Desolation Duo

40 Miler and Marathon

Find some dharma atop Desolation Peak, or at least some incredible mountain views, with this pair of early summer mountain routes in the North Cascades!  



Friday through Sunday. June 7-9, 2019


The Desolation Duo offers two spectacular courses in the heart of the North Cascades National Park.  After a boat taxi to the trailhead, most of the miles here are scenic, moderate lakeside routes, except for the 4,500’ climb up Desolation Peak. From this iconic lookout, runners are rewarded with expansive views of craggy peaks, snowy glaciers, and Ross Lake. From the summit it’s all downhill and rolling trail to your post-run feast.


For topographical route information, elevation profiles, and a downloadable GPX file of the routes, visit our Caltopo Desolation Duo Trail Map.

Photo Gallery

For images and inspiration from previous trips visit our Desolation Duo Photo Gallery.


Our basecamp will be staged out of the Colonial Creek campground inside the North Cascades National Park. Aspire will provide lively camp amenities for a remote but comfortable “glamp” style experience. Runners will need to provide or rent a personal tent, sleeping bag, pad, etc. 


This trip begins and ends at the Colonial Creek Campground. It will be possible to carpool with other runners or to arrange ride into camp with the Aspire crew from Burlington WA. If we have sufficient demand from out of town runners we can provide an Aspire shuttle from SeaTac Airport.  

Course Overview

Friday, Day 1: Meet at Colonial Creek Campground

Runners are welcome to arrive at Colonial Creek anytime after 4pm. Aspire will host an evening meal and review the route, logistics, and gear  choices as runners make final preparations for the run.

Saturday, Day 2: Marathon, 9,500′ of Elevation Gain. 40 Miler, 9,500′ of Elevation Gain

Both the Marathon and 40 Miler routes begin with a shuttle from Colonial Creek campground to the Happy Panther trailhead. Within a mile the trail arrives at shores of Ross Lake where a boat taxi shuttles runners to the Base of Desolation Peak. Both routes climb and descend Desolation Peak and follow the East Bank Trail to Highway 20. This is the finish for the Marathon and an aid station for the 40 Miler. Marathoners are shuttled back to basecamp while the 40 Milers continue up the Panther Creek Trail, over 4th of July Pass, descend into the Thunder Creek drainage, and run along the shores of Diablo Lake directly into camp. Here Aspire will serve up appetizers, drinks, and a delicious evening meal. 

Sunday, Day 3: Breakfast and Depart

Given the variation and variables in how long it takes folks to finish a 40 mile mountain run we plan to spend Saturday night at basecamp. All runners are welcome to leave or stay and celebrate. We will break camp and depart for home Sunday mid-morning. 

Course Info Packet

For details about the trails, itinerary information, packing and gear lists, menu and dietary information, safety protocols, and trip policies please check out the 2018 Ross Lake Rally Course Info Packet. (This packet will be updated with new info for 2019 by January 1st. Until then it will serve as a solid planning reference). 


Early Bird Registration: $250. Ends December 31st

Regular Registration: $300. Ends March 31st 

Late Registration: $350. Closes June 10th 


Trip Insurance

Every year we have at least one runner who due to injury, illness, or personal/familial circumstances can not participate in their registered trip. While registrations can be transferred, Aspire does not issue refunds.  See our FAQ’s.  We strongly encourage each runner to purchase 3rd party trip insurance that will reimburse the cost of registration in the event that you are unable to participate in the event.