If you aren’t a big fan of running along a road, track, or treadmill, then trail running could give you the excitement and enjoyment you’ve been looking for. Colorado has tons of places to enjoy a great trail run out in nature, and everything west of the Continental Divide is no exception.
Here are some of the top trail running spots on the Western Slope. After reading about them, you’ll want to lace up your shoes and hit the trails immediately!
This 11-miler isn’t for the faint of heart, especially due to the elevation, but it sure is a great trail. It’s mostly used by hikers and overnight backpackers, but if you’re in shape and ready to run you can certainly tackle it in a few sweaty hours.
Colorado’s Grand Mesa presents some astounding scenery — not hard to believe, considering you’ll be running along what is thought to be the world’s largest flat-topped mountain. This strenuous run will take you from 10,262 to 11,216 feet in elevation.
For a more moderate trail run, try the 3.9-mile Serpent’s Trail in Colorado National Monument. The elevation here is a bit easier to handle at 5,050 to 5,840 feet.
The elevation gain and rocky terrain are enough to keep you on your toes without making you regret the decision to give trail running a go. If you like a bit of history with your exercise, you’ll love this trail. It follows an original road that was built before Rim Rock Drive, and it was nicknamed the 'Crookedest Road in the World'.
If you’d rather run with views of rugged, lofty mountain peaks, and love the atmosphere of a fun race, give the Trail Town 10 Miler a try. You’ll see the Sneffels and Cimarron Ranges on this well-maintained gravel lollipop loop, all while enjoying a lively and fun atmosphere.
The elevation gain is 525 feet, so it won’t be too much of a lung burner for many Colorado runners. To learn more about the race, and to check out the route if you’d like to run it another time of the year, check out Kate Runs Colorado’s writeup.
Colorado National Monument has a variety of excellent trails that are worth mentioning, so let’s explore another Western Slope favorite: Monument Canyon Trail.
The 5.7-mile trail will grant you some motivating views of Monument Canyon and the surrounding area as you run into the canyon. The terrain is a combo of rock, well-packed trail, and technical bits where you may want to walk. It’s an intermediate trail with a low-end elevation of 4,723 feet, and a high point of 6,129 feet.
There’s something magical about the small, mountain-shielded town of Ouray. The town’s Perimeter Trail shows off the best of those mountain views, and the 4.2-mile trail serves up a moderate 800 feet of elevation gain.
Be sure to bring a camera with you on this one! While you may intend to run the whole thing without stopping, taking a few moments to stand and appreciate the view is highly recommended.