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Southern Colorado Trails
There are few places I enjoy running more than Colorado. Having grown up in the Midwest, the sweeping mountain views and never-ending trails are an absolute luxury. Over the years, I’ve traversed much of the state and found some great running spots. Below is a sample of what southern Colorado, in particular, has to offer.
Breckenridge is known for skiing, and that’s a shame because it really has a lot more to offer. The town itself has a wonderful bike trail that goes to the nearby town of Frisco. It’s ideal for an easy, relatively flat run. If you want a taste of the Colorado elevation though, head up one of the many ski slopes and side trails that wind their way behind the Breckenridge Resort. You’ll find stream crossings, log bridges and rocky ascents—a trail runner’s dream! While you’re enjoying the scenery, don’t forget to take caution: Bears love those trails just as much as runners.
The town of Crested Butte claims to be the U.S. birthplace of mountain biking. While I’m not inclined to take my uncoordinated body mountain biking, I am thankful for its prominence in Crested Butte, because it’s led to the creation of a lot of trails. Running around the town itself is a must, as it has many neighborhoods and parks to explore. There are a few trails (including a paved path) that are accessible from Mount Crested Butte, but equally enticing are the ski slopes that remain largely untouched in the summertime. I found myself surprised by how much I loved exploring the slopes, winding around the mountain, in and out of the trees. One thing’s for sure: You won’t run out of trail options if you visit Crested Butte.
Many people visit Silverton via the Durango and Silverton Railroad, but the railway is only one of the many routes that crisscross the land near Silverton. The town is home to The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run (also known as The Hardrock 100), a famed ultramarathon that demands 33,050 feet of climbing and more than 100.5 miles. While I haven’t run The Hardrock 100, I have run many Silverton trails, some of which are on The Hardrock 100 course. Are you up for a challenge? The nearby Handies Peak is not only a fourteener—meaning, it is more than 14,000-feet tall—it’s also the first mountain up. Handies Peak is not for the faint of heart, but it is a pulse-pounding way to get in a solid workout. Anticipate spending at least an hour ascending its rocky, 2.7-mile trail to the summit. For a more modest run, try the Ice Lakes Basin Trail. It’s certainly not easy, but at 8 miles and 3,093 feet in elevation gain, it’s gentler than Handies. Plus, you’ll be rewarded for your effort with some incredible views of the ice lakes.
Can’t pick one destination? Go to all three. While you’re at it, find another little town to explore. The state of Colorado is a showcase for nature, and it’s likely that wherever you end up, there will be a trail to run and a mountain to climb.