Best Running Trails in Colorado

Colorado, renowned for its majestic mountains and breathtaking landscapes, offers some of the most exhilarating running trails in the United States. Whether you’re an avid trail runner seeking a challenge or a beginner looking for scenic routes, Colorado has something for everyone. Let’s explore some of the best running trails in the state that will leave you awe-inspired and invigorated.

Rocky Mountain National Park Trails

Trail Highlights: Stunning alpine vistas, diverse wildlife, challenging terrain.

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Rocky Mountain National Park boasts a myriad of trails catering to all skill levels. From leisurely strolls around serene lakes to demanding ascents up rugged peaks, there’s a trail for every runner. Don’t miss out on iconic routes like the Bear Lake Loop or the exhilarating climb to the summit of Longs Peak.

Garden of the Gods Loop Trail

Trail Highlights: Unique rock formations, panoramic views of Pikes Peak, easy accessibility.

Located in Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods Loop Trail offers a mesmerizing blend of natural beauty and geological wonders. Runners can weave through towering sandstone formations while enjoying uninterrupted vistas of the nearby mountains. This trail is perfect for runners of all abilities, with its well-maintained paths and gentle terrain.

Boulder Creek Path

Trail Highlights: Scenic creek-side views, urban trail experience, vibrant atmosphere.

For those seeking a mix of nature and city life, the Boulder Creek Path in Boulder is an ideal choice. This paved trail follows the meandering Boulder Creek, offering a tranquil escape amidst the bustling city. With its flat terrain and lush surroundings, it’s perfect for both leisurely jogs and intense training sessions.

Maroon Bells Loop

Trail Highlights: Iconic mountain scenery, pristine wilderness, challenging elevation gain.

Widely regarded as one of the most photogenic spots in Colorado, the Maroon Bells Loop near Aspen is a runner’s paradise. This picturesque trail winds through aspen groves, alongside crystalline lakes, and beneath towering peaks. While the elevation gain can be demanding, the awe-inspiring vistas make every step worth it.

Manitou Incline

Trail Highlights: Steep ascent, panoramic views, intense workout.

For the ultimate test of endurance and determination, look no further than the Manitou Incline near Colorado Springs. Originally a railway track, this challenging trail consists of a relentless series of stairs ascending over 2,000 feet in just under a mile. While it may push your limits, reaching the summit rewards you with unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape.

Royal Arch Trail

Trail Highlights: Natural sandstone arch, lush forest scenery, moderate difficulty.

Nestled in Boulder’s iconic Flatirons, the Royal Arch Trail offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and adventure. As you ascend through fragrant pine forests and scramble over rocky terrain, the sight of the majestic Royal Arch will leave you in awe. It’s a must-visit for any trail runner exploring Colorado.

Mount Sanitas Trail

Trail Highlights: Sweeping panoramas, challenging ascent, proximity to Boulder.

Located just minutes from downtown Boulder, the Mount Sanitas Trail provides a convenient escape into nature without venturing far from the city. The steep climb rewards runners with panoramic views of Boulder and the surrounding foothills. It’s a popular choice for locals and visitors alike, offering a satisfying workout with stunning scenery.

Chautauqua Trail

Trail Highlights: Historic charm, diverse ecosystems, family-friendly trails.

Situated at the base of the Flatirons in Boulder, the Chautauqua Trail offers a range of trails suitable for all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, you’ll find it here amidst the tranquil beauty of the Chautauqua Park. Don’t forget to explore the historic Chautauqua Auditorium and Dining Hall after your run.

Barr Trail

Trail Highlights: Ascend Pikes Peak, stunning alpine scenery, rewarding summit.

Embark on an epic adventure along the Barr Trail, which leads intrepid runners to the summit of Pikes Peak, one of Colorado’s famous fourteeners. This iconic trail offers a grueling but rewarding ascent through diverse ecosystems, from dense forests to alpine tundra. With breathtaking views awaiting at the summit, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Horsetooth Rock Trail

Trail Highlights: Unique rock formations, panoramic views of Fort Collins, challenging terrain.

Located west of Fort Collins, Horsetooth Rock Trail meanders through picturesque foothills and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding plains. The highlight of the trail is the towering Horsetooth Rock, a distinctive geological formation that serves as a stunning backdrop for your run. With its varying terrain and rewarding vistas, it’s a favorite among local trail enthusiasts.

Tips for Enjoyable Trail Running

Trail running can be a rewarding and exhilarating experience, but it’s essential to be prepared. Here are some tips to ensure you make the most of your time on the trails:

  • Proper Gear: Invest in quality trail running shoes with good traction, moisture-wicking clothing, and a lightweight hydration pack.
  • Hydration and Nutrition: Stay hydrated by carrying water or electrolyte-replacement drinks, and fuel your body with energy-rich snacks like trail mix or energy gels.
  • Safety Measures: Always let someone know your planned route and expected return time, carry a trail map or GPS device, and be aware of potential hazards such as wildlife or changing weather conditions.


With its diverse terrain, stunning landscapes, and abundance of trails, Colorado offers endless opportunities for trail runners to explore and experience the great outdoors. Whether you’re seeking a challenging ascent to a mountain peak or a leisurely jog through scenic valleys, you’ll find it all here. So lace up your shoes, hit the trails, and discover the beauty of Colorado one stride at a time.

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