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Jul 8, 2014

Jordan River Valley/North Country Run

Well, I had a fantastic weekend up north and family and the weather was glorious for running too.  I needed 18 miles for my long run this weekend so I decided to head over to the Jordan River Valley and run that and part of the North Country trail.  I have to say it was one of the best trails runs I've ever done!

I got there a little after 8am and it was only 50 degrees out which was so nice!  I was really looking forward to exploring the area.
Deadman's Hill
I love the above sign because the State assumes that if you are going to ride/hike the Backpacking pathway that you are going to spend the night.  I mean, who would run 18 miles in the span of a few hours right?  Haha!

My original plan was to run the entire 18 mile loop of the Jordan Valley Pathway with the North Country Trail in there as well.  Instead I ended up running an out and back route which was good so I knew that I would not get lost.  Well, hoped I would anyway.  You could also run the small 2 1/2 mile loop too which was no easy route either since it was also quite hilly.  Check out the view at Deadman's Hill.  You can actually just drive to see the view and not go on the trail if you so choose.
View at Deadman's Hill of the Valley
No bikes - yeah!
As you can see above, there was no worry about bikes.  I can't see them being on there anyway as it would be much too hard to ride on it as you will see.  The first thing that happens is that the route takes you straight down to the valley.  You are not all the way down but you do go down about 350 feet right away.  I took a picture but this only shows about 50 feet of the drop.
Really hilly start
I could not believe the elevation and I had no idea it would be this hilly.  In fact, it was over 2,100 feet of elevation and the start had a grade change up to 20%!!!!!
The route less traveled
Once you got down there, there were some signs pointing the way.  You could start towards the North Country Trail or go on the Jordan River Valley trail first.  I chose the Jordan River Valley first.  As you can see, within steps it was like there was barely a trail even there!  It kind of made me a little nervous seeing the overgrowth of the trail not knowing what to expect but I forged on.
Technical - natural bridge from a tree trunk
The route was quite technical so it was a not a fast paced run as there were many ups and downs with tree roots everywhere.  It was loads of fun!  Within the first mile I lost my balance and got my feet wet and muddy.  Good thing my Pearl Izumi N2's drain pretty well as they dried out within a few miles.
Some big hills
There was a really large hill right at the beginning and you will see it really clearly on the elevation chart I've posted below.  This was really steep and took some effort to get up it but it was a fantastic route and less technical in this area too.

Then I got to this................

I was thinking, oh boy, a bridge out?  Great.  Do I keep going or not?  In the end, this is what I came to do and I was not backing down.  Did I mention that I was the only one out there.  I only saw one couple on the trail and that was around mile 17!  I continued!
Blue tree markings
I did read about the area and had a little map too so I had somewhat of an idea where I was going.  Some people said it was not marked very well.  That's partially true.  As you can see above though, there were trees marked.  The rectangle meant you were on the North Country trail and the cirle below meant you were on the Jordan Valley Trail.  Sort of both but later on you will see the official signs of the North Country Trail.  These tree markers kept me from getting lost.  Just when I thought to myself, "Am I on the trail still?", I'd see one of these markers and relax again.  I will say the detour was a little unnerving because it really was not on a trail so you just had to trust your instincts a little for direction and watch carefully for the tree markings.
I will say there was lots of variety on the trail.  Technical, non-technical, hilly, sandy, muddy, bushes, long grass, rivers, streams.  You name it and it was out there on this trail.  About three miles into my run, I hit Jordan River Road.  Ok, I could not tell what to do but I heard water so I went that way.  I came up to the Jordan River.  The horse flies in this area were terrible but thankfully, it was the only bad area for them.  I grabbed a quick picture of the river and ran down the road a little more.
Jordan River - taken on Jordan River Road
This is when I came up across the North Country official trail!  I was pumped!  I probably didn't go the right way since I should have stayed on the Jordan River Valley trail but when I saw the sign, I could not resist.
Ready to run the North Country Trail
I continued on the North Country trail.  I was hoping to get at least nine miles out before turning around.
Jordan River
As I continued on the North Country trail, I heard the rushing waters of the Jordan River.  The trail runs next to it for a little while.  It was a fantastic part of the trails.

There were a few little streams running down into the river as well which made the area so pretty.  I kept stopping to take pictures.  Haha!
Official North Country Trail signs
The trail was again marked really well as I was watching for the blue markers and now the official markings of the North Country Trail.  It was starting to get hillier again and I ended up making my way up some larger hills until I came to another scenic area.
Wow, this picture does not do the view justice
The view was incredible!  I could not believe how high I had climbed.
North Country Trail
You can see above, this was a typical view of the North Country trail as it's hilly and somewhat technical - at least in this area.  Before I knew it, I had ran all the way to Pinney Bridge State Campground.  The campground is accessed only by hiking, or in my case running, the route from Deadman's Hill.  No car access so you need to use tents.  They did have pit toilets and also a pump with well water.  I can imagine it would be incredible to stay the night here.  I only saw three camps set up and it was very rustic.

I decided at this point that I would just turn around and head back.  I was already at 8 miles and wanted to run more of the North Country trails anyway.  Some of the trail, I could not even believe there was a trail.  The picture below is a great example.  Where's the trail?  Yes, keep going through this and you would find the other end of it.  The weeds were about chest high and made it quite interesting.  I'm always paranoid going into this kind of trail so I always stopped to check to make sure I didn't pick up any ticks along the way.  Nope, I was good!  It was a little wet in there too so my shorts were soaked after running though this area.
Is this a trail?
Not only were the blue markers helpful both ways but there was distinctive areas like below where there was a tree growing right in the middle of the trail!  It's hard to forget things like this so I knew I was on the right way back.
Distinctive trail
It was back to some hills.  The picture below was almost like a natural staircase with all the tree roots.  How fun to run this or walk it in my case - I was tired!
Hills and hills
There was also some wet areas where the trail association made boards to walk over.  This was really fun and as you ran them, you could hear the slosh of water.  I was really happy these were here otherwise my feel would have been soaking wet.
Great trail maintenance
Again, I passed the Jordan River and stopped for a break and to enjoy the river.  It was just breathtaking and it was such a gorgeous day out for a run.
Jordan River - to clear!
Then it was back on the Jordan River pathway where I got to the detour again.  Once again, the markings were great and kept me comfortable knowing I was going in the right direction.
Great signs!

I made my way back to where I started in what seemed to be the road less traveled for one last great big hill up and down and back up again to the start at Deadman's Hill.

Here's an overview of the route and where I took some of the pictures with my iPhone too.
Map per Strava
As you can see, my route took me out and back.  To my surprise, I could not believe the amount of elevation that I ran at over 2,100 feet of gain and almost 4,000 feet of total elevation.
Almost 4,000 feet of total elevation change - crazy!
I've never ran that much elevation ever since I started running!  I was happy to see it since my October 50k has over 5,400 feet of elevation gain.  At least I'm confident I can do it even if it will be at a turtle pace.  Haha!

Overall, it was a great day and I know I'll be back to explore more of this area.  If you are interested in learning more, check out this link HERE.  Anyone want to run it with me?  I could use some company next time around.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. Looks like a great place to run and that 50km going to be easy if you keep running those miles.

  2. Awesome place to run! Glad you had such a good time out there.