Welcome Wagon

posted Jan 1, 2018, 9:07 PM by Pete Carleson   [ updated Sep 21, 2018, 8:02 AM ]

Resources for new arrivals.

For Portland area trail runners, new participants, and visitors.

Group Runs

Weekly trail runs, year round. Meet other local trail runners. Bring a headlamp when running after sunset.

Tuesday 6 pm meet Location Thurman Gate on Leif Erikson Dr. Trail Factor 6 miles and 8 miles

Tuesday 6 pm meet Location Skyline Tavern STP Excursions distance varies

Tuesday 6:30 pm meet Forest Park or Waterfront location and distance vary. PDX Trail Runners

Thursday 5:45 am at the top of the Wild Cherry/Dogwood trails, off 53rd Dr Trail Factor. 4 miles

Thursday 6 pm meet, Location Varies Wy'East Wolfpack

Saturday 7:15 am and 9 am meet Forest Park location and distance vary. PDX Trail Runners


Trail Race Organizers

Event Calendars

Facebook Groups

Where to trail run on trails >10 miles

Locations with more than ~10 miles of continuous trail within an hour of driving.
City of Portland: Forest Park, Tryon Creek Park
Columbia River Gorge - (2017-2018 limited due to Eagle Creek Fire of 2017)

Creating the Navigation Files

posted Nov 30, 2017, 9:48 PM by Pete Carleson   [ updated Nov 30, 2017, 9:57 PM ]

(Created as reply in a Fenix 3 Garmin Forum for the software CourseTCX2FIT)
Add me to the list of happy users of this CourseTCX2FIT!! I really like to place my own coursepoints for trail runs, which don't lend themselves well to auto-detection of turns. I use coursepoints to mark turns, straights, and even geo-placed reminders for food and water. This sw was the missing piece to take the courses with turns marked in Garmin Training Center and generate the FIT files. TCX files worked ok but they are much larger so slower to transfer, store, and email. On my 310xt a TCX can take 10 minutes and the same course in FIT is just 10's of seconds. Overall I like to have the route in the watch for intricate courses and have the coursepoints to help minimize the risk of getting off route. Also, for long runs the total distance added up by GPS is always off, but I can relay on the display of distance remaining on the course to be good. In case anyone is interested, here's my workflow.

1. Sketch out the course in Mapsource using OpenStreetMap routable maps from, or Complete list of OpenStreetMap sourced Garmin format map files is here: but the main sites I use is because the data is reasonable refresh rate and easy for me to install. I believe Basecamp can also make the routes. I then add Waypoints where I want Coursepoints to show up then re-route the course making sure to hit those waypoints. Delete the original sketched out route, save as GDB file. You could also use any other mapping site (strava, mapmyrun, caltopo) that can export as GPX.

2. Convert GDB/GPX to GPX with elevation profile using JavawaRTW Tool Export Routes to Tracks and add Elevation Data; For Waypoints, export as Waypoints and add Elevation Data. (If you don't want the elevation data, such as for a flat run, then just convert the GDB to FIT (or TCX) as described in Step 3.)

3. Convert GPX to FIT (or TCX) with JavawaRTW Tool; this time Export Tracks as Courses and Waypoints as Coursepoints. (You can have it calculate turns and add coursepoints to the track for these but for trail runs with curvy routes it falsely detects a lot of turns).

4. Mark the FIT file with turn marked Coursepoints in Garmin Training Center: Import the FIT file, edit the properties of each coursepoint to the type you want (left, right, straight, summit, water, valley, etc). This step can also be done in a text editor on a TCX file if you are careful, you replace the tag value "Generic" with the type you want instead (left, right...).

5. Export the course as a TCX from Garmin Training Center   (-or-  if you have ANT+ watch and setup you could Send to Watch from here and be done).

6. Use CourseTCX2FIT with pace goal to convert to FIT (

7. Transfer to Garmin Watch; Windows Start button, type %appdata% hit enter. Navigate through Garmin folders until you find the NewFiles folder for your device, click-drag to COPY the file into the NewFiles folder. Plug in the Ant+ stick, turn on watch and it transfers. For Wifi watches I think you just turn on the watch and it syncs. After transferring the FIT file it is moved the Courses folder and is renamed with the date. I'm on Win7 and it is my understanding there is some variation of where this folder is placed but it is worth finding.

8. Go to the watch, go to the course, then view the profile and map to make sure it's all there.

9. When you are ready to run it, go the course on the watch, then select the "Do Course", press Start when you start running. The watch should have a presetup display that tells you the next Coursepoint name, icon for the coursepoint type, how far way it is, how long it will take to get there, distance to the finish, and countdown clock for how long what your goal pace is over the distance. When you get to CoursePoints then the watch will beep/vibrate and flash the icon for that Coursepoint and the label text. Note that there is some support for having this pop up before the coursepoint but I haven't figured out how to do it with these tools, some sometimes I'll just place the Coursepoint slightly ahead of the turn.

That's all there is too it! It's such a shame that this is so intricate to follow for such simple request. It drives me batty that Garmin Connect mapping, or any other online mapping tool (that I know of) will support placing CoursePoints or use up-to-date OpenStreetMap routing data. 

Many but not all Garmin watches support such navigation. To find out for sure refer to the spec table for your watch from DC Rainmakers product tool. Simply select your watch (or one you are looking at getting), hit the Product Compare! button. Scroll down looking for the "Navigate" section then look for the feature "FOLLOW GPS TRACK (COURSES/WAYPOINTS)". If it says "Yes" then you are in business.

I used to use WinGDB for steps 2 and 3 but liked to be able to see the elevation profile in the data that JavawaRTW provides. WinGDB is from There are some simple features (such as saving a FIT file wit elevation instead of having to save as GPX first) it would be nice to add to JavawaRTW but it is no longer in development. Gpx2crs is handy utility to automatically make coursepoints for summits and valleys when you have elevation data already in your gpx, still available from the Wayback machine, You can then use Javawa to load the CRS in step 3 converting to FIT.

Using Navigation Files

posted Nov 3, 2017, 1:24 AM by Pete Carleson

The navigation files provided on this website are to help me guide groups on the routes and not get lost and provide situational awareness. You might find them useful too. 

Does My Watch Support Navigation?

Many GPS watches support using navigation files but most do not. In general the Garmin triathlon (XT) and trail running watches (Fenix) do and also Suunto's. To find out for sure refer to the spec table for your watch from DC Rainmakers product tool. Simple select your watch (or one you are looking at getting), hit the Product Compare! button. Scroll down looking for the "Navigate" section then look for the feature "FOLLOW GPS TRACK (COURSES/WAYPOINTS)". If it says "Yes" then you are in business. A nice thing about the watch based navigation, at least on Garmin, is that it will alert you to turns as I have programmed these files to have CoursePoints for the turns. For Garmin watches you will probably want to use the FIT file, for Suunto watches the GPX file.

Does My Phone/App Support Navigation?

Let's just start with Yes. There are a plethora of apps out there that will load the GPX file and display it on maps. The best maps in the area of these files are the OpenStreetMaps (OSM) files, I have found them to have the most accurate and up-to-date trails since users can update them directly. AllTrails and EveryTrail are apps available on Android and iOS that support loading GPX file and displaying your position on a map along with the track. Although Strava has some course following capabilities, currently their mapping and course technology is missing routing data to accurately make courses to follow, at least the Nasty series. The main drawbacks to the phone app strategy is that it won't notify you of turns and running the GPS powered on continuously seriously degrades battery life, depending on the adventure you have chosen. You'll likely make it through a Nasty on a full charge, but not a run around a volcano (except Mt. Tabor).


Transfer Course File

This procedure on Windows works for wifi and Ant+ based watches that support navigation files, and has been tested with 310xt and 920xt.
1. Save the FIT file on your computer where you can find it.
2. Hit the Start Button, in the search box enter %appdata%
3. Click through folders for Roaming, Garmin, and Devices
4. Open the folder for the device you want to use, the folder numbers are serial numbers, so higher numbers are later devices.
5. Open the folder NewFiles. 
6. Copy the FIT file into the NewFiles folder. Your watch should synchronize it.

Run The Course

1. Turn on your watch
2. Get to the main menu
3. Training > Courses >
4. Use the up/down arrows to select the desired course name and hit Enter
5. Use the up/down arrows to select Do Course and hit Enter
6. When you get start running, hit the Start button
7. While running a course there are several custom displays that are only available while navigating. One of them is a panel that shows you how far to the next course point and it's name. When you get there the watch will alert you and momentarily display the direction to turn and maybe some text.
8. When you are done running hit the Stop button.


Transfer Course File

1. Save the GPX file on your computer where you can find it.
2. There are several ways to get it to your phone. In each case when you open it on your phone note where you save it.
  • Email it to yourself as an attachment
  • Put it on a cloud file server (Box, DropBox, OneDrive...) then open in the cloud phone app
  • Use USB cable and File Explorer to transfer the file

Use the file in the App

Open the app then look file a menu with GPX tracks. More on this later.

Adventure Run Safety Talk

posted Sep 22, 2017, 12:09 AM by Pete Carleson

Before setting out with a group on a gnarly trail run I go through the following short safety talk, short enough that I can fit it in before we take off but gets everyone on the same page.
Our zeroth rule is that this is supposed to be fun. So if it stops being fun, change something up so that it's fun. 

Safety Rules
  • First rule is SAFETY FIRST. We all want to come back from this so don't endanger yourself or others. 
  • Second rule is TEAMWORK. work together, don't leave anyone alone. share if needed. 
  • Third rule is STAY OUT OF THE NEWS. We do not want to be the trail runners that make the news - unless of course following rules 1 and 2  means ending up on the news so be it, but otherwise, we don't want to be on the 11 o'clock news.
Operational Rules
  • For the most part we'll run together. If you have to momentarily leave the group, such as bathroom stop or just done filling your water bottles and want to go on, then make sure you tell as many people as possible so the rest of us know where you are. 
  • At every trail intersection, stop and regroup if folks have spread out. We don't want to leave anyone behind. For big groups we might have a rule at intersection/turns that you wait for the next person, then they wait for the next one, and so on.
  • Watch out for the person behind you, if you suddenly sense a gap turn around to figure out what happened. 

Cabin Fever trail antidotes

posted Mar 9, 2017, 9:35 AM by Pete Carleson

The feeling of cabin fever has set in among Portland area trail runners as the sweet hill climbing trails of the gorge, Cascade Mountains, and Tillamook Forest lay under snow or choked with winter blowdown. Many are already tired of Forest Park, but there are some antidotes right here in River City. There are a series of routes handed down from legendary trail runners that exploit the nasty climbs available in Forest Park. The so-called "North Nasty" is perhaps the most famous, but there are a total of four in the original series but their routes have been hard to find. One website named all four routes but you had to show up at some long-ago event to get routes. Three of the routes I was able to find on Strava, for the fourth I tracked down a long time trail runner in these parts that had a hand drawn map of the Flaming Nasty - thus completing the collection. So although the North Nasty has quite a following (based on hundreds of attempts in Strava), the South, Alphabet and Flaming have had less than a 10 attempts as of March 2017. If you are looking for a fresh challenging route, check out one of these routes. Be prepared, these are ridiculously nasty and don't let the relative security of nearby Forest Park suck you into a false sense of calm and easy. And please, watch out for cars if you go on one of the road sections - that's a hazard trail runners are not especially adept at heeding.
The Alphabet Nasty is currently officially closed due to Lower Macleay and Wildwood Trail closures,

In Defense of Wildwood Trail

posted Jan 6, 2017, 2:10 PM by Pete Carleson

By Marta Fisher;
The beauty of Wildwood lies precisely in it's lack of stunning views. Wildwood's charm is the more meditative slip and roll of trail between foggy, mossy trees. Wildwood is like your favorite pair of jeans, as compared to the flashy, party clothes of the trails along the Columbia River Gorge or around Mt. Hood. Once you live around here, the danger becomes that you fall into Wildwood's familiar comfort a little too easily and forget to reach into the back of the closet for that fancier stuff. In the goal that all of us go out more, we need a range places to do it. Both big expansive wildernesses that we can form our dreams and goals around and the little neighborhood routes that start out the front door. Wildwood falls at an underpopulated spot between proximity and wildness and I wish more cities had their own version of it. Wildwood is not the first trail I would recommend to a wilderness-loving visitor. But if I ever move away from the Portland area, it will be the old friend which I am delighted to revisit every time I come back for a day or two.

It Begins

posted Nov 16, 2016, 9:58 PM by Pete Carleson   [ updated Nov 17, 2016, 6:15 AM ]

The intention is to restore the informational content from the old Volcanorunning website, then continue to add other runs good for training for Volcano Runs around the Pacific Northwest.
Last Internet Archive of the Scott Diamond site,

1-7 of 7