Aim high with annual Black Rock ascent

out blackrockTrail runners will scramble, scratch and claw their way to the 5,810-foot summit of Pinnacle Park in Sylva during the annual Assault on Black Rock trail run held Saturday, March 22.


The seven-mile up-and-back trail race has an elevation gain of 2,770 feet, featuring rocky roadbeds and single-track trail.

The race was created about four years ago by Brian Barwatt, who frequented the trail as a training course for mountaineering trips.

“I always thought it would be a tough course for a trail run, but wondered if anyone would actually want to do it. So I just decided to give it a shot,” said Barwatt.

Participation in the race is growing. The race has attracted about 65 participants in past years, but will top that this year based on record-breaking advanced registration.

Anyone who completes the course in 101 minutes — dubbed the Blackrock 101 Challenge — will be awarded a custom belt buckle.

Elizabeth Hammer, a Southwestern Community College student from Sylva, created the artwork for the official race T-shirt as part of a contest among students in SCC’s Advertising and Graphic Design Program. Designs were voted on by visitors to the Assault on Black Rock Facebook page and past race participants. 

Race proceeds benefit the Community Table, a soup kitchen and food pantry in Sylva.

The pre-registration fee is $25 or $30 on race day. Print out a registration form from or register at Race begins at 9 a.m. 

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