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Enchanted Forest Trail at Apex Park in Golden. Photo by Sarah Banks
The Beginner’s Guide to Trail Running in Colorado

The Best Trail Running Routes in Golden

Head over to Golden to cruise atop a mesa, dash through a forest of fairy-tale pines, or test your trail running skills on a route with rocky outcroppings.

Easy: North Table Loop to Mesa Top Trail

North Table Mountain
Length: 5.6 miles, round-trip loop
Vertical gain: 736 feet
To avoid the crowds of North Table Mountain’s west trailhead, start at the east entrance. (Parking is limited off Easley Road, but you can find spots at the Tony Grampsas Memorial Sports Complex.) From there, Lithic Trail connects to North Table, a loop that extends 7.4 miles. To shave almost two miles off, go counterclockwise on North Table until you hit Mesa Top, which bisects the circle with a long, leg-burning hill. On the descent, look for a small, seasonal waterfall—an oasis in the high desert landscape.

Moderate: Enchanted Forest Trail

Apex Park
Length: 2.8 miles, out and back
Vertical gain: 486 feet
Since September 2020, Enchanted Forest (and 1.3-mile Magic Mountain Trail) have belonged to trail runners on odd dates and bikers on even dates. While it may look easy, there’s more to this story: Reaching the happy ending of Enchanted Forest from Apex’s east trailhead, via Magic Mountain, requires an immense climb over a short span. The west trailhead connects directly to Enchanted’s fairy-tale pines and dives downhill—but, of course, you have to retrace your steps up a steep incline to go home.

Challenging: Cedar Gulch Trail to Mount Galbraith Loop

Mount Galbraith Park
Length: 4.2 miles, round-trip loop
Vertical gain: 928 feet
An important lesson to learn about trail running: Some of the most beautiful vantage points are the hardest to reach. This loop climbs fewer than 1,000 feet, but it feels like more because of the highly technical path, whose rocky outcroppings you’ll need to maneuver around. From the east side of the mountain, you can see Golden and North Table Mountain; from the west, dramatic foothills unfurl. Between them, gold, white, red, and blue wildflowers float on the greenery.

Note: We verified the mileages and vertical gains with land managers when possible, but these figures can vary based on where you access each trail. Research your specific intended route ahead of time; trailrunproject.com and alltrails.com are good resources.

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