Also, on race day I assume the event starts near the parking lot at the fire lookout. What's the general route from there? Clockwise or counterclockwise?
As to when is safe... Check the SWAMP calendar. I been at CROOM in between hunting seasons when is okay to ride there. But I always see a hunter with gun at hand or hear gun shots. Just wear bright clothes and make a lot of noise. Expect most trail signs to be gone since hunters may have used them for target practice.
Croom 35/50: This doesn't change much from year to year. We start at parking lot #3 (by fire tower/ranger's house). Go south down Tucker Hill on yellow toward clay pits. (counterclockwise) Take red trail to clay pit. Stay on red over to blue (southern most along Forest Road 10). Follow blue to parking lot#1. Stay on blue going north to 12 mile bail out. Continue on blue west to sugar hill. When you come to red bail out between Forest roads 7 and 5, take red bail out to yellow loop. Go west on yellow and back to parking lot #3. (35 Miler)
For 50 miler, do not take the red bail out to yellow. Instead, stay on blue southeastern bound. Follow all the way until it intersects Croom Road. Go across Croom road on Blue all the way to the red trail by Forest Road 9 and 10. Take red trail north to green bail out to go back too Croom Road. Follow Croom road almost to parking lot #2. Take Yellow loop trail northwestern. Do all of yellow and finish to back up to Parking lot #3.