Boulder Running Routes

Here are 25 great places to run in and around Boulder, plus a list of local tracks accessible to the public.

1) Betasso Preserve > West Boulder/Foothills > Moderate
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: Yes
To reach the main trailhead, drive 6 miles west on Boulder Canyon Drive to Sugarloaf Road and wind up the steep road to Betasso Road. The main Canyon Loop Trail is a 3.25-mile loop chock full of rolling hills and twisty turns as it winds through the park. You can make it a 7-mile loop if you tack on the singletrack Benjamin Loop midway through the Canyon Loop and return to the trailhead.

2) Boulder Creek Path > Central Boulder > Easy
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: Yes
This concrete bike path runs east-west through the city for more than 7 miles. If you start downtown and run up the canyon, you’ll climb about 600 feet over 2.5 miles to the western terminus. Otherwise, there’s a gradual decline from Eben Fine Park at the western edge of the city to Stazio Ball Fields where the trail ends at the eastern edge of the city. There are numerous other connecting bike paths that can be connected for long, traffic-free loops. It can be busy and congested, especially on weekends—and dangerous at night!— so beware and courteous to other path users, including cyclists, skateboarders and pedestrians.

3) Boulder Valley Ranch — > North of Boulder > Moderate
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: Yes
The main trailhead is located north of Boulder at the end of Longhorn Road, 1 mile east of Highway 36. There are several trails accessible from the parking area, including a 2.8-mile wide, rolling dirt road loop around Boulder Valley Ranch (that can also include an additional 1-mile out-and-back extension to the Eagle Trailhead on North 55th Street). Other trail options include a 5-mile out-and-back singeltrack route north along Left Hand Trail and a series of 2- to 4-mile loop options on the mesa above Boulder Valley Ranch. 

4) Chautauqua Park/Mesa Trail Central Boulder > Moderate/Difficult
Dogs: Yes (Not on McClintock Trail and upper Greenman Trail) Bathrooms: Yes
There are dozens of trails to run from Chautauqua Park (near 9th and Baseline), but none of them are flat. The main route is Mesa Trail, a rolling point-to-point route that terminates on Eldorado Springs Drive south of Boulder, but there are also trails up Flagstaff Mountain (2 miles one-way), Green Mountain (2.5 miles one way), Bear Peak (4 miles one way) and numerous other interconnecting routes. Mesa Trail crosses over North Shanahan Trail, South Shanahan Trail, Shadow Canyon Trail, Towhee Trail, Homestead Trail, Big Bluestem Trail and South Boulder Creek Trail, offering dozens of other unique loop options.

5) Coot Lake/Boulder Reservoir Loop > North Boulder > Easy
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: Yes
The main trailhead is located on 63rd Street a little less than a mile north of Diagonal Highway. If the small Coot Lake parking lot along 63rd Street is full, park at Tom Watson Park across the street. Other possible starting points include the main Boulder Reservoir parking area (but there is a fee to enter), the Eagle Trailhead on north 55th Street and the Boulder Reservoir West Trailhead on north 55th Street. To run the 6-mile loop around Boulder Reservoir, head south from Coot Lake and pick up the dirt road as it loops up toward to a flat dirt road on the eastern shore of the lake. After running over two dams, follow the route along the Reservoir roads to the park exit at 51st Street. Head right (north) and follow the dirt road as it winds and rolls around the northwest side of the Reservoir (passing Eagle Trailhead, and eventually becoming 55th Street) to the Boulder Reservoir West Trailhead. From there, follow the trails to the east to return back to the Coot Lake Trailhead. For a 10-mile run, veer left at Eagle Trailhead and the 4-mile loop around Boulder Valley Ranch before returning to the remainder of the Boulder Reservoir loop. Or usse Coot Lake or Eagle Trailhead as a starting point for a 15- to 20-mile run on the rolling rural backroads between Niwot Road and Nelson Road.

6) Degge Trail/Hidden Valley Trail > North of Boulder > Easy/Moderate
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: No
A variety of 2.5- to 4-mile rolling dirt singletrack loops can made by combining Degge Trail, Eagle Trail, Mesa Reservoir Trail and Hidden Valley Trail on the high mesa above Boulder Valley Ranch. These are some of the least crowded trails in Boulder, but they’re also some of the more exposed routes to sun and wind. Access to additional trails in Boulder Valley Ranch below the mesa is possible by connections from Cobalt Trail or Degge Trail. The trailhead is located north of Boulder just about a ½ mile north of the intersection of Broadway and Hwy 36.

7) Doudy Draw/Spring Brook Loop > Eldorado Springs > Moderate
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: Yes (slightly up the trail to the south)
Doudy Draw Trailhead is on the south side of Eldorado Springs Drive about 1.5 miles west of Highway 93. (It’s located directly across the road from South Mesa Trailhead.) Follow Doudy Draw Trail as it climbs upward to an intersection with Spring Brook Loop South and continues into a pine forest to connect with Spring Brook Loop North. Continue back down to the Doudy Draw Trail to finish a mild/moderate 5-mile loop. For an 8-mile loop, cross the bridge over the Denver Water canal at the top of the Spring Brook Loop and following the singletrack Goshawk Ridge Trail to Fowler Trail (dirt road) and back to Spring Brook Loop.

8) Fowler Trail/Rattlesnake Gulch Trail > Eldorado Springs > Moderate
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: No
From the south end of Boulder, head west on Eldorado Springs Drive to Boulder County Road 67 and park near the end of the road at the gate. (You can also run Rattlesnake Gulch from inside the park, but you have to pay an entrance fee.) Start running up Fowler Trail (a dirt road) as it heads south for a quarter mile and then winds back to the north. After it passes through a massive rock formation and heads south again, follow the Fowler Trail as it veers off to the right and turns into a semi-technical singletrack trail into Eldorado Springs State Park. The trail continues along a smooth ridgeline in the park, eventually veering to the left and beginning a climb up Rattlesnake Gulch. Heading up this semi-steep trail, you’ll pass the site where the Crags Hotel once stood and eventually reach a point where the Union Pacific Railroad cuts through the mountains on its way from Denver to Winter Park and points west. The trail continues to a scenic overlook at 7,050 feet, offering a nice glimpse of the Continental Divide and some of the higher peaks to the west. Return back to the trailhead for an 8-mile roundtrip.

Hall Ranch

Hall Ranch


9) Hall Ranch Open Space > Lyons > Moderate/Difficult
Dogs: No Bathrooms: Yes
Hall Ranch Open Space is located just west of Lyons about 15 miles north of Boulder. The Bitterbursh Trailhead is located about 1.5 miles southwest of Lyons along South St. Vrain Drive and provides access to the Bitterbrush and Nighthawks Trails that combine to form an idyllic 9-mile loop in the interior of the park. The rolling, singletrack route climbs and descends gently and offers amazing, wide-open views in all directions.

10) Heil Valley Ranch > North of Boulder > Moderate/Difficult
Dogs: No Bathrooms: Yes
Heil Valley Ranch is located north of Boulder about 5.5 miles north of the town along Lefthand Canyon Drive. There are several rocky and hilly singletrack trails and loops that start from the main trailhead of this thickly wooded park. It’s possible to create an 8- to 10-mile loop by combining Watipi Trail, Ponderosa Loop and Wild Turkey Trail to the high point of the park. You can create a much longer run up to 20 miles by running all the way to the Picture Rock Trailhead on South St. Vrain Road near Lyons and back.

Chasm Lake
11) Longs Peak/Chasm Lake > Allespark/Estes Park > Difficult
Dogs: No Bathrooms: Yes
To get to the Longs Peak Trailhead, take Highway 36 from Boulder to Lyons, then take Highway 7 west out of Lyons (which merges into Peak to Peak Highway). The trailhead is about 25 miles northwest of Lyons on the west side of Highway 7. Longs Peak is the closest 14er to Boulder, but that doesn’t mean it’s the easiest to run or hike. Much of the trail to the upper base of Longs Peak is runnable, but a 6.2-mile run to the boulder field just below the Keyhole can be quite rigorous because of the altitude (13,200 feet at the Keyhole). If you’re planning to venture beyond the Keyhole, be extremely careful! It’s a very treacherous hike to the 14,259-foot summit over very technical terrain. A slightly easier and shorter run from the Longs Peak Trailhead is the 4.2-mile run to Chasm Lake, an icy cold high-alpine lake that glistens below the peak.

12) Magnolia Road > West Boulder/Foothills > Moderate/Difficult
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: No
Magnolia Road is rolling, 8-mile dirt and gravel road west of Boulder situated between 8,100 and 8,800 feet that can make for a hearty 16-mile out and back run from springtime to early winter. To reach the east starting point, take Boulder Canyon Drive West about 6 miles to Magnolia Road and wind 4 miles until the pavement ends. The west starting point is along Peak to Peak Highway about 2 miles south of Nederland.

13) Marshall Mesa/Dirty Bismarck > South of Boulder/Marshall > Moderate
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: Yes
The Dirty Bismark Loop is a 14.8-mile, rolling loop on dirt/gravel roads and singeltrack trails between the southern edge of Boulder and Superior. It’s named after the Morgul Bismark bike race course held on the roads that border this collection of open space lands. The course is wide open, scenic and entirely runnable, but it does have a few steep hills that will slow your pace a bit. There are several trailhead access points along this large loop, including the Marshall Mesa Trailhead at Highway 93 and Marshall Road in Marshall, the Greenbelt Plateau Trailhead at Highway 93 and Highway 128 about 3 miles south of Boulder and Coalton Trailhead at Coalton Road and McCaslin Boulevard in Superior. 

14) Marshall Mesa/Flatirons Vista/Community Ditch > Marshall/Eldorado Springs > Moderate
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: Yes
This is a fun, energizing and very scenic 8.5-mile loop that connects the trails on Marshall Mesa, Community Ditch Trail, Flatirons Vista North Trail and Greenbelt Plateau Trail. There are a few minor climbs and some semi-technical footing, but most of the loop is made up of relatively flat wide dirt and gravel trails, although there is a section of singletrack dirt trails too. There are four places to start this loop between Marshall and Eldorado Springs south of Boulder: Marshall Mesa Trailhead, Doudy Draw Trailhead, Flatirons Vista Trailhead and Greenbelt Plateau Trailhead.

15) Mesa Trail  >  Central Boulder/South Boulder > Easy/Moderate
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: No
Mesa Trail is a rolling, semi-technical singletrack trail that extends 7.0 miles between Chautauqua Park and Eldorado Springs. It’s a classic point-to-point route but it’s also the main conduit of a series of intersecting trails that can be connected to form an unlimited variety of loops, as well as routes up Green Mountain and Beak Peak. The main Mesa Trail access points are from Chautauqua Park near 9th and Baseline in Boulder and South Mesa Trailhead on Eldorado Canyon Drive in Eldorado Springs, however there are numerous trails that intersect Mesa Trail between those two points. Mesa Trail intersects with Bear Canyon Trail and Fern Canyon Trail, offering direct access to Bear Peak and a connection to Green-Bear Trail that connects to Bear Peak and Green Mountain. The trail also crosses over North Shanahan Trail, South Shanahan Trail, Shadow Canyon Trail, Towhee Trail, Homestead Trail, Big Bluestem Trail and South Boulder Creek Trail, offering dozens of other unique loop possibilities.


16) Mt. Sanitas Trail/Lion’s Lair Loop Central Boulder > Moderate/Hard
Dogs: Yes, but not on Lion’s Lair Bathrooms: Yes
The routes up 6,863-foot Mt. Sanitas are among Boulder’s most popular trails. There are three main options from base of the mountain on Mapleton Avenue: the steep, rocky 1.3-mile route up the Mt. Sanitas Ridge to the top of the mountain; the 1-mile smooth dirt road route up Sanitas Valley Trail and the 1-mile rocky singletrack route up Dakota Ridge Trail that connect with the steep, rocky 0.6-mile East Ridge Trail that heads to the summit. The other trail option out of the Centennial Trailhead is the 3.8-mile route to the Mt. Sanitas summit by combining Sunshine Canyon Trail with Lion’s Lair Trail. Each of the routes to the top climbs 1,340 feet, but the Centennial/Lion’s Lair Loop is the most gradual and consistently runnable. The Centennial Trailhead is located in west-central Boulder on Mapleton Avenue about 1/3 of a mile west of 4th Street. Given the popularity of the trail, the smallish trailhead parking lot is typically full so park along Mapleton or 4th Street instead.

17) Pawnee/Buchannan Loop > Ward/Allenspark > Difficult
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: Yes
This is a rigorous but amazing, 26.4-mile high-alpine loop that sends runners through spectacular terrain on both sides of the Continental Divide in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. The loop, which circumnavigates Mt. Audubon (13,229 feet), Paiute Peak (13,088 feet), Mt. Toll (12,979 feet) and other big mountains on the western edge of Boulder County, is comprised mostly of mild to technical singletrack trails and includes 6,675 feet of vertical gain. The best place to start this loop is at the remote Long Lake or Mitchell Lake trailhead inside of Brainard Lake Recreation Area. The other main starting point is Buchannan Pass Trailhead, located about 4 miles west of Peak to Peak Highway.

18) Sourdough Trail > Nederland > Moderate
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: Yes
Sourdough Trail is a rugged, remote and spectacular 5.5-mile singletrack trail nestled in thick pine and aspen forest terrain west of Peak to Peak Highway. It climbs about 1,200 feet from south to north and tops out at 10,245 feet, making it a robust 11-mile roundtrip run. Start from the South Sourdough Trailhead located on County Road 116 about a half mile west of Peak to Peak Highway and 7 miles north of Nederland. The North Sourdough Trailhead is located on Brainard Lake Road about 2.5 miles west of Ward, but parking is usually a bit more scarce there in the summer given the popularity of Brainard Lake Recreation Area.

19) South Bobolink Trail/South Boulder Creek Trail > South Boulder > Easy
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: No
One of the few mostly flat running trails in Boulder, Bobolink/South Boulder Creek Trail stretches for 3.3 miles between Marshall Road and Baseline Road. (It slopes slightly downhill from south to north, dropping 130 feet from trailhead to trailhead.) It’s a great place for recovery runs, tempo runs and interval workouts. Take Broadway south out of Boulder and turn off onto Marshall Road. Park along Marshall Road and start your run inside the gate at the trailhead. You can tack on additional miles by continuing under the Baseline underpass and linking Gapter Road, a path along South Boulder Creek and Old Tale Road to Arapahoe Avenue, where you can then connect to a spur of Boulder Creek Path. If you’re training for a marathon and need to run a long run without much elevation gain, it’s easy to link trails and paths for a 16- to 22-mile run.

South Mesa Trailhead is a great place to run Mesa Trail, South Boulder Creek Trail, Towhee Trail and Homestead Trail.

South Mesa Trailhead is a great place to run Mesa Trail, South Boulder Creek Trail, Towhee Trail and Homestead Trail.


20) South Mesa Trailhead > Eldorado Springs > Moderate
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: Yes
The main route from the South Mesa Trailhead is the hilly 7-mile point-to-point Mesa Trail that leads to Chautauqua Park. Running Mesa Trail south to north is a bit harder than the opposite direction, mostly because the trail climbs considerably for the first 2 miles from the South Mesa Trailhead. Several additional loops ranging from 3 miles to 6 miles can be made by connecting Towhee Trail, Homestead Trail, Shadow Canyon Trail, Lower Big Bluestem Trail and South Boulder Creek Trail. South Mesa Trailhead is on the north side of Eldorado Springs Drive about 1.5 miles west of Highway 93. (It’s directly across the road from the Doudy Draw Trailhead.)

Switzerland Trail

Switzerland Trail


21) Switzerland Trail > West Boulder/Foothills > Moderate
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: No
The Switzerland Trail can be accessed from a trailhead near the top of Sugarloaf Mountain by taking Boulder Canyon Drive to Sugarloaf Road and driving about 5.5 miles west to the trailhead situated at about 9,100 feet. Another key access point to start a run is at an area known as Gold Hill Station about 2.5 miles west of the town of Gold Hill. The Switzerland Trail follows the old right-of-way of a narrow gauge railroad that operated between Boulder and several mining towns from the 1883 until 1919. Because railroads ran on mild to moderate grades of 3 to 6 percent, the switch-backing dirt roads left behind where the rails once were are now ideal for trail running. There are a few different routes that can be made with connector trails, but the most obvious is a 17-mile roundtrip that can be made running from the Sugarloaf Mountain downward to the town site of Sunset and up to Gold Hill Station and back. Despite 1,500 feet of climbing in each direction, the wide dirt roads are fairly easy to run and offer great views.

22) Teller Farm/East Boulder Trail/White Rocks Trail > East Boulder > Easy
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: At Teller Farms South only
There are two main Teller Farm trailheads: Teller Farm South Trailhead off of Arapahoe Avenue about a mile east of 75th Street and Teller Farm North Trailhead off of Valmont Road, about 2 miles east of 75th Street. Starting from Teller Farm South Trailhead, the mostly flat East Boulder Trail winds its way through open space and ranching land about 2.2 miles to Teller Farm North Trailhead on Valmont. The trail continues north of Valmont into another open space area, adjacent to a habitat preservation area, over Boulder Creek (but the bridge has been broken since the floods of 2013) and up into the hills around the White Rocks Nature Preserve area. About 2.5 miles from Teller Farm North Trailhead, East Boulder Trail splits, with one spur heading ½ mile to the east to the White Rocks Trailhead at 95th Street and another heading 2 miles west over rolling hills to an access point on north 75th Street. So it’s possible to run a 13-mile roundtrip run on East Boulder Trail from end to end.

23) Twin Lakes Open Space > North of Boulder/Gunbarrel > Easy
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: No
Twin Lakes Open Space is a hidden gem in Gunbarrel that’s ideal for short runs on flat terrain. Each of the two lakes, aptly named West Lake and East Lake, is encircled by a flat, wide dirt trail that measures about 1,200 meters around. Run easy and combine the two lakes in various directions for a 3- to 5-mile run, or one of the loops for a speed workout like 6 x 800 or 5 x 1-mile. To reach the main parking area, go east on Nautilus Drive from North 63rd Street, pass Avery Brewing on your left and park anywhere along the road adjacent to the lakes. Avery Brewing hosts fun runs every Monday night from mid-April to late October. The 3- to 5-mile runs start at 6 p.m. and pass through the Twin Lakes area.

24) Walker Ranch Loop > West of Boulder/Foothills > Moderate/Difficult
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: Yes
Walker Ranch Loop is a stunning and very challenging 8-mile loop that includes some steep climbing, sharp descending, amazing views and an up-close look at some dramatic waterfalls along South Boulder Creek. There is a 500-foot climb/descent with precarious stone steps adjacent to the waterfalls that requires hiking, but otherwise the loop is entirely runnable. The main Walker Ranch Loop trailhead is located on Flagstaff Road about 6 miles west of Boulder. From Chautauqua Park, take Baseline Road west to the base of Flagstaff Mountain where it becomes Flagstaff Road and climbs through a series of switchbacks to the back side of Green Mountain and Bear Peak and then descends toward the Walker Ranch Loop trailhead. The Walker Ranch Loop can also be reached via Eldorado Canyon Trail that starts in Eldorado Canyon State Park.

25) Wonderlake Lake/Foothills Trail > North Boulder > Easy
Dogs: Yes Bathrooms: No
The main trailhead is located in north Boulder along the west side of Broadway near Sumac Avenue, but there are several places to access the loop around Wonderland Lake from the adjacent neighborhoods. Wonderland Lake can also be accessed by running south on Foothills South Trail from the Lee Hill Trailhead parking lot on Lee Hill Road about ½ mile west of Broadway. From the trailhead on Broadway, there’s a ¼-mile wide dirt trail that connects to the main 1.2-mile, mostly flat loop around the lake. On the northwest side of the loop, the trail connects to Foothills South Trail, which climbs a big hill and heads north through to connections with several others trails that include the rolling Old Kiln Loop, the steep Hogback Ridge Loop, Foothills North Trail that forks north for about 2 miles and east for ½ mile to a trailhead on the east side of Hwy 36. For a much larger, 12- to 18-mile loop entirely on trails, start at the Wonderland Lake Trailhead, circle the lake and head north along Foothills Trail South across Lee Hill Drive. Continue on Foothills Trail South to the spur that cuts under Highway 36 to the system of trails branching off the Degge Trail/Eagle Trail area. From there, head down Cobalt Trail to Boudler Valley Ranch and complete that 3-mile loop for a 12-mile roundtrip. Or continue along Eagle Trail Boulder Reservoir and back to complete the 18-mile circuit. 

Manhattan Middle School Track

Manhattan Middle School Track

TRACK FACILITIES
1) Centennial Middle School
2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder
The Centennial Middle School track is open but not available during school hours or if they are being used for school-sanctioned activities after school or on weekends.



2) Manhattan Middle School
290 Manhattan Drive, Boulder
The Manhattan Middle School track is open but not available during school hours or if they are being used for school-sanctioned activities after school or on weekends.

3) University of Colorado
Discovery Drive, Boulder

The track at Potts Field on the University of Colorado campus is only accessible to the public during Boulder Road Runners all-comers meets in the summer. The 2019 dates are June 6, June 20, July 4, July 18 and Aug. 1, Aug. 15. Visit bolderroadrunners.org for more information.

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