You just need to check out any trail map of Boulder to see w this city is a mecca for trail runners. You could run on Boulder’s vast network of trails for weeks and hardly ever hit the same route. Boulder has prime running trails offering everything from wide-open fire roads to rocky, technical ascents. Whether you like to charge hard through the hills or prefer to trot along at a relaxed pace, or hit the trail for an hour or a day, Boulder has the perfect trail for you.
Boulder is situated at 5,400 feet above sea level, but nearby trails can take you above 8,000 feet and a short drive can mean long runs between 9,000 to 12,000 feet.
Weather: Low humidity, mild temperatures (highs in the low 80s, evening lows in the 50s) and lots of sunshine make for idyllic running conditions in June and July. There’s usually a three-week period of hotter weather from late July to mid-August (highs in the mid-90s) tempered with late afternoon thunderstorms.
Best Trails: There are dozens of rolling and mountainous routes to choose from in all directions, but four of the best are the 7-mile Mesa Trail below the Flatirons, the 8-mile rollercoaster Walker Ranch loop, the strenuous route up 8,150-foot Green Mountain and a short but grueling trail up Mount Sanitas
The Mesa Trail
The Mesa Trail is a classic Boulder trail run. This fine route just south of Boulder, popular with many local trail runners, is perhaps the best run in the Boulder area stretching more than seven miles along the foothills from Chautauqua Park to the South Mesa Trailhead near Eldorado Springs.
Running the full length is like taking a tour of Boulder’s mountain parks, with scenic vistas of the dramatic Flatirons, ponderosa pine forests, colorful wildflower meadows, and the rolling plains to the east.
The trail meanders up and down through the trees and is mostly shaded, although the southern end is fairly exposed. Be prepared for some rocky sections and steps with railroad ties.
It’s a burly 13.4 miles and 3,250 feet of elevation gain if you go all the way out and back. Alternatively, shuttle a car or arrange for a pickup and run it one way. Running north to south is slightly more downhill and gives you the option of soaking your tired feet in South Boulder Creek at the end.
Numerous rolling dirt routes lead north from Wonderland Lake, a tranquil, lovely park in North Boulder, just three miles from downtown but a world away from its hustle and bustle. Take a lap or two around the lake, or use the park as a launching point for trails father afield. The Foothills Trail heads north out of the park and leads along the edge of the foothills—hence the name.
Several trails branch off the Foothills Trail and head up into the hills. These trails see less traffic than some of their cousins farther south, so they’re suitable if you’re seeking a bit of solitude. Old Kiln and Wonderland Hill seem to be almost secretive (although they are well marked). Keep going north on the Foothills Trail past Lee Hill Drive and you’ll eventually hit the Hogback Ridge Loop, a lovely trail that is never crowded, even on summer weekends
Plus: All-comers community track meets are held every other Tuesday from June through August at the University of Colorado. Join the group run at Flatirons Running on Wednesday nights followed by pizza from Under the Sun Eatery & Taphouse and beer from Avery Brewing Co.
Eat & Drink: Boulder has several great post-run breakfast spots (Snooze, Lucille’s, Tangerine and the Southside Walnut Cafe), critically acclaimed restaurants (Frasca, Oak and The Kitchen) and more than 20 brewpubs and tasting rooms (Southern Sun Pub & Brewery, Walnut Brewery, Fate Brewing Co., Upslope Brewing Co)