Sunday, October 26, 2008

The perfect trail running route in South Boulder

Just when I thought this weekend couldn't get any better (clear, crisp fall weather; parents visiting so great restaurants and outings; first Avery Brewing Company experience), I found a running route that is as close to ideal as I can imagine.


  • It has a mix of surfaces (wide dirt roads for low-impact pounding, narrow rocky trails for billy-goat practice, a tiny stretch of pavement for good measure)
  • It has great views of the Flatirons and Eldorado Canyon
  • It's literally right out my front door
  • It has a healthy dose of climbs and descents, but neither are knee-breaking or quad-busting because they are on mesas, not mountains
  • It links together several trails, so it goes past four (!!!) trailheads, which means four chances for a mid-run bathroom break (if needed)
  • There are lots of people around so I don't feel like I'm going to get eaten by a mountain lion
  • It's just a hair under 7 miles, which is a versatile distance for medium training days--it's also very easy to add on mileage to this loop

Just in case anyone reading this lives in Boulder (or is planning on visiting Boulder), I'll give a brief description of it:
  1. Start at the Marshall Mesa Trailhead (on Eldorado Springs Drive east of Hwy 93) and head west on the Coal Seam Trail and climb up the mesa
  2. When you hit Hwy 93, cross over and continue onto the Community Ditch Trail and ease into a long, gradual descent on a wide dirt road
  3. Turn right onto the Doudy Daw (I think?) Trail when you drop into a creek bed (if you miss it, just take any of the surrounding trails down to the Eldorado Springs Drive, where there is a parking lot and another trailhead)
  4. Cross Eldorado Springs Drive to the Mesa Trailhead (South). Start climbing the Mesa Trail
  5. Turn left onto the South Boulder Creek Trail after about 3/4 of a mile. Here it gets a little rocky, but it's downhill
  6. Follow the South Boulder Creek Trail all the way to the trailhead on Hwy 93. Cross over and run back to the Marshall Mesa Trailhead

That's how I ran it today, but there is ONE thing I think would have made it more perfect (yes, I know you can't improve on perfection--but I'm gonna try):

Starting at either the Doudy Daw (I really just wanted to type that name again because it cracks me up--what is the origin of it? I wish it was spelled Dowdy Daw...) or Mesa Trailhead (South), do the loop in the same direction (clockwise) but run the Mesa Trail segment first. That way, the rocky, slow-ish descent is part of the warm up (unless you have injury prone ankles, in which case you might want to be warm when you run the South Boulder Creek section), and you get to finish ripping down the Community Ditch Trail with some speed.

I've become a big fan of slipping some speed at the end of workouts (even if just 5-10 minutes), so this would be an ideal way to do that. Plus, you get to look at Eldorado Canyon as you stride to the finish.

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1 comment:

Lara said...

I run these trails and totally agree that this run is a great one. It's totally versatile. My Saturday Morning running group heads to these trailheads often, and we mix it up a lot. If you want even more of a workout, head north on the Mesa trail to North Fork, go down North Fork until it meets up with South Fork, and then head back to the Mesa Trail.