Part of a series of trail runs that take place in parks and forests up and down the California and Oregon coasts, Santa Cruz’s San Lorenzo River Trail Run takes runners through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, a park that’s filled with a centuries-old grove of redwood trees as well as old-growth Douglas fir, oak, mandrone and Ponderosa pines. Hilly and challenging, each race features several steep uphill and downhill stretches, and the half marathon experiences an overall elevation gain of more than 2,100 feet.
Runners will start the race at Harvey West Park, a small family-friendly park located near the southern end of the much larger Henry Cowell Redwoods Park, both of which lie just a short drive north from downtown Santa Cruz.
From there, those running the half marathon will follow a route that winds northward along the a few of the park’s 15 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails — specifically along the Spring, Rincon, Big Rock Hole, River and Eagle Creek, Lookout and Harvey West trails.
The route brings runners all the way north through the park up to its northern end, where a race aid station will be waiting at the half-way point of the half marathon. Once runners grab some refreshments and make the turnaround, they’ll cover the same route they’ve just run in reverse, scaling the hills and scrambling down the downhills all the way back to Harvey West Park for the race finish.
Along the way, the trees are probably what many runners will notice most, as some of them reach nearly 300 feet into the sky, and a number are between 1,400 and 1,800 years old.