Route: Baker Trail (PA)

Pennsylvania, US

The Baker Trail is a 133-mile (214 kilometer) hiking and backpacking trail, following forest paths, old jeep trails, paved roads and dirt roads through woods, farmlands, and along rivers and creeks. The Baker Trail traverses six counties (Armstrong, Jefferson, Clarion, Indiana, Forest, and Westmoreland), is a state-designated hiking trail, and is included on the trails map of Pennsylvania.

Andrew Hollis adds:

The Baker Trail is marked as a typical hiking trail. Yellow blazes on trees, telephone poles, fence posts, guard rails, and so on indicate the path.

Unlike many hiking trails, the Baker Trail is not always a footpath through the woods. In many areas, it follows dirt or paved country roads, some with narrow shoulders. As with road running everywhere, you must always be alert and cautious.

Because of the varying terrain, the UltraChallenge is more mentally demanding than similar ultras. You must always be watching for the blazes in order to stay on the course. In places, the Trail will be following a road only to abruptly turn off the road into the woods. Therefore, if you haven't seen a blaze in a few minutes, you may be off course and should backtrack to the last blaze and determine where you went wrong.

Plenty of runners will go off-course at least once during the day. If you expect -- and accept -- that you will, too, it won't be quite as frustrating. The key to a successful race is to realize it quickly.

The Baker Trail UltraChallenge is a 50 mile supported race that has been held every year since 2005. It's part of the 133 mile long Baker Trail. The race website keeps track of the 50 mile records.

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