The Mule Trail is a bike-packing, adventure race in which participants complete the designated course across Costa Rica from south to north using a GPS device and a SPOT device to track their progress . Racers must be self-sufficient and cannot coordinate to receive support along the course.

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Mule trains and drivers

Mule trains and drivers

In 1601 during the Spanish colonization, a narrow commercial route, barely capable of handling horse and mule traffic, officially connected Costa Rica to Panama and the neighboring port of Portobelo in Colombia. Once completed, it became part of an important commercial artery all the way north to Mexico.

The Mule Trail Race loosely follows what is left of that trail and with some creative licenses uses mostly rustic, gravel and dirt roads, instead of portions of the original trail that evolved into major roadways during the development of Costa Rica as an independent nation. 


Three Distances

New for 2020, the race will have three different distance options: 630, 450 and 280 Kilometers.

Each distance will have a different start location but all will finish at the same place near the Nicaraguan border.



Dirt, gravel, mud, sand and some pavement connecting sections; are all part of The Mule Trail.

The Terraba river at the Las Vegas crossing

The Terraba river at the Las Vegas crossing

Beach section of the course near Dominical and the start of the 450K course

Beach section of the course near Dominical and the start of the 450K course

The 630KM course will tackle the full route from south to north, starting in the small border town of Cañas Gordas, which sits around 1,200 meters above sea level, on the lower slopes of the Talamanca mountain ridge. After about 180 grueling kilometers of steep mountain terrain, the trail reaches the beach.

The 450KM course will start at the beach town of Dominical. After a short ride on the beach, the course dives into the deep palm plantations and flats of the central pacific area, then venturing into the Carara National Forest.

The 280KM course starts in Orotina, as the trail continues northwest near the coast all the way to the sugar cane plantations in Puntarenas and later in Guanacaste. In Bagaces the course will veer North/Northeast and climb to the Continental Divide behind Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, before dropping down into the northern plains and rollers all the way to the Nicaraguan border. 

More information about The Course here →