Start & Finish
Start: The race starts at 8:00 on Fanny Hill at the end of the Snowmass Village Mall. In an effort to reduce congestion on the race course, there will be 7 wave starts. Wave placement will be based on historical and estimated finish times. Waves will be posted prior to packet pick-up the week before the race. You can determine which wave you are in when you pick up your bib or by checking back on this website. If you do not provide a time, you will be placed in wave 7. The waves will start 5 minutes apart: Wave 1 @ 8:00, Wave 2 @ 8:05, Wave 3 @ 8:10, Wave 4 @ 8:15, Wave 5 @ 8:20, Wave 6 @ 8:25, Wave 7 @ 8:30. For directions to the start, please see the “TRAVEL” section.
Finish: The finish line for the course is at Koch Park in Aspen.
HYDRATION STATIONS / CUT-OFF TIMES
NEW: There will be two hydration stations for the 2023 Golden Leaf. The first station will be at mile marker 4, where the Government Trail leaves the ski area service road. The second will be just after mile marker 8 on the service road where the Government Trail starts to cross West Buttermilk.
This is a running race (not walking). There will be cut-off times. The first cutoff time is 1 hr 10min at the 4 mile mark/1st aid station (where the Government Trail leaves the Elk Camp Ski Area Rd). The second cutoff time will be at 3 hrs 10 min at the paved Tiehack Road where the trail leaves the Buttermilk Ski Area – just after mile 11. If you cannot achieve these times, you will be asked to exit the race course and medical personnel and sweeps will pass by you.
The course description below is for the 2022 race. Changes in the course may be necessary – please check back in September for a final course description.
Course Map: To download a course map, please click here.
Course Description 2022: The Golden Leaf starts on Fanny Hill just off the pedestrian mall in Snowmass Village at an elevation of about 8650ft. The course climbs up a ski area access road about 400 yards to a large maintenance building where the road splits. You will take the road that wraps around behind the building (going to the right). The road is fairly flat here for a few hundred yards. You will then turn left (just after passing a small beige building also on the left) onto a service road that goes up the Dawdler ski run. The uphill grind continues here. Continue climbing Dawdler to a 4-way intersection and take a left. Follow this road a couple hundred yards to a pond where there is a fork in the road. Take the right fork (the pond will be on your left) & ascend to the 1st aid station at about 1.63 miles (elevation approx. 9465 ft). The Government Trail intersects the road at this point. The West Government Trail was permanently realigned on the Snowmass Ski Area a few years ago. The Golden Leaf will be following this new alignment. The trail turn-off (and the hydration station) will now cut off about two hundred yards before the old turn-off and hydration station. The trail is still to the left (east). It follows a well cut and marked trail (called, again, Government Trail) until it meets the old trail just before the broken down footbridge that was at the old two mile mark.
The Government Trail is a single track that contours the mountainsides between Snowmass & Buttermilk before descending to the outskirts of Aspen. The trail is dirt with some obstacles (rocks, roots, etc.) and the terrain is hilly aspen forests & meadows. The 1st section is a rolling descent across Snowmass Ski Area. At about 3.25 miles, the trail merges w/a dirt road (Alpine Springs work road). Proceed downhill on this road and look for the trail to your right after 100 yards. Shortly, you will make a steady 100yd climb up a ski run to an abandoned work road. Follow this road to the left and slightly downhill until you intersect Elk Camp Road (approx. 4 miles). Turn left and go downhill on the road until you hit the Government Trail turn-off to the right. Take this to the right and you will be on the old race course alignment again. There are many signs and maps here. The course then continues on as it has in the past.
It goes down a long gradual hill to a meadow. Soon you will exit the ski area. There is a significant hill climb of about 300 ft. just before the Second Hydration Station (6.5 Miles, elevation approx. 9360 ft). Following the aid station, you are rewarded w/ some relatively flat to declining terrain.
The next landmark is a Forest Service gate (just after 8 miles) followed by a very rocky flat section. Subsequently, the course begins a gradual descent across Buttermilk and then the trail begins an extended steeper descent into Maroon Creek. One section of the downhill is a power line cut followed by an intersection with a service road. Abandon the trail and follow the road for about 400 yards, even though the trail falls steeply off to the left. The third hydration station (10.5 miles) is on this short road section. The trail from the aid station diagonals across the ski slope following first a double track then a single track until it leaves the eastern margin of the ski area. The trail then winds down to the Tiehack road which is followed to the north until taking a hard right onto the Terral-Wade bridge. After crossing the bridge the route leaves the asphalt, taking a trail to the left (thru the Moore Property). After about a mile running in the sage the route leads out onto the Maroon Creek Pedestrian bridge, takes a left onto the bike path and takes the next left onto the Castle Creek Pedestrian bridge. On the path leaving the bridge where it takes a hard left the route takes a hard right instead. Follow a single track by a pond on the right. The path goes left here and diagonals to the community garden across the parapet/hanglider landing zone. The route goes right where the access to the garden is on the left and follows double tracks to the bike path leading over the Marolt bridge. Taking a left off of the bridge onto 7th street the route leads to Hopkins Ave. where it follows the adjacent bike path a few blocks until the turn up to Little Cloud Park. After taking this turn, a hard left is taken onto the dirt path on the old train right of way. The path is followed a few hundred yards to the finish line.
PLEASE NOTE – there may be changes to the course based on ski area maintenance and USFS requirements. Please check back 3 weeks prior to the race.
Caution! This is a backcountry race course and contains many obstacles including embedded rock, loose rocks and dirt,roots, water and more. The presence of bear, moose and mountain lion may exist also. In addition to possibly hazardous trail conditions, weather conditions can change rapidly in the Aspen Snowmass area. Whereas there are volunteer medical personnel along the course and at aid stations, there is no guarantee of rescue or medical attention. Each participant is ultimately responsible for their own rescue and preparation for course and weather conditions. This means carrying protective clothing in case of bad weather or injury. Rescue from an injury is not guaranteed and may be delayed due to other injuries or distance from medical personnel.
Directions to Start: From Hwy 82, turn south on Brush Creek Rd towards Snowmass Village. Follow Brush Creek Rd until you hit the Main Bus Stop in Snowmass Village. The Snowmass Village Mall is on the same level as the bus stop. Follow the mall to the end. There will be signs directing you to registration. The actual starting line is out on the ski area slopes at the end of the mall. Directions to Finish: From Snowmass Village Follow Hwy 82 into Aspen where it becomes Main Street. Before the first of 4 consecutive traffic lights (just after the Molly Gibson Lodge and before Paepcke Park) turn right on Garmisch St. The race finish is at Koch Park which is on the fourth block on your right.
PARKING IN SNOWMASS VILLAGE: Subject to change, but in the past, during summer and fall, parking in Snowmass Village lots 1-5, 8-13 is free with no time limit. There is also free parking in the Base Village parking garage – a ten minute walk up Fanny Hill to the start.
SHUTTLES / BUSSES:
Bus Service Please check back in September as this is subject to change. Regular RFTA bus service (no charge / mask required) runs all day long from Rubey Park Bus Station in Aspen. Take a Roaring Fork Valley Local bus (ex: L Glenwood). These leave at :15 & :45 (starting 6:15) & arrive at Intercept Lot (the turnoff to Snowmass Village) 15 minutes later. At Intercept Lot, change bus to Snowmass Village (SM or SMV) bus. This bus leaves at :00 and :30. It’s a tight connection and bus should wait for Aspen bus but it is not guaranteed. So, give yourself plenty of time. For more information, go to rfta.com > Maps & Schedules > Local Valley & Snowmass/Aspen.
Race Shuttle Van shuttles for the race will be available from Aspen To Snowmass Village in the morning prior to the race. Schedule will be posted in September.
After the race, you can use the same RFTA bus service as it runs all day long from Rubey Park Bus Station in Aspen to Snowmass Village at :15 & :45 after the hour.
All buses may be subject to capacity restrictions.
For lodging information in Aspen call 877-831-5645 or visit https://aspenchamber.org/plan-trip/accommodations