As the cold rush of winter finally subsides, many Coloradans will be looking to get out of the house and into the abundant outdoor beauty our state provides. A very popular pastime among those looking to get some exercise and enjoy the warmer weather is running. One looking to get into the sport or new to the Denver area has access to one of the best cities in America for scenic runs.
The sprawling picturesque landscape to the Northwest of the Denver area provides incredible trails for those looking for a more rugged and mountainous run. There also is an excellent system of city running paths and parks that dot the North Denver urban areas that are easily accessed from Denver neighborhoods.
This substantial variety makes Denver and the North Denver communities such a unique place for runners. The access to world class trails only half an hour away from the neighborhoods that dot North Denver gives those looking to jog, run, or just take a walk an endless array of paths to choose from. You can get steep uphill climbs or you can go for a more relaxing jog around a lakeside park.
“Denver is great partly because there are miles of runnable bike paths like Platte River and Cherry Creek,” said Philip Snyder, shop manager of Berkeley Park Running Company in Wheat Ridge. “We have one of the top park systems in the country.”
Those looking for a run through the heart of downtown Denver can try out the Cherry Creek Trail. The trail runs throughout a large swath of the Denver area, a whole 40 miles in fact. While conquering the entire trail may be unrealistic for most, the ability to pick this trail up in numerous locations around the city makes the Cherry Creek trail very accessible.
The South Platte River trail is a similar trail for runners looking to get a more metro jaunt. This 20-mile trail is popular among bikers and runners alike and those who may be looking for a break from the busy bustle of the city streets. These city spanning routes are very popular for those living in the downtown neighborhoods and those wanting a quick break from running in the concrete cityscape.
Some other great running trails that are easily accessible in the North Denver areas are Sloan’s Lake and Crown Hill. Both trails can be reached by going down West Colfax. Sloan’s Lake provides those looking for a lakeside run with a beautiful view of the mile high city skyline. Sloan’s Lake Loop is the popular trail here. A little over two miles, this is a great trail choice for those new to running or just looking for a relaxing jog.
The Crown Hill Lake Loop is another great location in North Denver for those looking for a quaint lakeside run. Not as long as Sloan’s Lake, Crown hill is only a 1.2-mile loop with great views of the mountains and even the Flatirons towards the northwest.
“Crown Hill still feels a bit more wild than some other North Denver parks,” Snyder said. “My first time running through there I opened up the gate to the nature preserve and a baby deer popped out like I was on a Disney set.”
Those looking to see more wildlife like this could head out of the North Denver neighborhoods and get into some of the trails in the mountains close to Denver. Snyder, who is known at his Wheat Ridge running shop as a trail guru, recommends going out to the North Golden and Morrison area, where one can find endless miles of terrain.
“There are some gems in the Golden and Morrison area: Centennial Cone, White Ranch, and North and South Table Mountain,” Snyder said.
Snyder and different running groups he is familiar with often link into other trails or tackle multiple trails in one run. “It’s fun to get creative with it,” Snyder said. “Basically, any trail you can hike, you can trail run; that’s the beautiful thing about it.”
Those planning to go on longer runs should always check the forecast before venturing out onto the trails. The Colorado weather is known to be unpredictable and can be completely different from when you started the trail run to when you come back down the trailhead.
It is also crucial to respect the trails that you are running on. The public must retain responsibility for keeping the wonderful trail system free from trash.
“I can’t tell you the amount of plastic bottles I’ve found out there because someone finished their water bottle and got tired of carrying it, or it fell out of their hands, and they couldn’t be bothered to pick it up,” Snyder said.
The influx of newcomers to the state leaves many runners from other states having to deal with the new drastic change in altitude. The effects of the altitude can be felt relatively quickly and could overtake even the most experienced runners who thrive at sea level. Go the extra mile to ensure that you are sufficiently hydrated and running at your own pace, even when going with a group. Enjoy the gorgeous mountain trails and park systems North Denver offers.