On Sunday Justin and I headed up to Crystal Mountain to preview the course for his next race: The Crystal Mountain Sky Marathon. I'm glad I'm not running this race since I won't be ready for this beastly course that climbs over 9,000ft in 26 miles. I'm happy to act as Justin's main crew to make sure he's fueled through the race. Justin met with another runner who will be racing as well. They both set out to navigate the climbs, while I scouted my own route with my trail buddy, Foxy (the Aussie we are dog sitting).
We parked in the Crystal Mountain base lot. Crystal Mountain is a ski resort, so the only option is up. I browsed the map and saw we weren't far from the Pacific Crest Trail. I picked my route and took off on an instant uphill on the Buillon Basin trail (#1156). The trail crossed a service road and then meandered its way up to the Buillon Basin Horse Camp. I knew I could continue straight for a gradual mile to the PCT or I could hang a sharp left on a shorter steeper route that had me scrambling in a power hike, but popped me right onto the trail. I power hiked up and took the more gradual option on the way down.
When I reached the PCT the views were absolutely epic. It was a bluebird day so I was able to see the trail along the ridge as I looked across the range of rolling peaks. The terrain was perfectly run-able with mellow undulations. You can see from the pictures above how inviting (and empty) the ridge line was.
I lost track of time and was on the trail for around 3 hours. My pace was inconsistent because I kept stopping to stare at my surroundings. All things considered, I think this has been one of my favorite trail runs of the summer.
Meanwhile, Justin was on a 4+ hour run with Max, battling the uphills. I stretched for a bit at the car, drank a couple liters of water, ate lunch and was on my way to refill my water bottles when I saw Justin and Max getting out of one of the gondolas. They said they thought about running the last downhill, but the gondola won them over. I don't blame them...
We packed up the car and headed down to the White River for a post-run ice bath before heading back home to Seattle.
If you decide to run these trails, go soon! The weather is changing in Seattle and it won't be long until the Cascades are covered in snow. I usually recommend going on a weekday, but I ran here on a Sunday and the trail was practically empty. If you wanted to make a weekend out of the trails there are a few large campgrounds along hwy 410 not far from Crystal Mtn Blvd.
Crystal Mountain Lodge: 33914 Crystal Mountain Blvd
Buillon Basin Trail (#1156) & Pacific Crest Trail
Elevation Gain: ~2500ft to the PCT from the base lot
I am an outdoor and travel junkie who is currently completing my doctorate in occupational therapy overseas in rural Fiji. On Sweet World Travels you will find stories of my life with my husband, the communities we serve, and the many adventures we take.