The same route has been used since 1986 and consists of six main sections:
1. The Wilderness - The first four miles of the course has a 2,500 foot climb from Olympic Valley, through Emigrant pass and the Granite Chief Wilderness Area. This section is full of forest-like terrain, is above 7,000 feet and has been known in the past to be completely covered in snow.
2. The Canyons - After the Wilderness, runners climb to the top of Little Bald Mountain before descending 1,043 feet. The trail then becomes fire roads and goes through a ghost town called Last Chance. This is where The Canyons begins, the most rugged 13 mile section. The course drops and ascends, drops and ascends again, with high temps usually around 100 degrees.
3. The Divide - A small but difficult section before runners hit pavement again around Foresthill. The route then turns into remote wilderness again, with a 16 mile descent to the American River Canyon. Heat can still be a challenge during this part, depending on the weather and time of day the runner reaches this point.
4. Rucky Chucky Crossing - In our opinion, the segment with the best name. This is where the trail actually crosses the American River, below Class 6 rapids. (Class 6 is considered extreme and exploratory and is rarely attempted due to the difficulty and danger). A cable runs through the river crossing to assist participants with a safer water crossing. In the past, if the water was really high, boats were used to transport the runners.
5. Darkness - The trail climbs up another canyon, follows Auburn Lake Trails, drops, climbs, then crosses Highway 49. Although this portion of the trail is considered easier than the others, it is run at night and when the runners are the most fatigued.
6. No Hands and a Climb to the Finish - After crossing the highway, runners pass through oaks and grasses then descends one last time into the canyon. Crossing the American River via the historic No Hands Bridge, gives this section it’s name. The final climb of the race is up to Robie Point, just outside of Auburn. The final stretch is pavement once again and circling the track at Auburn Placer High School.