If you’re looking for a great outdoor adventure, Colorado is the place to be. From scenic views to challenging terrains, the state boasts some of the best running trails in the country. Here are some of the top trails to try out on your next run.
Crag Crest Trail, Grand Junction. For a different kind of hike, try the Crag Crest National Recreation Trail in the Grand Mesa National Forest. This 10.3-mile loop takes you through deep pine forests and past some of the 300 lakes on the world’s largest flat-topped mountain. The views of the surrounding landscape are unparalleled.
Imogene Pass, Telluride-Ouray. Connecting the charming mountain towns of Telluride and Ouray is the Imogene Pass, a 17-mile dirt road that reaches an elevation of 13,114 feet. The Imogene Pass Run from Ouray to Telluride, held every April, is a popular training run for the Pike’s Peak Marathon. If you’re not up for the run, simply driving the pass offers incredible views above the treeline.
Four Pass Loop, Aspen. The Four Pass Loop in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is a 26.4-mile hike that can take anywhere from three to four days to complete. You’ll hike over four 12,000-foot passes, with breathtaking views of the Maroon Bells, waterfalls, and wildflower-rimmed mountain lakes along the way. Most hikers start the loop at Maroon Lake and do it clockwise for the best views.
Buchanan Pass, Ward. Starting at the Camp Dick Campground near Ward, the Buchanan Pass Trail is a 9-mile hike that takes you along Middle St. Vrain Creek and up to Buchanan Pass on the Continental Divide. Along the way, you’ll see Timberline Falls and cross a dicey footbridge to Coney Flats, where you might spot a moose. The views of Sawtooth Mountain and the Indian Peaks are unforgettable.
Pawnee Pass Trail, Nederland. For those who love a challenge, the Pawnee Pass Trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is a must-do. This 9-mile hike takes you from the Brainard Lake Recreation Area up to Pawnee Peak, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Indian Peaks and Wild Basin Area of Rocky Mountain National Park. Keep hiking west to reach the Continental Divide and Pawnee Lake. This trail is difficult, but the scenery is worth it.
Mount Falcon, Morrison. Located just 40 minutes west of downtown Denver is Mount Falcon Park near Morrison. The park offers many trails with fantastic views of the Front Range, Red Rocks Amphitheater, and Denver proper. The trails range from flat and wide to more strenuous ascents. You can combine trails for runs of three to nearly eight miles. The park includes the remains of the home of John Brisben Walker, who developed the Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Argentine Pass out of Peru Creek/Horseshoe Basin, Montezuma. If you’re looking for high-altitude adventures, Argentine Pass is the trail for you. The trailhead for Argentine Pass (13,207 feet) is at the end of the easy 4×4 Peru Creek Road near Montezuma in Summit County. The pass follows the crest of the Front Range of the Rockies and crosses the Continental Divide. The distance to the ridge on the Horseshoe Basin side is 2.6 steep miles with a climb of 2,000 feet. The trail is rocky but in good shape, making it perfect for high-altitude adventures.
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Mesa Trail in Boulder. One of the most popular trails in Boulder is the Mesa Trail. This 12-mile out-and-back trail runs along the foothills of Boulder, from Chautauqua Park at the north end to Eldorado Canyon Road to the south. With 3,250 feet of climbing and a peak elevation of 6,465 feet, the trail offers a challenging workout. Most of the middle miles of the trail cut through old-growth forest, providing shade, while a mile or two on both ends are exposed, so make sure to slather on sunscreen. The trail also offers fantastic views of the city below and rocky outcroppings.
Lost Man Loop, Leadville. The Lost Man Loop connects two trailheads along Highway 82 close to Independence Pass. The Lower Lost Man Loop starts in the woods before it climbs and opens up into a stunning alpine meadow valley. The high ridges in every direction offer breathtaking views. Aim to reach Upper Lost Man Lake to see Geissler Mountain, Twining Peak, and the surrounding summits.
Turquoise Lake, Leadville. The Turquoise Lake Nature Trail just outside Leadville offers a 12-mile out-and-back trail that hugs the shoreline of the calm lake. With several 14ers as a backdrop and a location 10,000 feet above sea level, the trail remains challenging. The epic feel of the trail intensifies with the knowledge that the storied Leadville 100 ultramarathon course uses this path twice.
Colorado is a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts, particularly those interested in running trails. The state boasts a variety of challenging and scenic routes, including the popular Mesa Trail in Boulder, Mount Falcon Park near Morrison, and the Turquoise Lake Nature Trail just outside of Leadville. These trails offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and cities, making them a must-visit for anyone looking for an unforgettable outdoor adventure in Colorado.
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