Big Laurel Grind
Starting at Mars Hill University, the first 10 miles is a series of warm-up hills through the rolling country of southern Madison County. Turn at Walnut Creek Road and head into the mountains. Starting with a moderate grade, the 5 mile Walnut Mountain climb turns sharply steeper for the second half of this 1,000 foot ascent.
The top of this ascent is a spectacular view of the Big Laurel valley and a great spot to enjoy the scenery.
Hold on tight! The next section of the course descends rapidly – 1,000 feet in just over 2 miles. The course hugs the banks of the babbling Big Laurel River for 10 miles – all ‘gently’ uphill. After following the Big Laurel River, the climb continues for almost another 3 miles to the top of Murray Mountain – a total rise of about 1,400 ft over the 13 miles since leaving the top of Walnut Mountain.