Finding a city’s secret spots can only really happen at human speed. In this series, World Running Guide, we’ll provide information to help you discover your next destination through the eyes (or rather, feet) of a runner.
Boulder, Colorado, has
45,000 acres of open space to feel the grass under your feet and the fresh air above. Combine that with more than 150 miles of biking and hiking trails on and around peaks like the picturesque Flatirons and it is not hard to imagine the whirlwind of possibilities for runners.
Photo courtesy of W&J, CC-BY-SA
Boulder is paradise for any outdoor adventurer, whether it’s skiing, biking, or running. The mountainside town is highly regarded in the fitness world, especially for its trails. On Active.com and Forbes, Boulder ranked #4 in a list of the best running cities in the country. Women’s Running ranked it at sixth, beating out major players like Boston and Austin. Men’s Fitness considered it the third best American city for trail running.
As you can see, Boulder’s trails have stolen America’s heart. The climate isn’t too shabby either. Average annual high temperatures are around 65 degrees and low temperatures at 37—not too cold, and not too hot. When it does get toasty, the landscape is dreamy underneath some bright sunshine and the slopes super fun for diehard skiers. In short: Boulder’s climate should fulfill (almost) every desire.
Photo courtesy of Kallu, CC-BY-SA
Exploring Boulder is hard without eventually bumping into the Mesa Trail. The infamous route is seven miles of pure Colorado greenery, dirt, and rock formations. You can either start at the north end at the Chautauqua trailhead, or the south end at the South Mesa trailhead. If you want to know what Boulder looks like summed up into one picture, this run is for you.
Another scenic run is the Skunk Canyon Kohler Mesa Loop (don’t worry no actual skunks on this route…I think). The path is only three miles which makes for a great short, speed workout or can be added to the rest of the Mesa Trail. You’ll climb several hundred feet in elevation and see sweeping views of Green Mountain and Skunk Canyon.
Another short-distance run is the Mount Sanitas 5K loop, but should not be underestimated. You’ll climb a whopping 1,300 feet of elevation, so this bad boy is great for speed or hill workouts. Go up the mountain on the Mount Sanitas trail and descend using the East Ridge Trail.
Photo by Glen Delman
Austin, Texas and Boulder, Colorado may not seem to have much in common at first, but if there’s one combination these two prize, it’s the marriage of running and beer. There are plenty of running clubs in Boulder from which to choose, and there’s a high chance one of them rewards long runs with a treat on tap.
One of these clubs is the Boulder Rogue Runners. This fun bunch has a Tuesday Rogue Run where they take off at 6:30, run along the Boulder Creek Path (usually a 5k distance), and then go to Fate Brewery afterwards for food and beer.
Maybe alcohol doesn’t float your boat as a post-run reward. What about breakfast? Try the Boulder Trail Running Breakfast Club. This group escapes up into the mountains, sometimes up to three hours, and then comes back to the city to find a brunch spot. And you know who makes the best breakfast? Moms, and they have a running group all on their own. Moms Run This Town is a national running squad that has chapters all over the country, including one in Boulder. The club is free and for all women, and you can check out their Facebook group here.
One thing is for sure: Colorado is passionate about pushing people beyond the comfort of their own homes and out into the great wild. Boulder is no different. Lace up and go see what trails wait for you in this misty mountain getaway.
Ironkids Boulder Fun Run (for the kiddos).
Bold: Boulder Backroads Marathon
Beast: The Leadville 100 (just a two-hour drive).
Can’t Miss: Flatiron Mountains
Main image: Photo courtesy of Brian T with the Boulder Trail Running Breakfast Club; lead image: Photo courtesy of Leigh McAdam, CC-BY
McGee Nall is a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia. She was probably eating Nilla wafers and Nutella while writing this.