The course starts in downtown Helena, with a neutral roll out through the south end of town. You’ll start on Grizzly Gulch, and pass through many other gulches along the course route. You will see historic sites while traveling just over 92 miles and climbing over 10,000’. The Montana gravel racing course follows old mining routes, logging roads and railroad beds. Once you have left town you will see large brick and timber kilns once used to produce lime. The lime was used in the construction of brick and stone buildings in Helena and the surrounding areas. Grizzly Gulch also produced some $5,000,000 in placer gold mines up until 1869.
The official race start is just past the kilns were the pavement ends. This will also be the race finish line on your return to town.
Once over Grizzly Gulch you will descend Travis Creek Road for 5 miles to Lump Gulch. Lump Gulch which was named in 1864 when a large lump of gold was found by prospectors. Turning right onto Lump Gulch you will climb steadily up toward Park Lake which sits at 6,500’. Just before reaching the lake, you will turn right heading toward Chessmen Reservoir. Chessmen Reservoir supplies water to the city of Helena and is named after William Chessmen who helped develop Helena’s early water systems.
From the reservoir, it’s a rocky descent into Rimini. Rimini is a living ghost town and is one of the oldest mining districts in Montana. It was established in 1864 when silver lodes were discovered. At the bottom of the technical descent turn Left on Rimini Road and climb through the town on your way up towards Scott Reservoir.
Once past Scott Reservoir it’s a long fast almost 20 mile descent into the town of Basin. Along Basin Creek Road you will pass many historic gulches, like Grub Gulch, Weasel Gulch, Wood Gulch, Saul Haggerty Gulch, Lily of the West Gulch, Meyers Gulch and so many more. The road turns to pavement as you enter Basin. From here you will hang a left on Basin Street (their Main Street) and parallel I-15 east. Following the Interstate and the Boulder River you will travel on the old highway and the abandoned railroad grade to High Ore Road.
The climb up High Ore is about 5.5 miles and tops out just past the ghost town of Comet, which was established in 1876. You can still see the Mining works off to your right on the hillside as you ride through the ghost town. At the top of the climb, it’s a tricky descent towards Wickes. The downhill can be technical and the road leading to Wickes can have some pretty good sandy sections. The Wickes Road will take you past the 6,160’ abandoned Wickes train tunnel, but you probably won’t see it because you’ll be concentrating on the road ahead.
Wickes was also a mining town and is known for its historic beehive kilns. The railroad also made a stop here in Wickes and as you turn left out of town and begin another climb, you will pass under a massive steel train trestle. This climb ends with a view of the Alta Mine which primarily mined lead, zinc and silver.
Headed down another rolling descent of about 11 miles you will come to the town of Clancy. Clancy was named after William Clancy, a gold prospector and was founded in 1873. Clancy became one of the largest silver camps in the area. Turning left and passing through Clancy on Main Street, you will continue on pavement to Cutoff Road. Cutoff Road will turn left and become Lump Gulch – the same Lump Gulch that you had ridden up hours earlier, only you rode the top half of the gulch. It’s about a 4 mile climb back to Travis Creek Rod. Turning right, you will ascend the final 5 miles to the top of Grizzly Gulch and then it’s all downhill to the finish!
Rimini Road Fire Station, Mile 23, cut off time 10:15 AM
The first aid station is located at the Rimini Fire Station. This station will have water and snacks for riders as well
as a portable toilet. Limited repair tools for riders that may experience a mechanical on the descent to Rimini road
will also be available. There is not cell coverage at this location
Basin, Mile 47, cut off time 1:30 PM
The second aid station will be in Basin at the bottom of Basin Creek Road. Water and snacks for riders as well as
a portable toilet will be available. We will an EMT/first aid support available (volunteers from ski patrol). There is
cell phone coverage (T-Mobile) at this location
EMT/Support Only, Mile 58, cut off time 3:00 PM
There is a significant technical section of the course above the ghost town of Comet. This portion of the road is
deeply rutted and contains significant large gravel/rocky areas under the high tension power line as well as some
sandy areas as the road approaches Portal. Due to the difficulty of this section of the course it presents a higher
level of risk. We will have volunteers with hand held radios along this section of the course as well as a small
station at the top of the descent. There is perfect cell phone coverage at the top of the hill above Wickes and
there is limited to no available coverage in the narrow canyon below this point. Staff will have radios to
communicate and track riders though this area as well as relay to the area above in order to call emergency
services if required. The road is in good enough condition for 4×4 access through this entire portion of the course
and general vehicle access from below Wickes and Comet.
Clancy Aid Station, Mile 76, cut off time 5:30 PM
The Clancy aid station is at the bottom of Clancy Creek Road in the parking lot of the Clancy Elementary school.
This aid station will have water and snacks for riders as well as a portable toilet.
Finish, Mile 93, cut off time 8:00 PM