To most of us in the running community, Colorado and trail running are synonymous. Colorado boasts some amazing places that top the national charts when it comes to outdoor recreation: Aspen, Boulder, Vail, and Estes Park to name a few. The capital city of Denver is rarely thought of as a training-ground mecca for runners, however the variety of trail options is impressive. If you’re not able to escape to the mountains and find yourself in the Denver-area for some time- get excited because there are a lot of great opportunities to hit the trails!
Golden, located just west of Denver along I-70 in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, is the home of some pretty sweet things: Coors Brewery, the American Mountaineering Center, and dozens of awesome trails. There is a charming downtown full of great shops and restaurants, the Clear Creek for a good soak, a numerous places to grab a cold beer post-run.
Where to Run
Apex Park: This trail running gem is great bang-for-your-buck. It’s located in a geographically smaller area, but you get strenuous climbing, technical terrain, and woods so magical the trail is called the “Enchanted Forest”. Apex is one of many parks that are part of the Jefferson County Public Lands or commonly referred to as Jeffco Open Space. There are 252 miles of trail to check out! Visit their website for a comprehensive list of the parks and detailed trail maps as well as trailhead addresses. And, when you’re at Apex, make sure to get on the Enchanted Forest trail – the thick, tall trees make it one of my favorites to run!
White Ranch Park: This park sits just a little north of Golden and is beautiful! If you’re looking for some good vert training, go here. Essentially, you have to climb at least a few miles to get to the meat of the trails. Once you’re up top, soak in the great views, lush forests and serenity you’re sure to find. Then, on your way back down to the car, be sure to treat yourself to the rolling and playful nature of the Mustang Trail. It’s a goodie—one of my favorites on the Front Range.
Chimney Gulch and the Beaver Brook Trail: These two trails are a few of my favorite to link up for some longer miles. Start at the Chimney Gulch Trailhead off Highway 6 in Golden and start climbing. This trail winds up Lookout Mountain and eventually (in roughly 2.5 miles) gets you to a beautiful overlook and shortly after the Beaver Brook Trail. Beaver Brook has a technical start that is not super runnable, but quickly turns into a nice, rolling trail that meanders west high above the Clear Creek Canyon. There are some thick-forested sections as well as stunning views when the trees thin out.
Other must-see parks:
Where to Eat + Drink
Golden City Brewery: A cozy neighborhood spot that has fun outdoor seating and fantastic beer.
Mountain Toad Brewing: Again, amazing outdoor seating, top notch beer, and rotating food trucks every day!
Amir Grill: Tasty Middle Eastern food that hits the spot after a long run. They make their own pita bread in a wood-fired oven right in front and have hummus that is incredible!
Bobs Atomic Burgers: A Colorado classic! Amazing burgers at a quirky little joint that is so good they often have a line out the door. Definitely worth a stop.
Where to Shop + Supply
Golden is a beautiful little town on the western edge of a large city. It is conveniently nestled at the base of the foothills and therefore has so much to offer trail runners! It is absolutely worth a visit if you’re in from another state or just moving to the area- there is so much to explore. If you check out what I’ve mentioned above, you’re only scratching the surface. So, get to Golden and start the adventuring. Happy running!