Trail Tuesday: 3 awesome trails near Downtown Boulder
The Trail Tuesday featured trail is in partnership with the Trail Run Project.
While lingering snow and spring run-off in the high country mean that many of the trails in the mountains aren’t yet in their prime, that shouldn’t stop you from taking advantage of some of these running trails located 5 to 15 minutes from downtown Boulder. With the recent sunny days and warm temps, these running trails are in excellent condition, and you can enjoy the wildflowers while still working up a sweat. Featuring tough climbs, rewarding views, and some slightly more technical sections to prep you for the upcoming summer of trail running, both of these loops have something for everyone.
Sunshine to Lions Lair Loop
The initial climb up Sunshine Canyon is a great warm-up for Lion’s Lair. The climb is steady but not difficult as you ascend the backside of Mount Sanitas on well-groomed, sweeping switchbacks. There are some stone steps and steeper sections to get your heart pumping, but overall, the trail is very runnable. Once at the top, enjoy the view back down to Boulder. The descent on the Mount Sanitas Trail will give you a taste of some rocky, technical sections that are good practice and easy enough to navigate with some patience.
- Distance: 5.3 miles
- Rated: Beginner/Intermediate
- Highest Point: 6,802′
- Average-Max Grade: 9-33%
- Total Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,302′ /-1,302′
- Singletrack: 100%
- Runnable: 79%
Note: Lion’s Lair trail is closed to dogs.
Lion’s Lair details
Photos of the Lions Lair Loop
A popular mountain bike destination, it is recommended that you run this trail on either Wednesday or Saturdays when the trail is closed to mountain bikers. You can run here any day of the week, just be prepared for bike traffic on the other days. The trails at Betasso will definitely give you a taste of the high country as they roll through forests of ponderosa pine and evergreens. The singletrack is mostly smooth with a few rocky sections, and while the climbs can feel long, they are not steep and will help you build aerobic endurance for the next set of trails we have coming your way!
- Distance: 6.7 miles
- Rated: Beginner/Intermediate
- Highest Point: 6,582′
- Average-Max Grade: 5-14%
- Total Elevation Gain/Loss: 848′ /-848′
- Singletrack: 90%
- Runnable: 100%
Betasso Preserve Route Details
Photos of Betasso Preserve
Flagstaff Mountain provides a ton of trail running variety right from Downtown Boulder. Easily accessible from the west end of town, the area provides plenty of singletrack, vertical climbing, views, shade and protection from the elements on hot or windy days.
From downtown Boulder you can take the Boulder Creek path up to Ebin G. Fine park, wind up to Arapahoe and find the trailhead just up a dirt road off the end of 3rd street. Start at the Viewpoint Trail that leads up the north side of Flagstaff Mtn. You will be quickly rewarded with views of Red Rocks and Sanitas and the Boulder valley to the north, before joining up with the Panorama Point, a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. Cross the road to the West and start climbing up Panorama connector trail to where it joins the Flagstaff Trail. From here you will have several options. You can take the Flagstaff Trail back down into Chautauqua or continue up. At the climbing rocks you can descend along the Crown Rock trail into Gregory Canyon and back to Chautauqua, or make it all the way to the summit, making a loop on Range View and Ute trails before descending back down the Flagstaff Trail into downtown. With so many trail options from the summit its easy to add on an make this as long as you need. Its even part of the popular and local epic, the Boulder Skyline Traverse, 16 miles over the main 5 front range peaks.
Photos of Flagstaff Mountain