All distances are approximate. Some are rounded up, some are rounded down. The total distance is very close to 100 miles.
The current 100-mile course has evolved through changes in availability of checkpoint locations. Attached to this document is a link to a map that depicts the Susitna 100 course. The rivers and lakes that are named in this description can be oriented to the U.S. Geological Survey's Tyonek Quadrangle, should the truly curious want a clearer picture of what the course looks like in, say, mid-July. In February, however, this country is reduced to two colors, white and green, and is typically framed by a blue sky. Thanks to drifting snow, the region's shallow topography is barely distinguishable. This classic rendering of winter in simple colors and contours is marred only the intrusion of four-foot wide snow machine trails that run for miles across lakes and rivers and through breaks in the tree line. You are grateful for these trails, because they provide the foundation that makes human-powered travel faster than would otherwise be possible.
All Susitna 100 racers are required to check in at least 15 minutes before the start and declare a division. If some of your equipment did not pass inspection at the pre-race meeting, it will be checked after the 9:00AM start.
The race starts (and finishes) at Happy Trails Kennels mile 4.5 West Lakes Blvd, Big Lake Alaska. Allow two hours driving time from Anchorage.
Driving directions from Anchorage –
North on Hwy 1 (Glenn Highway), Hwy 1 turns into Hwy 3 (Parks Highway), go through Wasilla, turn left on Big Lake road at mile 52. Drive 3 ¼ miles on Big Lake Road, turn right on Beaver Lake Road, go 1 mile, turn left onto West Lakes Boulevard (long name, short sign "W.Lks.Blvd"). Approximately 4 ½ miles turn right at sign for Happy Trails Kennels.
HAPPY TRAILS KENNELS (HTK) TO AYRSHIRE RD
Heading straight ahead through this intersection the trail continues a couple more miles turning left for a short section then right again leading to the Little Su boat Launch. Across the Little Su and follow the boat launch road to the intersection with Ayrshire Road.
Follow along Ayrshire Rd staying on the left shoulder to the parking lot approximately 100 yards from the intersection.
Do not travel on the road! We do not have permits or insurance that allows travel on the road. You will be disqualified if you run, ride, or ski on the road!
If you race isn't going as planned at this point, this would be a good place to consider your options as this is the last road access point for many more miles!
AYRSHIRE RD TO FLATHORN LAKE
Approximately 5 more miles the trail enters the woods just prior to Flathorn Lake. A steep decent followed by a right hand turn leads you to the lake where the trail will take you to the far bank. Take care to stay off of the marked runways in this area. About ¼ mile up the shoreline you will find the Flat Horn Lake checkpoint in the red cabin beyond the silver house. This property is home of long-time race supporters Kirk and Peggy Garoutte. Please respect their property and relieve yourself only in the outhouse.
FLAT HORN LAKE TO THE WALL OF DEATH/SUSITNA RIVER
The Dismal Swamp is about 3 miles long and is appropriately named. Only the occasional scrawny black spruce tree belies the impression that you are on a lake. With the wind blowing hard from the North, as is tradition, this can be a brutal and disheartening section. Otherwise, the three miles is simply boring.
At the north end of the swamp, the trail takes you out of the wind and back into the forest for about 1.5 miles to the main Susitna River. Descend the steep drop – "Wall of Death"- onto the main channel of the Susitna River (locally called the Big Su).
WALL OF DEATH TO 5-Star Checkpoint
Once you are on the Susitna River, head to the right (upstream). There will be many snowmobile trails here, so pay close attention to the Su 100 markers. About a mile upstream, you will come to a major intersection, the course turns right towards the riverbank/woods. After accending a steep hill you will be on the Willow Swamp trail. After about 2 miles the trail will split, stay left towards Willow following the race trail markers. Look for the checkpoint on the right of the trail in about 5 miles.
Advice on Traveling the Rivers-
The Rivers are a main transportation route to Skwentna and Yentna Station, as well as numerous cabins and fishing lodges. The trail is usually very firm due to high volumes of traffic. Expect snow machine and dogsled traffic..
At night, you will generally be alone except for other racers and race support. You are strongly discouraged from sleeping on the Susitna Rivers. Not only is it much colder than other sections of the trail, but snow machines travel very fast along these rivers and may not see you. Keep a close eye for race markers.
5-STAR TENT AND DESHKA LANDING/EAGLEQUEST LODGE
EAGLEQUEST LODGE TO COW LAKE
COW LAKE TO HTK/FINISH
Congratulations, you've made it!
Be sure to check in with the race official!