Summer—and the sun—are both finally here! Take this as a sign to get outside and hit the trail running. Whether you’re just getting started or are practically a pro, Coloradans are lucky to have a variety of choices on which to log some miles (and many are just a short drive from Denver). Here are a few of our favorites that you can try now:
Mount Falcon West Loop, Mount Falcon Park
This loop, located in Indian Hills, features a steep uphill climb and great views from an old fire tower near the top. From the western parking lot start up the Castle Trail, then turn right onto the Meadow Trail. Near the junction with the Tower Trail, turn onto the Parmalee Trail and follow it 2 miles back to the parking lot. Longer runs are easily pieced together here. Try continuing on Castle Trail or passing over Old Ute to Devil’s Elbow (and back again).
Distance: 3.6 miles
Elevation gain: 650 feet
Start: Western parking lot, Mount Falcon Park
Mesa Trail, Boulder Open Space
This is already a Hike We Like, but with its steady climbs, varying terrain, breathtaking views of the Flatirons to the west, and water available at the northern (Chautauqua) end, the Mesa Trail makes for an ideal trail run. If you pre-arrange a shuttle, you can run it one way, or turn around whenever you wish.
Distance: 7.3 miles, one way
Elevation gain: 1,600 feet, one way
Start: Eldorado Springs Drive (South Mesa) trailhead
Centennial Cone Loop, Centennial Cone Park
Thanks to the scenery, the proximity to Golden, and the alternating-use schedule on the weekends, this loop is very popular with hikers and trail runners on the odd-numbered days. From the western trailhead follow the Elk Range Trail, then the Travois Trail, for a rolling 12.1 miles. If that’s not enough, start instead at the Mayhem Gulch trailhead for a 16.7-mile (and substantially more vertical) loop or a shorter out-and-back.
Distance: 12 miles
Elevation gain: 2,000 feet
Start: Centennial Cone Road trailhead on Highway 119
Sourdough Trail, Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest
This long, one-way singletrack trail is nestled between the Indian Peaks Wilderness and the Peak to Peak Highway. With lush forest, great views, and multiple access points between the northern trailhead at Peaceful Valley/Camp Dick and the southern trailhead at the CU Research Station Road, the Sourdough makes a great high-altitude training run—if you can hack it.
Distance: 14.6 miles one way
Elevation gain: 2,350 feet one way (north to south)
Start: Peaceful Valley / Camp Dick
The Barr Trail, Pikes Peak
If you’re in great shape and ready for a challenge, it’s time to try the ultimate Colorado run. The Barr Trail, blazed in the 1930s by Fred Barr, averages an 11 percent grade from the trailhead at 6,300 feet in Manitou Springs to the lofty (and cold and windy) 14,050-foot summit of Pikes Peak. Be prepared.
Difficulty: Very Difficult
Distance: 11.8 miles
Elevation gain: 7,900 feet
Start: Manitou Springs, just beyond the cog railway depot