Sunday, September 21, 2008

Big Dabrowski 50k Trail

NW Ultras, a Washington State based trail running group, has documented Chris Dabrowski's great link-up that winds its way through four distinct wilderness regions located only 30 minutes from downtown Seattle as the "Big Dabrowski 50k Trail". The route crosses three peaks of the Issaquah Alps; Tiger Mountain, Squak Mountain and Cougar Mountain, eventually making its way down Coal Creek Park to finish at Newcastle Beach Park on Lake Washington. With over 95% of the run occurring on trail, this course provides participants a chance to experience the enchanting wilderness green belt called the “Mountains to Sound Greenway”.

Runners are a legitimate group of low impact trail users who can also become conservationists if they aren’t already. A low impact activity such as trail running can provide the opportunity for its participants to experience vast tracks of wilderness trails and lands. This experience most often leads to an appreciation for these wild lands and naturally results in the desire to protect and preserve it for future use and generations. It also in turn creates a growth and strengthening of the community of advocates and conservationists that will provide a voice and the critical support when these important areas come under the threat of development.

Doing The Run

The Big Dabrowski 50K route is a fine point-to-point 50k for experienced trail runners. Consider this a wilderness run and plan accordingly. One benefit of this course is that there is almost 100% cell phone coverage and should something go awry help is not far away. However, runners should still plan on being self-sufficient and have the minimum essentials for the outing. Recommended are the following (weather depending):

  • maps - preview the course and get your own Tiger and Cougar maps (see below)
  • altimeter (helpful for route finding)
  • water bottle/pack
  • food (gels, bars, etc.)
  • communication device (whistle and cell phone)
  • emergency blanket and light jacket


Green Trails is THE authority on trail maps in Washington. In this age of instant internet mapping, we need to continue to support the guys who make high quality and accurate maps specifically targetted at trail users. Green Trails sells the Issaquah Alps, Mt Si and Rattlesnake Lake maps as a Map Pack which you can find here:

If you really do only want Tiger and Cougar, you can buy them individually here:

If possible, please support Green Trails by purchasing directly online from them and avoiding the middlemen.

Route Overview

The Big Dabrowki 50K is a 50 kilometer (31.25 mile) point-to-point course running from the east side of Tiger Mountain and finishing at Newcastle Beach Park on Lake Washington. The route runs through varied terrain of which the majority is narrow dirt trail and involves approximately 4600+ feet of elevation gain and about 6000+ feet of elevation loss. The route can be broken into four distinct sections each linked by a well defined urbanized area. Overall there are 5 major urban road crossings where cautioned needs to be exercised.

Course Overview Map
(Click image for a larger format)

Detailed Course Description

The four sections of the course are described in detail in the
attached file or click on the PDF box below to download a copy. Each section of the course is depicted on an individual topographical map which corresponds to the areas outlined on the overview map above. Due to the large area encompassed by Tiger Mountain, the Section I map has been divided into an East and West Tiger map. The recommended self-support stash locations are indicated by a blue and purple target. They correspond to the start and end locations for each section as described in the distance and elevation summary charts found in the file below.

Safety & Integrity

Nothing is worth getting hurt for so safety comes first. Having a fun day comes second.

Getting lost on any of these mountains on a bad weather day can get serious fast. Common sense rules. Don't do anything dodgy.

Be low key and stay on the trails, absolutely no littering (no gel packets!) and be super-courteous to other trail users - no raucous behavior, slow down to a walk when passing and be friendly!

If thinking whether to being man's best friend on this run please research and conform to the rules and regulations of the various park areas which are governed by the WA DNR, King County Parks, WA State Parks and Bellevue Parks. Most require pets be leashed and that owners pick-up after their dogs. In addition, other trail users and runners should be taken into consideration as they might not feel as comfortable with animals about.


August 10

  • after a quick preview of the route this weekend it has become apparent that Bellevue City Parks is reworking the Coal Creek Park trail section where it crosses Coal Creek Parkway. This section of trail is being rerouted towards Forest Drive to provide a safer alternative to crossing the busy Coal Creek Parkway at a traffic light. Check back for details regarding where the course will be rerouted in this area and an update will be made to the Coal Creek Park map showing the new route. Thanks for your interest.

August 18

  • below is an image of the course reroute where it crosses Coal Creek Parkway and the Course Description file has been updated to show the changes on the Coal Creek Park map. The updated route is shown in blue where it runs along the sidewalk for 0.1 miles and crosses more safely at the traffic light. The dirt trail picks up again directly behind the traffic light post after the crossing but is currently not signed. It eventually leads back in to the Coal Creek Park trail.

August 29

The 2008 running of this event has been changed to a self-supported / self-guided trail run.

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