The Rock The Ridge course is set almost entirely on the carriage roads of Mohonk Preserve and the adjoining Minnewaska State Park. Although there is a significant amount of elevation change throughout the course, the roads are wide and level in most places and do not present a high degree of difficulty with footing. This makes for a very manageable course for those who choose to make completing the distance their primary goal. At the same time, the very runnable nature of the carriage roads sets up well for seasoned endurance athletes who may be looking to make good time or even set a 50-mile PR.
LEG 1 – “OVER THE HILL” (9.8 miles)
You’ll begin your journey from a historic piece of property called the Testimonial Gatehouse, a structure that is part of the history of the Mohonk Mountain House, the world-famous hotel perched high atop the Shawangunk Ridge. Moving out across Butterville Rd and up Lenape Lane, the magnificence of the ridge presents itself in full panoramic style. After three miles of steady climbing, you’ll reach Mountain Rest Rd and the Mohonk Golf Course. With the bulk of the initial climb behind you now, the course crosses the road and skirts the golf course along Spring Farm Rd.
By the time you’ve finally caught your breath from the climb up Lenape Lane, you’ll meet with another one – this time up and over Guyot Hill. On the other side of the hill, the course will bring you back alongside the golf course for a second look. Looping around the base of Guyot Hill again, the route steers toward (and then past) the remarkable Bonticou Crag, a rock formation that is perhaps the most noted in the Preserve, and a veritable treat for the eyes.
Passing the crag, the course continues slowly downhill out toward the Slingerland Pavilion, located at Spring Farm. Here is vantage point from which you can feast your eyes on the Preserve’s world-renowned “Million Dollar View,” a vista of the high peaks of the Catskill Mountains 30 miles in the distance; a true “purple mountains’ majesty.” The view is so breathtaking that you probably won’t be able to keep yourself from stopping for a moment to take it in. Spring Farm is also the first major aid station of the race, and Team Relay Exchange Point #1.
LEG 2 – “SKYTOP DREAMS" (14.1 miles)
As you leave Spring Farm, you will climb yet again, first somewhat steeply, and then more gradually. After several miles of traveling in the northern section of the Preserve, you’re now heading south toward the lands of the Mohonk Mountain House, where you’ll ascend to the Skytop Tower, the highest point in the first half of the course, and arguably the most scenic viewpoint of anywhere along the Shawangunk Ridge. From this locale, you’ll see nearly the entire ridgeline, and also be treated to direct views down onto Mohonk Lake, the famous Mohonk Mountain House, and the lands of Minnewaska State Park in the distance.
Descending from Skytop, you will traverse Forest Drive, circle around Home Farm, and eventually arrive at Rhododendron Bridge, one of the hinge pins of the Undercliff / Overcliff area of the Preserve. The course continues from here on Overcliff Road, a gentle 100-ft climb over two miles, bringing you to Trapps Bridge, a turning point that will direct you toward the lands of Minnewaska State Park, which comprise the middle 14 miles of the Rock The Ridge course. Two miles beyond Trapps Bridge is Lyons Rd, your next major aid station, and Team Relay Exchange Point #2.
LEG 3 – “CASTLE POINT" (13.8 miles)
Just beyond Lyons Rd is the border of Minnewaska State Park, where begins a tranquil romp through the woods on your way to Awosting Falls. As you stop to experience the beauty of the most scenic waterfall in the ‘Gunks, take a few deep breaths, as it is time to begin the most difficult climb of the entire Rock The Ridge course. From the base of the falls you will climb over 400 feet in less than one mile to the shoreline of Lake Minnewaska. Just smile and remind yourself how much you love hills.
And with that climb accomplished, suffice it to say that the best is yet to come, as you will spend the next four miles ascending another 500 vertical feet to Castle Point. Along the way, you will drink in another brief view of Lake Minnewaska before gradually seeing more and more of the eye-popping views of the Palmaghatt Ravine, Gertrude’s Nose, Hamilton Point, and the Lower Hudson Valley 30 miles in the distance.
Now at the highest point of the race course (and 30+ miles into it), you may elect to stop and regroup yourself. Soak in the amazing views to your south and east. The major hill work is done now, and you will relish the opportunity to do 2,000 feet of downhill running over your final twenty miles. As you pass Castle Point you will enter a circuitous loop around some of the area cliffs, eventually passing Battlement Terrace, a dramatic cliff that you will run virtually underneath. Past Battlement Terrace you will reach a trail junction, and turn right toward Lake Awosting, a pristine body of water that is a virtual centerpiece of the Minnewaska lands.
After dipping your toe in the lake (metaphorically speaking), you’ll begin the four-mile trip from Awosting back to Lake Minnewaska, a pleasant gentle downhill with periodic glimpses of the Catskill high peaks as you go. From Lake Minnewaska’s swimming area, you’ll make good time going steeply downhill to Awosting Falls, and then all the way back to the next major aid station (and Team Relay Exchange Point #3) at Lyons Rd.
LEG 4 – “HOMEWARD BOUND" (12.8 miles)
About two miles out of the aid station at Lyons Rd. the route reaches Trapps Bridge again, from where you will begin a very picturesque segment of the race along Undercliff Road, perhaps the most popular section of Mohonk Preserve lands for rock climbers, and also boulderers, whose sponge safety mats are a staple here during the summer and fall months. Approximately two and a half miles later, you will return to Rhododendron Bridge, turn onto Oakwood Drive, and tackle the final uphill segment (modest as it may be) of the course. Traversing Kleine Kill Rd, then Duck Pond Rd, you will pass the Duck Pond itself and give one final wave to the ridge as you amble down the mountain.
Finally on Farm Rd., you will run about a mile before reaching Kleine Kill Farm, where you’ll reconnect with Lenape Lane - the road upon which you began this special journey - and make the turn for home. Crossing the Catskill Aqueduct, and then negotiating the S-turn, you will dash down the hill, across Butterville Rd, and through the tree-rimmed passageway of the Pin Oak Allee to the finish line at the Testimonial Gatehouse. A job well done, and a day you will remember for a long, long time!
COURSE MAP (click here to download a pdf)
COURSE ELEVATION PROFILE
LEG 1 - "OVER THE HILL" (9.8 miles)
|Mountain Rest Road||1120'||3.9|
LEG 2 - "SKYTOP DREAMS" (14.1 miles)
LEG 3 - "CASTLE POINT" (13.8 miles)
LEG 4 - "HOMEWARD BOUND" (12.8 miles)
|Forest Drive / Rock Spring Bridge||1100'||45.9|
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