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Run Oregon Virtual Race Series: 5-Miler on the 1000th Trail

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Start at red dot in lower right corner, follow white trail north to yellow loop, return to white trail and circle to the west, peak Baskett Butte and then return to red dot.

Run Oregon has created virtual, free "time trials" in areas around Oregon, along with a form through which you can submit your times. Use it to compare times to friends (and competitors), or track your own progress - we will create "awards periods" with some time windows where we'll do prizes for things like fastest time, most improved time, or most miles run on the loop. Then, once you've run, log your time here. You can also find the time log at any time from the "Virtual Time Trials" link on the Run Oregon home page, where we'll add new courses as they come up. We'll occasionally post results  with your name and time, unless you check the box to keep your name private (then we'll just use your initials). We might also post aggregate age group and gender results, but without names. Your email address will never be posted. If you have ever driven to the Oregon Coast via Highway 22 out of Salem, you have probably seen the signs for Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. It is on the north side of the highway and has a wide open expanse for birds and wildlife to chill. But did you know there are also some trails in them thar hills? The Rich Guadagno National Recreation Trail is the 1000th National Rec Trail - hence the name of our latest Virtual Race Series race - the 5-Miler on the 1000th Trail.

Starting line!

The trails are only open from April-September, so make the most of this summer and head about 13 miles west of Salem to check it out. There trails are a mix of gravel, dirt, and grassland and most of the time is a solitary place to just run amongst nature. There is a restroom at the start/finish/parking area as well. There are some signs that state “no jogging” nearby, so please remember to run only :). Seriously though, just be sure to be courteous to hikers, families, photographers, and wildlife and no littering!

This is the fourth of our Virtual Race Series, coming after the Portland Waterfront Loop Virtual Time TrialTualatin Hills Nature Park Time Trial, and Lake Oswego Country Club Mile.

The course:

Click here to check out the route. The race begins at the first wooden power pole to the south of the parking area and ends just as you re-enter the parking lot.

The start is on the gravel Coville Road – with the line right at the first wooden power pole.  Begin by heading uphill through the parking lot and onto the uphill gravel path. Keep right at the first fork at .23 miles. Another fork will appear at mile .5 – also stay right. Another fork will appear shortly thereafter (mile .65) and again a right will be taken up the hill. At mile .75, you will exit the tree canopied section and be spit out to an amazing view on the edge of a large field. Keep moving along the very outside of the field. Mile 1 will hit as you hit the field’s curve.

Looking north near mile .65

At mile 1.75, there will be some tall (think feet tall) grass which creates a little mini running “lane” between the tall grass and the lake. Just afterwards, the grass will give way to a loose gravel trail before hitting mile 2 near the northwest corner of Morgan Lake. Beyond that is a parking lot (2.25) and rural Smithfield Road. Runners should hang a left as they enter the road and head west for .25 miles until there is another gravel trail leading back south. I have run this on numerous occasions and the gate was open once and closed once. When closed, there is an easy way to navigate through the barbed wire so fear not. Stay on the gravel path for a good stretch as you pass by blackberry bushes, farmland, a small lake, and a variety of marshes for wildlife and water fowl. Just make sure you keep some energy in the tank.

Uphill Climb at mile 3.5

At mile 3.5, there is a significant climb (which will then be followed by 2 additional climbs). Though the first climb is steep, it is short (keep to the right at the fork at mile 3.73 and you will level off). At mile 3.91, you will (yet again) stay right at the fork and enter the dirt trails under thick treed canopies. This gradual climb will push you a bit more upwards before leveling off (and thankfully going downhill a bit near the end). At mile 4.45, you will hit a sign before heading up to the observation deck at the top of Baskett Butte. Circle the observation deck before heading back down the hill, likely with a smile on your face because your climbs are DONE! Turn right at that previous sign and make your final downhill stretch to the finish line at the parking lot.

Oregon white oak grove (mile 3.73). Stay on the trails to avoid poison oak!

Here is a little cheat sheet you could print and run with if you so desired:

  • Start at power pole
  • Rt at fork .23
  • Rt at fork .25
  • Rt at fork .65
  • Follow grass
  • Lt on Springfield Rd.
  • Lt on gravel entry
  • Uphill at 3.5
  • Rt at fork 3.73
  • Rt at fork 3.91
  • Rt at sign 4.45
  • Circle Obs. Deck
  • Rt at sign 4.69
  • Finish at parking lot

We will be checking those times!

Final out-and-back climb to Baskett Butte before returning to start

Keep checking out our Run Oregon Virtual Time Trial for routes in other areas and for other distances. As always, if you have a great route you’d like us to review and potentially add to our line-up, be sure to let us know (and include a public link to the map). Before you send your route in, though, make sure it’s a safe route with no road crossings (or any road crossings are safe for pedestrians and easy to see cars coming as you approach).

About Matt Rasmussen (1522 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010. Matt joined the Run Oregon team in October 2011, and since then he has spearheaded the blog’s efforts to cover product reviews, news about businesses related to running, and running events in the Willamette Valley.

2 Comments on Run Oregon Virtual Race Series: 5-Miler on the 1000th Trail

  1. I’m going to the Dragon Run in Dallas this Saturday and thought a Friday run at Basket Slough might be in order. Then I saw the reference to the “no jogging” signs and remembered when that had been in the news before: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/travel/outdoors/2014/04/13/jogging-forbidden-at-area-refuges-since-speed-can-distress-animals/7685447. I made a mental note at the time that I might not want to plan running again at Finley NWR.

    Curiously enough, there are runs this weekend on a refuge in Virginia: http://dismalswampstomp.com. I also found other 5K runs are held on refuges, including a couple from last year listed here on a federal site: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/visitors/RefugeWeek2015.html. So are our animals more sensitive, and/or are our refuge managers more sensitive? I certainly don’t want to stir up trouble with a run, but on the other hand, I don’t think I’m as invasive as an ATV, bicyclist, or horse.

    • I don’t know an exact answer to your question, but I do know that when I was one of the RD’s for Hagg Mud 25k/50k, we had to avoid part of the trail due to a sensitive butterfly habitat. It was not an issue for years and then … it was. So, I imagine it has to do with a combination of the time of year, any known issues with animal populations or specific animals living in that area, or even an environmental issue such as replanting after a flood, etc. It may also be because of scientific studies where a runner or walker may unknowingly interfere with the research. So I think your best bet is to contact them directly if you have any questions, and then spread the news so that others can understand the reason. I’ve found that just saying “NO!” is much less effective than, “No [running] due to [this reason].” That all being said, “Speed can distress animals” … ha, I don’t run that fast. The animals probably would think I was a sloth! – Kelly

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