to stay on trail. A few miles later you cross the spillway and shortly after run across the dam itself which impounds the lake and soon reach a fully stocked aid station.
Return to the wooded singletrack tracing the edge of the lake and eventually reach a .5-.75 mile run on the road beside the lake before reaching the fully stocked halfway point aid station. A sharp climb up to another road, a sharp right, and a sharp left diving into the forest and descending back down and then a relatively flat section continues for several miles until the mile 18 or so fully stocked aid station.
Directly after the aid station is a creek crossing where, depending on the water levels, you may get both feet wet. The trail continues along, occasionally on short boardwalks before reaching the final fully stocked aid station in a parking lot around mile 21. The homestretch is the longest stretch without an aid station and pushes you to stay focused and determined. The trail is well maintained through here and seems to be a gentler grade to the hills. Eventually, you'll reach the short section of trail you have already run and weave through the boulders alongside a creek and past alcoves before climbing back to the park road and descending to the lodge and the finish line. Whoo! Good work.
The trail is generally pretty well maintained, though can get muddy on slopes after rains and especially in the second section that is also run as a half marathon. There are many short hills with steep gradients as the trails dip in and out of the many tributary drainages to the lake. Just because it's in Ohio and traverses a lake, don't be fooled into thinking this is a flat course, it has a surprising amount of elevation gain throughout. The trail is generally well-marked with many neon green blazes, flags, flagging tape, signs, volunteers, and any trails that could lead you astray are usually blocked off. The trails on the eastern and southern side of Burr Oak Lake double as trails for the 1,444 mile loop trail around the state of Ohio known as the Buckeye Trail as well as part of the roughly 4,600 mile North Country Trail which winds its way from North Dakota to New York.
History & Background
The race is held in 2,593 acre Burr Oak State Park and starts at the lodge where you can stay for the weekend!