3 of America’s Top Trail Running Towns

Boulder, CO

This running mecca gets high marks for its trails, brewpubs, restaurants, weather, running shops and overall endurance sports vibe. 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, which is why early-morning easy runs above 10,000 feet in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area are preferred during that time of year.

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. Numerous rolling dirt routes lead north from Wonderland Lake, while Heil Ranch and Hall Ranch open space parks and the Dirty Bismarck Loop from Marshall Mesa Trailhead are great places for longer runs on rolling routes with a few big climbs.

Other options: Drive 35 minutes out of town and run up to the Continental Divide on Buchanan Pass Trail along wildflower meadows and bubbling streams. Or test your mettle on the 7.5-mile, increasingly technical route up Longs Peak (14,259 feet, the state’s 15th highest peak). A long run on legendary Magnolia Road—where elite runners have trained above 8,000 feet for decades—should also be on your itinerary.

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., Avery Brewing Co., Sanitas Brewing Co., Boulder Beer and Bru). (Believe it or not, the Boulder Banditos running club linked together 11 breweries during one 8-mile run last winter.) About 15 miles north of town in Longmont, Shoes & Brews is a first-of-its-kind running store with 20 beer taps from Colorado breweries.

RELATED: Boulder, CO: A Running Mecca Out West

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