North Fork Trail Race

Race Information

Welcome to the North Fork 50 Mile/50K Trail Race!  This page has about everything you need to know to run the race.  You can also print out the pdf version of this page above.  If you have any questions that are not answered here, please feel free to email the race director - .


Saturday, race day:

  • 5:15 a.m.  Parking opens - DO NOT ARRIVE ANY EARLIER
  • 5:30-5:45  50 Mile Early Starters Number Pickup and Check-in
  • 5:45-6:45  Regular Start Time Runners Number Pickup and Check-in
  • 5:50          Briefing at start line for early starters
  • 6:00          50 Mile Early Start
  • 7:00          50K and 50 Mile Start
  • 11:00        Start of Barbecue (runs until 8 p.m.)
  • 4:55          Cutoff at 36 (50M)/18.2 (50K) miles (Buffalo Creek)
  • 6:20          Cutoff at 40.5 (50M)/22.7 (50K) miles (Homestead)

BPIA ("Bippy") Start/Finish

The race starts and finishes at the Buffalo Creek Improvement Association (BPIA or "Bippy") Community Hall on Buffalo Creek Road/FS 543 just off County Road 126 in Buffalo Creek, Colorado, about 50 miles southwest of Denver (see directions below).  For a map of the parking and start/finish area, click on the BPIA map button above. Porta-potties will be in the parking area.

Directions to Bippy: The street address for Google Maps or other navigation programs is 18050 South Buffalo Creek Road, Buffalo Creek, CO. There is a link to Google Maps on the Contact page. For those who like directions the old-fashioned way:

From the Denver Area: From CO-470 west of Denver take U.S. Hwy 285 south toward Fairplay about 30 miles to the stop light (the only stop light you will encounter on 285) in Pine Junction. At the stop light, turn left (SE) onto Pine Valley Road (County Road 126). Go 9.7 miles down the big hill, through the little towns of Pine Grove and Buffalo Creek to Buffalo Creek Road.  Turn right onto Buffalo Creek Road and then immediately left onto the small dirt track to go down into the field for parking behind and below the Community Hall.  

From Bailey, Fairplay or other places south of Pine Junction on U.S. 285: Take 285 to the stop light in Pine Junction and turn right (SE) onto Pine Valley Road (County Road 126). From there, follow the directions above to Bippy.

From the Colorado Springs Area: Take U.S. 24 west to Woodland Park. At Woodland Park, go north on CO-67 toward Westcreek and Deckers. At Deckers, 67 becomes Highway 126/Deckers Road. Continue on 126 (its name changes to Platte River Road and then Pine Valley Road) toward Buffalo Creek. It is about 37 miles from Woodland Park to Buffalo Creek, but it could take close to an hour in the dark on race morning. As you come down the hill on 126 toward Buffalo Creek, the speed limit reduces to 30 and you will start to see houses.  Look for Buffalo Creek Road on the left.  Turn left on Buffalo Creek Road and then turn left again immediately onto the small dirt track to go down into the field for parking behind and below the Community Hall.

Please Carpool!

This will be our first time parking in the field at Bippy.  We think we can get all the cars in, but it could be tight.  Please, please help by carpooling if at all possible.


Parking is in the open field behind and below the Community Hall building (not in the gravel parking lot for the Buffalo Creek Recreation Area beyond the Community Hall with which some of you may be familiar).  When you turn onto Buffalo Creek Road from 126, you will turn left immediately, before you get to the building, onto a small dirt track that leads down into the field.  Staff will start directing parking at 5:15 a.m.  Please do not arrive before then--there is no advantage to getting there earlier.  If you do get there before the parking staff, stay in your car on Buffalo Creek Road near the entrance so you can then park where you are directed by the staff.  

Check-in and Number Pickup 

Check-in begins on race morning at 5:30 a.m. for 50 Mile early starters and 5:45 a.m. for other runners inside the Community Hall.  You will get your number and T-shirt when you check in. You will leave your drop bags for Meadows aid station at this time at the signed location in the parking lot next to the building.


The race will start promptly at 7:00 a.m.  At 6:50 a.m. there is a mandatory briefing at the start line with essential information for all runners.  Make your way to the start line by that time.  The start line will be on Buffalo Creek Road at the edge of the trees at the far end of the Community Hall parking lot.

Early Start 

There will be a 6:00 a.m. start only for those 50 Mile runners who are not confident that they can finish the race within 14 hours (16.8 minutes per mile).  Please do not abuse this if you know you can finish in under 14 hours.  The Colorado Trail water only station at 5.1 miles opens at 7:35 a.m. and will not likely be open yet for early starters.  Carry enough water to get you to Shinglemill at 8.2 miles.  If you run faster than 14 minutes per mile, Shinglemill will not be open (and you should not be taking the early start).  You must check in at Shinglemill, so if you get there too early, you will have to wait.

Early starters must check in on race morning between 5:30 and 5:45 a.m. Early starters will not be eligible for age group awards unless there are no other finishers in your age group who started at the regular time. Please notify the race director of your intention to take the early start as far before race day as you can, but no later than 8:00 p.m. on Friday before the race.  Sooner is better!

Drop Bags

All runners (both distances) can have drop bags at the Meadows aid station at mile 14.7 (Meadows is also miles 20.7 and 32.5 for 50 Mile runners). 

  • Leave your Meadows drop bags at the signed location in the parking lot next to the Community Hall building on race morning.
  • You may use anything you want for a drop bag, but make sure it is sturdy, and keep it to a reasonable size.
  • Write your name and race distance clearly on your bag.  You will be responsible for finding your own bag at Meadows, so make it identifiable. 
  • IMPORTANT: When you finish with your drop bag at the aid station, you must move it to the area signed “Drop Bags to Go to Finish.” The only way race staff will know if you are finished with your bag is if it is in the finished bags area, and only finished bags will be returned to Bippy before the aid station closes.
  • The first finished drop bag pickup at Meadows will be at about noon.  These bags will be returned to Bippy around 12:30.  Finished  bags will then be returned throughout the afternoon when race staff get a chance to go out to the aid station.  Bags not placed in the finished area at the aid station will be returned at about 4:30-5:00 p.m.

The Course

The 50K and 50 Mile start together, and the course is the same for both races until Meadows aid station at 14.7 miles. At that point, the courses split.  The 50 Mile runners will do a 17.8-mile segment that returns to Meadows and then complete the 50K course. The 50K is actually about 32.2 miles long. See the Course page for a detailed narrative description of the course and for printable versions of the course directions/turn sheet, elevation profiles, aid station distances and course map.

Course Marking

The course will be marked with surveyor’s ribbon, small flags, and signs. The 50K course, which the 50 Mile also follows, will be marked with yellow.  The additional 17.8 miles of the 50 Mile, miles 14.7-32.5, will be marked with orange.  In addition, red and white striped ribbons will be placed at trail junctions on the trails you do NOT take.  Never take a trail marked with red and white striped ribbons!  Samples will be shown at the pre-race briefing.  Turns will be very well marked, and there will be occasional “confidence” markings in between. Don’t turn off the trail you are on unless the course markings clearly tell you to do so. At some trail junctions, there may be ribbons going more than one way, in which case you will see a sign that tells you which way to go. SIGNS ALWAYS GET PRECEDENCE OVER RIBBONS.

If you have doubts about whether you are on course, keep going until you get to the next trail junction. Almost all trail junctions have signs showing the names of the trails. If there are no course markings at a trail junction, you are off course. Turn around and go back the way you came until you see course markings. NOTE: In 2011, vandals removed markings from a key turn, causing runners to miss the turn. Most runners turned around at the next trail junction when they saw there were no markings, and they got back on course. But some kept going past unmarked trail junctions and did a lot of extra distance. You should print out the course map and turn sheet and carry them with you.  You shouldn't need them, but it's good to have them just in case.

Carrying Water

You must carry a hydration pack or bottle(s) for your water.  We will not have cups of water at aid stations.

Aid Stations

​​Click the link at the top of this page for a printable table of aid stations. All aid stations except Colorado Trail at mile 5.1 (which is water only) will have water, GU electrolyte drink, Coke, Sprite, Mountain Dew, GU gels, S!Caps, potato chips, chocolate chip cookies, fig bars, Payday bars, trail mix, Goldfish, gummy bears, pretzels, pickles, bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. By late morning, they will also have ice.  Aid stations are 4 to 6.5 miles apart. It will likely be warm or even hot in the afternoon, so carry plenty of water!  If it’s hot (as usual) and you’re moving slowly, it can be a long time between aid stations!  Aid stations will have a few cups for sodas and GU drink, but there will be no cups for water.

Poles, Earphones, Dogs

Trekking poles are not permitted as they can be dangerous on the single track trails.  The course is not technical, and poles are not needed.  If you have a medical condition that requires you to use poles for your safety, please email or call the race director for permission.

Earbuds and earphones are discouraged.  Please leave your ears free to hear the sounds of nature around you, as well as your fellow runners and aid station workers.

​Dogs are not permitted on the trails for the race.  Well-behaved dogs on leash are welcome at Bippy (outside only, not in the building) and at aid stations.

Trail Rules

  • Runners must stay on the marked trail.  
  • If you must leave the trail for a "nature call," go well off the trail and be sure to bury all waste and paper. (There are only two toilets on the course--in the Little Scraggy parking area you pass through on the Colorado Trail at about 6 miles and at Meadows aid station.)
  • THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO LITTERING. All trash must go in receptacles at the aid stations. If you leave the aid station with anything, you must carry it to the next aid station. Anyone who violates this rule may be disqualified and prohibited from running the race in the future. If you should see any trash that has been accidentally dropped on the trail, please pick it up and carry it to the next aid station to dispose of it.  
  • You will likely see other trail users, especially mountain bikers—yield to horses; bikers are supposed to yield to you but you never know. Please be courteous.

Crews and Spectators

Spectators and crews can drive to Shinglemill aid station at mile 8.2 and Meadows at mile 14.7 (also miles 20.7 and 32.5 for the 50 Mile race).  50 Mile crews may also drive to Rolling Creek at miles 25.6 and 27.6.  Parking will be limited, so please tell your people to not go to the aid station until shortly before they expect you to get there.  They must follow aid station staff directions for parking.

Crews and spectators may NOT drive to the Gashouse Gulch trailhead and may not stop anywhere along FS 550.  If your friends or family violate this, you may be disqualified from the race.  Runners are responsible for their crews and spectators.

Print out the crew instructions/directions and crew map at the top of this page for your crew and spectators.  Observers are welcome to run or hike into any of the aid stations. No aid (other than encouraging words!) may be given outside of aid stations and their adjacent parking areas, and no one may accompany runners at any time other than allowed pacers as provided below.


No pacers are allowed in the 50K (except on Buffalo Creek Road to the finish as noted below). Runners in the 50 Mile may have one pacer at a time from the Meadows Aid Station at 32.5 miles or any time after that.  Race staff will transport pacers to Meadows in the morning from Bippy.  Timing information will be published as we get closer to race day.  Pacers are encourage to go early and help at Meadows until their runner arrives.

Runners in both races may have as many people as they like join them on Buffalo Creek Road in the last 0.6 mile from Sandy Wash Trail to the finish.


The following are the cutoff times on the course: 

  • Buffalo Creek (36 for 50M, 18.2 for 50K) - 4:55 p.m.
  • Homestead (40.5 for 50M, 22.7 for 50K) - 6:20 p.m.

We have to enforce these cutoffs so that we will have everyone off the course by dark.

Dropping Out

We keep track of all runners, so if something should happen that makes it necessary for you to drop out of the race, NOTIFY AN AID STATION CAPTAIN OR GO TO THE SCORING TABLE AT THE FINISH LINE to let us know you have dropped. If you are unaccounted for at the end of the race, search & rescue may have to search for you and you will likely get the bill.

Switching Races

You can switch from the 50 Mile to the 50K any time before the race starts. Please email the race director to switch. If you are registered for the 50 Mile and decide to drop down to the 50K on race day, you must exchange your number for a 50K number before the race starts. No part of your entry fee will be refunded. Runners may not switch from the 50 Mile to the 50K after the race starts. If you start the 50 Mile race, you will not be counted as a 50K finisher if you switch to the 50K course during the race (whether on purpose or by mistake). 32 miles of a 50-mile race is a DNF.

Post-Race Festivities

The post-race party and barbecue will take place at the finish line at the Bippy Community Hall building and adjacent parking lot. There will be great food and beverages (including Avery beer!) from about 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Plan on hanging around after the race to bask in the glow of your accomplishment, socialize and cheer for later finishers. Bring a comfortable chair so you can sit outside to watch finishers come in. There are tables and chairs inside the building where the barbecue is served. The post-race barbecue is free to all runners, families, friends and volunteers.


All finishers who have made all the cutoffs on the course and complete the distance they started will receive finishers’ awards.  

  • Awards will be given to the overall male and female winners of each race (who will also receive their first place age group awards). 
  • Age group awards will be given to the first 3 finishers in the 29 and under, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70+ age divisions (and 80+ and 90+ if any sign up!).
  • There will also be an award in each race for the first male and female finishers running their first ultra.
  • Early starters in the 50 Mile are not eligible for awards unless there are no other finishers in their age group who started at 7:00. 
  • Any ties for awards will be broken by coin toss.


North Fork is normally a warm to hot weather race, though just about anything can happen with the weather in the mountains in June. Keep an eye on the forecast. The average high temperature for Buffalo Creek in early June is in the upper 70s (which can feel pretty hot when you are working hard out in the sun!), and the average low is in the upper 40s—so you will most likely have a cool start and warm or hot afternoon. Rain showers and even heavy thunderstorms are quite common. BE PREPARED!!

In Case of Cancellation

In the unlikely event the race gets cancelled by the Forest Service or the County due to fire danger, weather, trail conditions or other unforeseen events, we would try to give partial refunds with any entry fees that have not already been used for race expenses, but we cannot promise refunds.