About Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, colloquially referred to as “the Springs” is the second-most populous city in Colorado. Despite its large population, Colorado Springs is home to marvelous mountain running trails. Large parks and open spaces abound and its location on the Front Range means that big mountains overlook the town. These mountains are dominated by Pikes Peak, a 14,000 foot mountain that watches over Colorado Springs. Additionally, the 6,000 to 8,000 foot elevation of the city renders high-altitude training a must. Compared even to 5,000 foot Boulder, the Springs has it pretty good when it comes to low O₂ levels.
North Cheyenne Cañon Park
North Cheyenne Cañon Park is the running and hiking gem of Colorado Springs. Nestled above the Broadmoor, just the winding drive up the canyon is reason enough to visit. Trails twist and turn throughout the park, which becomes quite crowded on weekends. Weekdays, however, often leave North Cheyenne Cañon Park empty and feelings of wide wilderness are easy to find. Every trail in the park is worthwhile, but the grand slam is summiting the six peaks of the canyon via this FKT route.
Sante Fe Trail
The Sante Fe Trail connects to an urban biking and running trail that twists through the middle of Colorado Springs near I-25. A parking area off of Woodmen Road is typically packed at popular times, but more parking is available across the street. From this parking lot, head north. The Sante Fe Trail travels through the Air Force Academy and planes are often in the sky, which makes for free running entertainment. The trail continues on into Monument, but can also be traversed southwards through Colorado Springs and into Fountain. This is great for point-to-point runs on days runners have a ride back to the trailhead. The relatively flat terrain is also perfect for no-vert training.
Northeast of Colorado Springs is the town of Black Forest. There are a variety of open spaces and gorgeous running trails here, typically more flat than the mountain trails to the west. These areas include the Pineries Open Space, Black Forest Section 16 and Black Forest Regional Park. Black Forest Regional Park boasts an FKT route that completes a tour of the area. Pineries is a relatively new route around Colorado Springs, but is already quite popular. All of these Black Forest area trails make their way around privately owned areas, but maintain the feel of a park. Due to the surrounding homes, it is important to stay on the trail here. Further, despite its relatively urban nature, there are plenty of animals to be found; bears and rattlesnakes frequent the Black Forest as much as they do the rest of Colorado Springs. The Black Forest trails are also ideal for a vert break or those who live on the east side of the Springs.
Red Rocks Open Space
Red Rocks Open Space is the best urban park in Colorado Springs. Every trail and dirt road throughout the park is excellent for running, but some trails are quite popular with mountain bikers as well. The old quarry section of the park is fascinating and every rock formation is stunning. Runners can be inspired by brave climbers scaling the rocks. The running routes continue on to popular trails like Intermann or Section 16, making it particularly easy to find long routes next to the city without touching pavement. Red Rocks is ideal for both short and long runs, as two-mile loops back to the parking lot are also aplenty.
The Barr Trail is likely the most difficult route in the Colorado Springs region. The out and back route begins in Manitou Springs and culminates at the summit of Pikes Peak after 7,500 feet of elevation gain. The Pikes Peak Marathon uses the Barr Trail route every year, as the round-trip route is about 26.2 miles. The infamous Manitou Incline also asks that hikers use the Barr Trail to descend from the top of the Incline. About halfway between the start and summit is Barr Camp, a popular camping spot for those who make the journey a two-day climb. The Barr Trail is perfect for those looking to test their fitness. The only downside is that hikers must often pay for parking due to the limited free parking in Manitou Springs, which is not the case at other trailheads.
After a gorgeous run in the Springs, head to Pikes Perk on the west side for coffee or hit up Zaika Indian Cuisine. If you are spending the night and feeling a $20 hamburger, Ted’s Montana Grill whips up pristine Bison Burgers and cocktails.
Many of the trails of the Springs link up to one another, so runs can be continually extended. For example, Bear Creek Cañon Park connects to Section 16 Open Space connects to Bear Creek Cañon connects to North Cheyenne Cañon Park connects to Pike National Forest connects… you get the point. Best of all, the use of every one of these trails, parks and open spaces is absolutely free. These two factors make Colorado Springs wonderful for athletes of all abilities. The above routes don’t even begin to touch on the extent of the Colorado Springs trail system. Garden of the Gods, Palmer Park, Blodgett Peak Open Space and Waldo Canyon are a few other highlights. This underrated city seems to always have another hidden trail to offer.