The first annual Angeles Crest 100 was held in September 1986. Race Management has strived to keep the race’s original point-to-point course from Wrightwood to Altadena largely in tact, while preserving it’s level of difficulty. However, a combination of new wilderness designations and just nature being nature has mandated
that a few changes be made over the years.
The basic plan for 2023 AC100 is to finish in Altadena via Kenyon/Devore Trail to the top of Mt Wilson, bypassing Chantry. The race will pass through Shortcut, Redbox and Newcomb Saddle, but after Newcomb Saddle, it will go back on the Rincon-Redbox Rd/Gabrielino Trail toward Redbox, but take Kenyon/Devore Trail to the top of Mt Wilson and to Idlehour, Sam Merrill, Millard and Loma Alta Park in Altadena.
The Bobcat Fire of 2020 torched many areas of the course, as runners will begin to see approaching Islip Saddle. Due to excessive damage from the fire and subsequent rainstorms on the trail through Chantry Flats, Newcomb Saddle, Redbox and Shortcut Saddle, trail access remains closed. After two years of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and fire, the decision was made to host an out-and-back course from Wrightwood to Shortcut Saddle and back – a worthy challenge for all who have missed the San Gabriels. We have every intention of returning to the point-to-point course in the future, as the forest allows.
Since 1986 the Angeles Crest 100 was held annually in late September/early October. After the devastation of the 2009 Station Fire and years of drought, the decision was made to move the race to the first weekend in August, in the hopes of avoiding fire season. While the race is undoubtedly a bit more challenging in the Southern California summer heat, the race has not been canceled since.
With the expansion of the Pleasant View Wilderness (PVW) came a major course update in 2016. No longer allowed to use the PCT section in the PVW from Islip Saddle over Mt. Williamson, the race now utilizes the shoulder of Highway 2 until rejoining the trail over Kratka Ridge, lovingly referred to by local runners as the “scenic mound.” The current course between the Islip Saddle and Eagle’s Roost is now a 2.5-mile section of pavement that travels through the Williamson Tunnels.
In 2016, environmental concerns over the endangered Arroyo Toad habitat closed access to the Edison fire road where it crosses the West Fork of the San Gabriel River. Leaving the Shortcut Aid Station, runners now use the Silver Moccasin Trail down to West Fork, turning on the Gabrielino Trail which ascends to the new aid station and crew access point at Red Box. From there, the course travels back down to West Fork via the unpaved Rincon Red Box forest road, continuing directly up to the aid station Newcomb’s Saddle. Adding 8.5 miles and 1,300’ of gain, this new section makes up for the elevation lost over the removal of the Mt. Williamson, Cooper Canyon and Mt. Hilyer climbs and the cumulative mileage lost between Islip Saddle and Three Points. With the added climbing, heat and technical nature of the trail, most runners believe this has made the course significantly more difficult, and truer to the spirit of the original 1986 course.
Jim O’Brien, Hal Winton and Jussi Hamalainen at the 2014 finish line, celebrating Jim’s then 25-year-old record.
AC100 2016 RD Hal Winton. Photo: Dahiya
Continuing the tireless work of Hal Winton, rest assured that we are working year-round to keep the Angeles Crest 100 in business and reduce the amount of mileage this trail race is forced to run on pavement. By fostering relationships with the United States Forest Service through trail service and stewardship, taking an active role in our communities and other special interest groups and lobbying local politicians, we are committed to preserving and restoring the historic Angeles Crest 100 course. Over the past few years, an all-volunteer group formed Trail Running Advocates of Southern California (TRASC), a 901c dedicated to fostering work for play relationships between trail running events and public land management. Their first project is working to return the AC100 to the original course and secure passage along the historic route in perpetuity.