About the Trail

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Protecting, preserving and maintaining the historic 100 mile Western States Trail is an ongoing effort that requires a small army of volunteers and donors.

The Tevis Cup Ride relies on the availability and good repair of the Western States Trail for it's very existence. The Ride is self-supporting and covers its expenses primarily via the entry fees. Click for larger versionGenerally, the Ride produces a net surplus of about $1,000. The entire amount each year is dedicated to WSTF Trail work. One way to contribute to preservation of the WS Trail, therefore, is to Ride the Ride!

The Trails Committee works year round, but especially in late Spring/early Summer before the Ride, to repair damage wrought by Winter weather or the effects of trail use. These volunteers also clear encroaching vegetation, such as blackberries, poison oak and manzanita. Each year there are special projects to improve or re-route sections of the trail that are considered unnecessarily difficult.

Trail work is usually done on Saturdays and Sundays, and is generally scheduled a few weeks in advance.

Giving your time in support of the WS Trail by joining in on a Trails Work Day is an extremely valuable way to help out...and it's FUN! It's good to call the announced work party leader ahead of time, but it is usually ok to just show up. Email for more information.

Trail Funding

FOWSTA (Friends Of the Western States Trail Alliance) raises the funds needed to cover the immediate costs of WS Trail repairs and improvements. FOWSTA sponsors a number of fundraising events during the year, Holiday Party in December, and the WSTF/WSTEF Reception at the AERC convention when in Reno‏.

You can make a direct contribution to support of the WS Trail by joining FOWSTA. Your membership donation will place you on the mailing list to receive a your copy of The Tevis Forum, an annual publication full of WS Trail information, history and tips about doing the Tevis Cup Ride that you will want to read cover to cover.

Trail Endowment

The Adopt-the-Trail Campaign is an effort to raise a half-million dollars as a permanent endowment for the Western States Trail. Donations are based on $1 per foot of the 100 mile trail. Donations are placed into a dedicated investment fund where the principal is protected. Once this Endowment Fund grows to $500,000, interest and dividends will be made available for WS Trail purposes.

A full mile ($5,280) or half mile ($2,640) can be donated. Sections of a half-mile or more can be named by the donor, and the location of the adopted section can be chosen from those not yet adopted.Quarter-mile sections of the trail can also be selected and adopted for $1,320 and are recorded under the name of the donor.Sections of a Quarter-mile or more can be paid in annual payments spread over five years.Individual donations of at least $25, but less than a quarter mile, are very welcome and are grouped into the "World Wide Mile." Use the printable (.pdf) Pledge Form to adopt your piece of the Western States Trail!

Save on Taxes. WSTF is a qualified Charitable Organization. Your FOWSTA and Adopt-the-Trail donations may qualify as a deduction for tax purposes. You should consult with your tax advisor for complete information. The WSTF Office will provide a donation receipt for your records.

Trail Description

The Tevis Cup Ride follows a rugged portion of the Western States Trail which stretches from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Sacramento, California.

Beginning at the Robie Equestrian Park (elevation 7,000 feet), south of Truckee, California, the trail descends gradually approximately nine miles to the Truckee River at the Midway Crossing on Highway 89. The trail takes a route through Squaw Valley, the U.S. Olympic training facility and site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and ascends from the valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass near Watson's Monument (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in 4½ miles. From the pass, following the trail once used by gold and silver miners during the 1850s and rediscovered by Robert Montgomery Watson in 1929, riders will travel west, ascending another 15,540 feet and descending approximately 22,970 feet before reaching the century-old town of Auburn via the traditional route through Robinson Flat, Last Chance, Deadwood, Michigan Bluff, Foresthill, and Francisco's.

Much of this historic route passes along narrow mountain trails through remote and rugged wilderness territory. Participants who are unfamiliar with this area should use caution when planning training rides with their mounts, especially in the high country and the route out of Foresthill to Francisco's. MUCH OF THIS TERRITORY IS ACCESSIBLE ONLY ON FOOT, ON HORSEBACK, OR BY HELICOPTER. Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the trail, the Tevis Cup Ride differs substantially from other organized endurance riding events. Adequate physical training and preparation for both horse and rider are of the utmost importance. The mountains, although beautiful, are relentless in their challenge and unforgiving to the ill-prepared.

Trail Riding Recommendations

  1. Participants should make every reasonable effort to travel by horseback over as much of the trail as possible before the day of the event. Particular attention should be given to those sections which you expect to ride in the dark, when the mental and physical energy of you and your horse may be lagging. As much as a fourth of the trail may be traveled at night and each rider may wish to carry small items of necessity as a result. Since temperatures during event day can range from about 40F to 120F (5C to 50C), participants should be fully prepared for both extremes. Mountain weather conditions can change rapidly and unpredictably. Although rain is unlikely it is not impossible. Accordingly, be sure to have adequate clothing at all times and keep you and your mount well-nourished and hydrated at all times.
  2. On event day, the river ford near Poverty Bar will be lower than usual, due to a special retention of the flow by the Placer County Water Agency at Ox Bow Dam several miles above the crossing.
  3. The trail will be marked with a limited amount of yellow surveyor's tape and "glow-sticks" tied to tree branches, "WS TRAIL" signs attached to posts, and arrows drawn with chalk along the ground. Permanent trail signing has been coordinated with the Forest Service and State Park officials. Ride Management will do its best to provide an adequately marked trail, but it is necessary for entrants to continually keep alert as they travel. Although trail marking efforts continue until the day of the ride, with 100 miles of trail to mark, Ride Management has to contend with markings of logging companies, other events, ecology minded individuals who remove marking flags, and nature itself. For these reasons, a working knowledge of the trail will be of infinite benefit to the rider who attempts the Tevis Cup Ride.
  4. If you have to drop out of the ride at a point where your crew is unavailable, we will make every reasonable effort to contact your crew or get you to the finish or the nearest major checkpoint that is still in operation, particularly if you or your mount are in need of medical or veterinary attention. In non-emergency situations, you may have a considerable wait before being evacuated, as our volunteer resources, which are considerable, are usually stretched thin during the ride. Please be patient.
  5. While riding along the trail, please be courteous to hikers, runners, other horsemen, and any off-road vehicles that you may encounter. Collision on these narrow trails may be disastrous! Always ride "in control" and slow down when reaching a blind corner, perhaps calling ahead to alert other travelers to your presence. Equines may be spooked by the sudden appearance of a mountain bike rider or runner, with serious consequences to the rider and/or their mount. In the interest of both safety and courtesy, it is wise to move off the trail to let an oncoming rider, biker or runner pass. If possible, stay on the uphill side of the trail when passing or being passed in case your mount spooks. That way you lessen the chance of falling off the trail. No rider should pass another rider from behind without first notifying them by calling out. Courtesy and care should also be extended to runners, bicyclists or hikers when approaching or passing them on the trail. Remember, they have a right to be there, too.
  6. The remoteness of the trail can be overpowering to anyone not experienced in the "backwoods." For your own well-being and survival, we recommend that you do not attempt a training ride without letting someone know exactly where you are going. Check with the WSTF office at (530) 823-7282 to see if the trail is open and marked. Although some of the trail markers remain from year to year, marking will not be complete until a few days prior to the ride. We strongly advise entrants who are unfamiliar with the area to ride with a local resident who can serve as a guide. It is also important that ample fluids and food supplies be carried along on training rides as well as during the ride. There are some dry stretches of trail as long as 16 miles.
  7. Perhaps the one thing that stands out most in the memories of the riders who participate in the Tevis Cup Ride is the incredible efforts of the volunteers who work the checkpoints. Many spend more hours out on the trail than do the riders themselves. Please be polite and thank them for their assistance. Without the generous assistance of these uncompensated helpers on event day, there would not be a Tevis Cup Ride.

Trail Checkpoints

The Tevis Cup Ride is made possible by the volunteer efforts of nearly 600 individuals. The Ride Officials at each checkpoint have many years of service at the Tevis Cup Ride and are professional in their responsibilities. Remember, these individuals are volunteers and many of them will be at their checkpoints for over 24 hours. Therefore, a thank you from each rider goes a long way to help make their day.

Most of the checkpoints are stocked with water and feed for horses and a variety of foods and beverages for the rider. The expert veterinary staff of doctors has many years of service and experience at the Tevis Cup Ride, providing the very best veterinary care available in the sport of modern day endurance riding. Over the years supervising the condition and humane use of the horses during the event, the Veterinary Examining committee has accumulated much scientific data which has proved valuable to the veterinary profession, especially in the contributions towards advancing medical and veterinary research. We wish to publicly acknowledge the dedicated services which these leaders in veterinary sports medicine have devoted to this event.

Veterinary criteria such as required pulse and respiration recovery rates will be announced at the pre-ride meeting on Friday.

Environmental Considerations

From the high mountain divide at Watson's Monument to Hodgson's Cabin is an area that the United States Congress has set aside as wilderness - the Granite Chief Wilderness area. This special area, established by the California Wilderness Act of September 1984, is managed to offer solitude in a pristine and natural setting. Protection of this ecologically sensitive area is of prime importance to all who participate in the annual Tevis ride. Permission to cross the Granite Chief Wilderness Area is granted through a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. In return, they receive important usage data upon which to base management decisions regarding use of the area. This cooperative arrangement between Western States Trail Foundation and the U. S. Forest Service insures that the Tevis event will continue to qualify as an acceptable activity in the Granite Chief Wilderness Area for future years.

Some general rules of conduct for riders and support crews should be kept in mind at all times when using the Granite Chief Wilderness Area. They include:

  • Leave no trace of your visit. That is, do not leave behind any litter or refuse. It is every rider's responsibility to keep the trail as clean as it was found. Disturb nothing.
  • Stay on the trail. Let other riders pass at wide spots on the trail if at all possible. In this way, you will be minimizing your impact on the fragile ecosystem of the area.
  • Be as quiet as possible. Noise also destroys the serenity of the area and should be kept to an absolute minimum.
  • No smoking. Absolutely no fires are permitted in the Granite Chief Wilderness Area.By following these simple guidelines, we can all do our part to preserve this special place on the Western States Trail for future generations.

We extend our sincere appreciation... to the representatives of the Tahoe National Forest, the Auburn State Recreation Area of the California State Department of Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for allowing us continued use and management of the Western States Trail, as well as for their maintenance work on these trails. Any facility use within the Tahoe National Forest or Auburn State Park is operated on a non-discriminatory basis.