Introduction to Trail Running: Backcountry - 2019

Trail Running Course

Introduction to Trail Running: Backcountry

Learn how to get started with wilderness trail running. Go farther and faster in the backcountry safely. Optional weekend of North Cascades trail running!

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers course.

Introduction to Trail Running: Backcountry is designed to introduce participants to trail running in more remote wilderness locations. The curriculum focuses on how to travel as a runner in the backcountry safely, and the knowledge and resources you'll need. This course is ideal for outdoor recreation enthusiasts with an interest in trail running and runners who wish to take their trail running to the next level. This course's badge is required for participation in backcountry trail running trips that the Foothills Trail Running Committee offers.

Course components

The course consists of the following components; all are required:

  • A 2.5 hour classroom session
  • Successful participation in at least 3 field trips to a backcountry location, e.g., a trail in the I-90 corridor, off Highway 2, or the Pacific Crest Trail, to reinforce what you have learned and evaluate your learning. It's recommended that you are in shape to comfortably run or run/walk 5 miles on hilly trails in order to have a successful experience during the field trip.
  • Earn a stewardship badge for taking part in a trail maintenance (or similar) activity
  • Wilderness First Aid or equivalent
  • Navigation badge or equivalent
  • Low Impact Recreation skill badge

Learning Outcomes

  • Be able to plan and carry out wilderness trail runs by evaluating factors that impact trail running such as weather, terrain, and trail conditions, while accurately predicting time, effort, hydration, and nutrition required
  • Be able to evaluate trail runs and races to determine if they are suitable for you, based on your interests and skill/fitness level
  • Be familiar with safety concerns specific to trail running and best practices for safety and emergency preparedness; be able to assess safety during a trail run 
  • Demonstrate on-trail navigational competency
  • Be familiar with gear specific to trail running and know how and when to use it, including micro-spikes, packs, and trekking poles
  • Know how to travel in accordance with Leave No Trace principles as part of lower-impact recreation

Optional North Cascades trail running weekend Friday, Sept. 6- Sunday, Sept. 8

In addition to the course, we are offering an optional opportunity to trail run with us in the North Cascades the weekend of Sept. 7-8. We have a group camping area reserved for 2 nights, Friday, Sept. 6, and Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Lower Goodell Group Campground.

All course members are welcome to participate in this weekend, whether by doing a trail run or two with us or even simply just hanging out. You're welcome to stay over on Friday and Saturday nights, or just Saturday night. There will be a modest additional fee paid on-site if you do participate in order to cover the cost of the group campsite. Friends and family members are welcome to stay at the campground with course members, but please note that we probably will not be arranging kid-friendly activities nor offering childcare.

Lower Goodell Group Campground is located at mile marker 120 on State Route 20. From Burlington, WA, drive 60 miles east on State Route 20. From Twisp, WA, drive 82 miles west on State Route 20.

Lower Goodell Group Campground
Milepost 120 State Route 20
Newhalem, WA 98283
For campground inquiries, please call 360-854-7200. 

Course Requirements
Course Activity Date Availability Leader
Classroom session
Online Classroom
Tue, Jun 16, 2020
Registration closed Jun 16
20 participants
5 instructors
Intro to Trail Running: Backcountry Field Trip (optional)
Talapus Lake Trail
Wed, Jun 24, 2020
Registration closed Jun 24
10 participants
2 instructors
Suntop Trail
Sun, Jun 28, 2020
Registration closed Jun 27
10 participants
2 instructors
Chuckanut Ridge
Sat, Jul 18, 2020
Registration closed Jul 10
10 participants
2 instructors

Additional badges needed to graduate


Required Equipment

Please wear layers of breathable, technical clothing suitable for outdoor aerobic activities for this course's outdoor activities.

  • Waterproof jacket, hat, buff, gloves, sunglasses; running-specific gaiters recommended
  • Trail running shoes
  • A small day pack suitable for trail running
  • Bring snacks and water
  • Trail running-adapted ten essentials

North Cascades trail running weekend

For this weekend you would be car-camping so please bring shelter, food, clothes, and gear that will help you have a fun camping experience plus the clothes and equipment you will need for the activities you intend to participate in.

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.