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Editors’ Note: This article originally appeared in conjunction with “Fast Times (and Aesthetic Lines)” in our March 2014 issue.
Races are glorious celebrations of the running community but are, by their nature, constrained and contrived. Trail running, by its nature, is freeing, exploratory, and adventurous. That is where FKTs and adventure runs come in. FKTs and adventure runs are ways to challenge yourself as a runner outside of the confines of a race structure and speak to trail running’s wild and free core. If you are hungry for aesthetic lines through the natural world, a bigger effort, and freedom, here are four adventure routes to check out.
1. Four Passes Loop
White River National Forest, Colorado
- Men’s FKT: Morgan Elliott, 4 hours 17 minutes 50 seconds, September 20, 2017.
- Women’s FKT: Brittany Charboneau, 5 hours 18 minutes 2 seconds, August 5, 2020.
A lollipop lop in Colorado’s Elk Range that crosses, you guessed it, four passes above 12,000 feet altitude. In this quintessential Rocky Mountain terrain, soak in the wildflowers, turquoise lakes, scree slopes, snowfields, and chirping marmots.
2. Wonderland Trail
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
- Men’s supported FKT: Tyler Greene, 16 hours 40 minutes 55 seconds, August 24, 2020.
- Women’s supported FKT: Kaytlyn Gerbin, 18 hours 41 minutes 54 seconds, August 26, 2020.
- Men’s unsupported FKT: Ryan Montgomery, 18 hours 49 minutes 11 seconds, October 3, 2020.
- Women’s unsupported FKT: Alex Borsuk, 24 hours 1 minute 26 seconds, September 10, 2020.
The aptly named Wonderland Trail traces through wondrous, rainforest-like lowlands and treeless alpine around Mount Rainier.
3. White Rim Road
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
About 103 miles and 7,300 feet of climb.
- Men’s supported FKT: Trevor Fuchs 15 hours 59 minutes 52 seconds, November 28, 2020.
- Women’s supported FKT: Kaitlyn Yonke, 20 hours 19 minutes 22 seconds, November 1, 2020.
Ninety-six dirt-road miles (plus seven on pavement) thread through Canyonlands National Park’s Island in the Sky District, named for its 1,400-foot red, orange, and tan sedimentary rock cliffs.
4. Smokies Challenge Adventure Run (SCAR)
Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
About 72 miles and 18,600 feet of elevation gain.
- Men’s unsupported FKT: Canyon Woodward, 13 hours 33 minutes 50 seconds, July 14, 2022.
- Men’s supported FKT: Anthony Groft, 14 hours 19 minutes 45 seconds, April 30, 2022.
- Women’s unsupported FKT: Sarah Hansel, 19 hours 21 minutes 47 seconds, May 9, 2021.
- Women’s supported FKT: Rachel Lemcke, 17 hours 34 minutes 15 seconds, May 29, 2022.
The SCAR is the 72-mile section of the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and clings to its 6,000-foot crest.
Meghan M. Hicks, based in Moab, Utah, holds the FKT between her front door and refrigerator for an after-run beer.