The Cairn-Age Trail
In Ken's Canyon (both above and below)
Runners in Dairy Canyon, where you drop down into the canyon, just past the dangling boulder
Experience the adventure of the wild red rock canyons of the Pahvant Range. This run links together several canyons, washes, bike trails, and remote ATV trails into a grand adventure. Run up a red rock slot canyon, trek atop a packed natural clay fin under colorful hills, power up and speed down remote ATV trails along a ridgeline. There is a 50km, 25km, and a 10km distance.
This run travels through several dry streambeds in several canyons that are connected by bike trails or defined yet remote sections of the Paiute ATV trail. In Dairy Canyon there are a couple rocks to climb over, one sandstone overhangs with a rope tied to help you up, and one ladder. But a majority of the course is great runnable surfaces.
The 25km course starts up the slot-like Dairy Canyon, out Flat Canyon, completes a new loop in Cathedral Canyon, then up the red rock roller coaster of trail 84. The last 5 miles are downhill on 5 brand new single-track trails, with a section popping off the trails to catch the the spectacular Scorpion Ridge overlooking Cottonwood Canyon. The 50km overall is run in 4 canyons, and along the rim of a two others. This year it will climb to near the summit of Table Mountain then descend both the upper and lower branches of Ken's Canyon. After that it follows 25km course. The 10km course start up the CC dirt road and the Big Red Trail, then follows the 25km route on the bike trails back to the finish.
The race is mid-September, timed to miss the baking heat of summer, and hopefully to avoid water in the dry washes. The mountain bike and ATV trails in this run have some very nice packed clay sections, some red rock sections, and some sections with loose rocks.
See more of the new Pahvant Trail System. Here are videos by others:
+ Juniper Drop & Cairn-age Trails. High speed downhill biking.
GPX Download links (see race guide for more mapping options):
Registration: Click here to register -->
Race Guide: 2021 Race Guide
Time & Date: Richfield, Utah Lion’s Park Saturday, September 18, 2021. The 50 km starts at 7:00 AM (pre-dawn light, so no need for headlamps), the 25 km starts at 7:30 AM, and the 10km at 8:00 AM.
Bib pick-up the night before at Gary's Shoes in Richfield (preferred), or if needed come at least 45 minutes early on race morning.
Getting There: Richfield, Utah is located a 1hr 45 min drive South of Provo, and 2hrs 35 minutes South of Salt Lake City. Getting to Richfield should be easy with modern electronic maps. Coming from the North, take Interstate-15 to Scipio, then turn off onto Highway 50. You will turn off Highway 50 and pass through Aurora (watch for speed traps) before jumping onto Interstate-70 the last few miles to Richfield.
There are 2 freeway exits off I-70 into Richfield. From the North exit, drive South into town until you hit the first stoplight (300 North), next to the City Park. Here turn West towards the mountains and drive 6 blocks to the Lion’s Park (600 West). We will meet up in the middle of the park at the main pavilion next to 400 North.
From the South, Richfield is about 1hr 50 minutes North of Cedar City, or 4hrs 15 minutes North of Las Vegas.
Check out this 102 second promotional video for Richfield City in 2018, which gives a shout-out to our race (click image to play):
Running with a dash of adventure: To enjoy this run you should be experienced running on technical trails (or at least power hiking) with limited support, competent managing your own hydration and nutrition, and able to clamber over small rock obstacles. There are several short but quite steep ATV trail sections where even experienced trail runners will walk. There are aid stations throughout the course, but all runners must have personal hydration for 1 to 2 hours between aid stations. We are still a small race, and a single pacer is welcome.
Weather: Hopefully the weather will be dry. The clay sections become slick when wet, and more water in the canyons will add difficulty. High water flow in Dairy Canyon can be very dangerous, but there is an ATV road that parallels the canyon if weather requires. There is minimal chance for snow in September, but it is Utah, so come prepared for just about anything. Average temperatures mid-September is 45 degrees F on the low end and 75 degrees F on the high end.
Course Markings: The course will be marked at most places with signs, arrows, and ribbons corresponding to the race colors on the maps. Orange= 50 KM (Table Mountain Loop only), Blue = full 25km Table Mountain Loop, and Green =10km (uphill first half only). Follow the ribbons.
Packet Pick-up: Packet pickup is the night before between 4:00 and 8:00 PM at Gary's Shoes in Richfield.
Section A: Frontage Road (1.5 miles)
From the Richfield Lion's Park, pass under the I-70 overpass, and run 1 mile to the South (turn left) on a raised dirt trail paralleling the freeway. At a second overpass, turn West towards the mountains. Follow a new (in 2020) road-base road to the West towards the mountains. You will climb one of the closest hills to a large metal power pole. Continue past the power pole towards the mountains, and through a dug-out notch as you approach Dairy Canyon.
Section B: Dairy Canyon (about 2 miles)
In the 1970’s there was a church-run dairy where I-70 now sits, thus the name of this canyon. It is the most beautiful, diverse, and narrow of the 6 dry canyons running into the Richfield area. Because it is a living canyon, and a huge SUV sized boulder is precariously dangling over a 20 foot cliff, you will start by taking a rocky ATV road along the rim of the canyon the first ⅓ mile, then you drop down into the streambed. Keep working your way up this narrow red-rock canyon, paying attention to trail marking ribbons at a couple junctions. Watch for the owl of Dairy Canyon at the Pillars section.
Towards the top of the canyon it becomes smooth carved sandstone with an approximately 4’ overhang. A rope and step will be there to help with the overhang. There is an ATV trail that parallels the ridgeline just above the stream bed, and just after the overhang you merge with this trail. There are a couple of steep climbs on the ATV trail, and at the top you merge with Flat Canyon as you turn left to the South.
Section C: Flat Canyon & Cathedral Canyon (4 miles round trip )
You run out Flat Canyon, do a loop in Cathedral Canyon, then run back up Flat Canyon.
Flat Canyon changes the running surface up, and this easily runnable section starts slightly downhill, then climbs atop a natural raised fin of smooth packed clay. To the left are rainbow colored hills, while to the right crumbled red sandstone ravines. At the end of the raised fin, drop down, and curve to the right (West) to Aid Station #4: Flat Canyon located in the dry streambed. (well we hope it is dry on race day:-) This is the first aid station for the 25km runners. Check in at the aid station, then head up Cathedral Canyon, making sure to take the right fork of the main streambed about 200 yards after the aid station.
At the picturesque entrance of Cathedral Canyon is a large boulder/chock stone you need to climb over. But as of August 2020, it appears motorcyclists have filled the crack next to the boulder with rocks and trees, making it much easier to climb over. All runners climb over this and continue up Cathedral Canyon. Follow the markings to exit the canyon onto a very old abandoned road, that steeply climbs approximately 315 feet over ⅓ mile. Then follow the ATV trail circling back down to Aid Station #4.
Check back in at the Aid Station, then run back up Flat Canyon to connect to Trail #84.
Section D: Trail #84 (3.4 miles of roller coaster climbs)
This trail rolls up and down (mostly up!) like a roller-coaster through unique red rock views. Stay on the main ATV trail, which as you stay left technically turns into trail #84a. Follow this until it peaks out with a panoramic view into Little Valley to your left, and a nice broad view of the Sevier Valley stretching off to the distance to your right. Do not turn onto the new “SpinalTap trail” that crosses the ATV road/trail. On the last climb you also pass the new “One-in-a-Pinion Trail” DO NOT enter this trail YET. Continue up to the ridgeline, and follow high along the ridgeline to the North about .4 miles until you merge with the One-in-a-Pinion trail (converges just before Trail #84 hits the CC mountain road. Follow the bike trail a few hundred yards, until you cross the road to Aid Station #5: Little Valley Ridge.
Section E: Faulty Trail & Scorpion Ridgeline (≅ 2.5 miles)
From the Little Valley Ridge Aid Station, all runners hit the Faulty trail for 0.5 miles, then cut onto the Scorpion Ridge trail, following along the upper rim of Cottonwood Canyon. You will probably want to stop to snap a photo or two of the expansive canyon below. After about 1 mile you reconnect to Faulty for another 1.3 miles, and you are treated with more views of Cottonwood Canyon, and you also pass the actual crack/fault in the Earth the trail is named after. The final aid station #6 will be at the streambed at the bottom of Faulty.
Section F: Kiln-It, Cairn-Age, and ATV Trails ( ≅ 2 miles)
From the last aid station, you climb slightly to connect to the Kiln-It Trail, which turns left for a few hundred yards. At the top of this little draw, you catch the Cairn-Age Trail for 1.2 miles, as it cruises along the ridgeline, weaving between interesting red rock formations. You will follow trail markings to leave the bike trail and turn down an old ATV trail/road (#103a, though it might not be labeled) a about 300 yards/meters until you hit another ATV road (104) which turns downhill to the East. Follow this trail a about 300 yards / meters more until you come to the brand new “Tank Run Trail” crossing the road.
Section G: Tank Run to Finish (≅ 1.3 miles)
Tank Run (0.8 miles) is a mostly smooth single-track paralleling the freeway far below. This also parallels trail #70 between the two, that 50km runners caught earlier. As you circle to where you can see the pink water tank on the CC Road, exit the single-track trail where marked. This flat area atop the mesa is where Richfield fires off their 4th of July fireworks over the freeway and the Lion’s Park. Take the access dirt road down to the CC road. Turn left and go down the CC road back under the freeway where you started the day, and finish at the Lion’s Park.
50KM Ultramarathon racers start with a loop around Table Mountain, described here. Afterwards, 50km runners then follow the 25km course up Dairy Canyon as described above.
Ultra Part 1: Start, Canal Road, to Rifle Range Road (5.2 miles)
From the Lion's Park, run on a paved bike trail 1 mile following the canal. Carefully cross Richfield Mainstreet (police will be there to assist) and continue on the gravel canal road another 3 miles to the Rifle Range Road.
At the Rifle Range Road turn left to cross the canal bridge, pass under the freeway, and continue on the Rifle Range Road (1.2 miles) towards the mountains to Aid Station #1: Rifle Range.
Ultra Part 2: Trial # 452 & #451 up Table Mountain (3.4 miles)
From the Aid Station, turn left (South) and cross the rocky Willow Creek Streambed, and connect to the ATV trail on the other side. Follow along the hillside (continuing South) gently up and drop down to the next streambed to start on Trail #452 (turning West to the right). Follow this ATV trail up 0.6 miles, and at the first junction, stay right on Trail #452. After 0.5 more miles of uphill climbing, you turn right again onto Trail #451. Stay on the #451 trail, and continue climbing. DO NOT turn off downhill on trail #454. At approximately 8 miles into your run, you leave the ATV trail and follow flagging cross-country down briefly, then up the hillside to the North up to the ridgeline looking down into WIllow Creek Canyon. Follow the ridgeline .25 mile to Aid Station #2: Table Mountain. Check in, then catch Trail #451 again, heading downhill.
Ultra Part 3: Trail #451 to Upper Ken’s Canyon to Trail #105 (about 1.8 miles)
Follow the ATV trail down about 0.5 miles, then drop down into the upper fork of Ken’s Canyon. Follow the streambed down 0.6 miles until Trail #105 crosses the streambed. Turn right (West) and follow Trail #105 for 0.7 miles. Trail #105 will have several short climbs and descents. When you hit the larger small gravel streambed, turn left and enter the lower fork of Ken’s Canyon.
Ultra Part 4: Lower Ken's Canyon to the Lime Kilns (about 1.8 miles)
Here you leave the defined ATV trail #105 and enter a unique dry, yet living, red rock canyon. Watch for markings and beware of cliffs! Follow the streambed down, and pay attention to four cliffs that require leaving the streambed to follow horse trails up and around the main channel. Continue downhill until you exit into the Sevier Valley just North of Richfield next to the old Lime Kilns. Aid Station #3: Lime Kilns will be set up near the freeway frontage road.
Ultra Part 6: Frontage Road to Horizon Trail #70 back to Start/Finish (about 2 miles)
From Aid Station #3, follow the frontage road South to Cottonwood Creek / Canyon, and cross the creekbed. Continue South on the frontage road as it climbs up a couple hundred feet. At the pink Water Tank on the CC Road, follow the road down to the Lion's Park where you started the day. Check-in, refuel, and then head to complete the 25km loop.
"The Pillars" section of Dairy Canyon
Cathedral Canyon (both above and below)
The entrance to Cathedral Canyon
Cairn-Age Trail, overlooking the Sevier Valley below
Table Mountain at dusk and during the day
The new single-track Faulty Trail
A bit of scrambling in Dairy Canyon
Along the rim of Dairy Canyon at the entrance, shortly before dropping down into the canyon. Natural flood erosion in 2019 made it too dangerous to run down in the canyon in this lowest section.
Registration currently open
Morning in Flat Canyon
In Cathedral Canyon
The new Tank Run trail near the end of the course. You can also to the far left see Trail #70 that 50km runners hit in the morning.
Sunrise over the Sevier Valley from the top of Dairy Canyon
Views of the Cottonwood Canyon Rim
The naturally raised clay fin in Flat Canyon
On the new Cairn-Age Trail
In Dairy Canyon
The ledge in Cathedral Canyon (above)
Looking down into Willow Creek Canyon, from Aid Station #2
The "Rainbow Hills" of Sevier County, near the Rifle Range Road
Starting onto Trail #84 (before the roller coaster sections)
On the Faulty Trail
Part 1: Civil Conservation Corp (CC) Road. (1.2 miles)
As you leave the Lion’s Park, you pass under the freeway overpass and begin up the gravel dirt mountain road created by the Civilian Conservation Corp during the Great Depression. (Interesting fact, Ken Isbell, who this race is held in honor of, actually oversaw teams of workmen on this road when it was first being constructed 80+ years ago). You will run up this steep road, past the pink water tower. Run to the side in case there are vehicles on the road. Stay on the main road, and do not take any cut-offs. DO NOT take the cut-off just before the Fishalke National Forest sign, rather continue on the road around that hill. Did we mention the road is fairly steep?
Part 2: Cross County Climb (0.1 miles)
At about 1.2 miles into your run, you will leave the road where boulders have been placed to keep cars from driving to an old overlook spot. Go around these boulders and follow flagging up the side of the hill a couple hundred yards to connect to the Big Red bike trail.
Part 3: The Big Red Trail (and a little Kiln-In) (1.5 miles)
OK, things level out quite a bit when you hit the bike trails, and while you are still climbing, it is much less steep. Follow the Big Red Trail up. As you first hit this trail, there are some easy spots to cut the trail, but come on, just follow the trail or you will be cheating yourself. After 0.4 miles, you cross an ATV road; just continue straight on the marked Big Red Trail. You will pass a small section with planks over rocks which is cool. At about mile 2.6 (cumulative distance since starting) there is a trail junction. Stay left, and continue up the Kiln-It trail another 0.2 miles to the top of the draw, where several bike and ATV trails merge.
IMPORTANT: you will make a large loop, almost a figure-8, through this draw atop the hill. Pay attention. The blue-marked trail heads to your right down the Cairn-Age trail, BUT FIRST, you continue following green flagging, straight and drop down the ATV trail that leads you to the aid /water station.
Part 4: ATV Trail and Streambed (0.25 miles)
As noted above, cross the top of the draw, and take the rocky ATV road down a hundred or so yards to the streambed below. Turn left and follow this smooth gravel streambed a couple hundred to Aid Station #6: Faulty Streambed. This is the only aid station for the 10km, but it is #6 for 50km runners. You MUST check-in here with the aid station volunteers, before you zoom up slightly to catch another section of the Kiln-It trail
To Aid Station #6, 10km runners follow GREEN flagging, but after the aid station, you will follow BLUE flagging back to the finish.
Part 5: Kiln-It and Cairn-Age Bike Trails (1.8 miles)
Turn left at the aid station, and head briefly uphill to catch the Kiln-It trail, as it circles back to the top of the draw you crossed a few minutes earlier. This time, follow the blue flagging to the Kiln-it Trail. This is a fun trail, with interesting rock formations and amazing views, especially at the beginning. At about mile 4.5 into your run, you will exit the Kiln-It trail onto a crossing ATV road.
Part 6: ATV Trails 103/104 (0.25 miles)
Trail #103a is a steep, rocky descent. Keep speeds under control as you zoom down this section, which is only a few hundred yards. You will turn onto another ATV trail, #104, which isn’t quite as steep, but it is still blessed with lots of rocks.
Part 7: Tank Run Trail to Finish (1.3 miles)
Take a hard right onto the new Tank Run trail. Tank Run (0.8 miles) is a mostly smooth single-track paralleling the freeway far below. This also parallels trail #70 between the two, that 50km runners caught earlier in the day. As you circle to where you can see the pink water tank on the CC Road, exit the single-track trail where marked. This flat area atop the mesa is where Richfield fires off their 4th of July fireworks over the freeway and the Lion’s Park. Take the access dirt road down to the CC road. Turn left and go down the CC road back under the freeway where you started the day, and finish at the Lion’s Park.