Trail running is fun and adventurous, takes us to places near and far, sometimes new and unfamiliar, other times takes us back to where we "find that happy place". Living in Colorado allows runners, hikers, walkers, bikers and those who just want to get outside and enjoy the sights and scenes - a seemingly endless amount of trails and places to run.
I'm a bit of a creature of habit, sort of settle for comfort in my surroundings and do what I am familiar with - when it comes to running, but also with other things as well.
For running on trails - I like to run where I am familiar with the trail, so I know what to expect, how long it is from point "a" to point "b" etc. As a result - despite living near so many different trails and places to run, I stick to just a few.
Those are (in no particular order): Barr Trail, Waldo Canyon, Santa Fe Trail, Greenland Trail, Spruce Mountain - these are the places I run most often. There's a few other places and trails I occasionally go to - but not many.
This week, in a truly adventurous attempt at, gasp, trying something new - I ran on 2 different trails that I have not been on before.
Wednesday - Stratton Open Space is near where my firstborn has soccer practice. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my Garmin to keep track of how long and where I went. I did print the map out and carried it with me - so I sort of knew where I wanted to go. Parking at the trailhead at Cheyenne Mtn High school there was a map also - was a little different than the one I had printed out. The online map seemed less complete than the trailhead map. No big deal as there seems like a lot of trails are not on any map.
I set off, did carry my phone with me so I would at least be able to keep track of time. In the little bit of online research I did, I learnt that the area was popular w/ Mtn Bikers and Dog walkers, I also learnt that the "locals" called the area "SOS", which was fitting - cause I have no idea where I went, how far I went to go where I didn't know where I was, or what trails I was on during the hour I was on the trails.
But it was fun, kind of nice to just go for a run on a trail to see where it went, take some twists, some turns, some uphills, some downhills, at no great pace and with no great purpose. Saw a lot of bikers, some runners, some walkers, plenty of dogs, made it up to Gold Camp Rd, ran past a couple of reservoirs. Ran for an hour, guessing somewhere between 5 to 7 miles. If I go back there I may be able to retrace my steps to track the distance - but don't really feel the need to. A nice run, a little crowded in places.
Thursday - during another kids soccer practice - parked at Black Forest Regional Park where I have run several times before - and meandered around the trails there and found where they joined into the Cathedral Pines trails. I have not run in there before.
Did a 4.6 mile loop of Cathedral Pines which is a nice double track trail that has some rollers, some good views of Pikes Peak and the Front Range and also goes through a lot of pines - it is after all, Black Forest. The trail is nice to run on, it is a little sandy in a few places.
It does cross over a few roads - unfortunately the road crossings are not well marked in places and the trail does not start up directly on the other side of the road - so, at a couple of the road crossings I did make a few wrong turns trying to find the trail, but eventually figured out my error, turned around and then found the trail again. There are signs on the trail, at the intersections of other trails that cut through the neighborhood - however, on the main loop, the connectors crossing the roads are not easily identified.
One thing about the trail - it is not well used. On the 4.6 mile loop (called Pikes Peak Loop) I only came across 1 other person (Mtn Biker) and 1 wild Poodle. Okay so the Poodle wasn't wild - he just came out from one of the houses to say hi.
7.3 miles on the day and 650 feet elevation gain - could have made it shorter or longer depending on which set of trails through Black Forest Park to get to Cathedral Pines. Was definitely a nice run, one that could get added to the short list.