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Any seasoned trail runner will agree that rain, mud, and snow aren’t good reasons to skimp on an outdoor running routine. Strap on a pair of hearty hiking shoes (or Yaktrax, if it’s icy) and test out winter trails at these four locations—all just outside Denver.
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Consider Green Mountain your friendly neighborhood mountain. A variety of trails are carved in, around, over and through the hill. Novices should check out the Green Mountain Trail, which meanders around the base of the mountain with little climbing and spectacular views of the foothills and Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Those searching for steeper climbs should consider tackling Hayden Trail or Rooney Valley Trail (accessible from the Rooney Road parking lot), both of which snake their way up to the top of Green Mountain, an elevation of about 6,770 feet. From the top, the Summit Loop Trail offers even better views of the foothills and, if you squint, Denver’s skyline.
This 2,600-acre park has two lakes, a reservoir, and various multi-purpose trails. The Mount Carbon Loop, a single-track trail, winds its way through most of the park. The trail is forested at points and travels close to Bear Creek for a segment. It runs alongside Mount Carbon, at an elevation of 5,779 feet, and loops around the Mount Carbon Dam. The trail is relatively flat, with a few challenging climbs thrown in.
Intersecting this loop right by Mount Carbon is the Bear Creek Lake Trail, which runs along the perimeter and eventually leads out of the park. Getting familiar with the park’s trails is excellent practice for the Lakewood Trail Running Series, happening at Bear Creek Lake starting in September.
From paved walkways to single-track dirt trails, Cherry Creek State Park has it all. Those who prefer a well-maintained course should stick to the Cherry Creek Trail, a paved path that winds through the park and eventually connects with the Pipeline Trail and Colorado Front Range Trail.
But, for the true trail-running experience, explore the Prairie Nature Loop just off the Cherry Creek Trail. The runners-only gravel path has a few trail split-offs onto single-track, wild grass-lined trails that cut back into the trees lining Cherry Creek Reservoir. These split-offs run into the Wetland Loop Trail junction. Other honorable mentions include the Railroad Bed Trail and 12 Mile Trail—excellent options for longer runs.
Located next to the soon-to-be-closed Heritage Square complex, Apex Park’s trails plunge through forests and offer excellent views of Denver’s skyline to the east and the foothills to the west. From the parking lot (located at the northeast corner of the Heritage Square shopping center), jump on Apex Trail, which climbs steadily to a junction with the Pick ‘N’ Sledge Trail. Turn right here and continue through the switchbacks to climb up to the junction with Grubstake Loop. The trail levels out once on the Grubstake Loop then goes down through forested trail before climbing back up. Connect with the Pick ‘N’ Sledge and follow this path back down to Apex Trail.