The Switzerland Trail is a lightly trafficked dirt road that connects the small community of Sugarloaf with Peak-to-Peak Highway. Because it once served as a railroad path, the bulk of the road is flat, wide, gradually climbing up to 9,000 ft. over 12.5 miles. There are dozens of side trails along the way, along with mining ruins, open views and even a few backcountry camp spots. Cars and ATVs are allowed on the road but tend to appear in sparse numbers, even on busy weekends. The Switzerland Trail is especially inviting to runners since it's in the "sweet spot" for high-altitude training -- all over 7,500 feet above sea level.
What Makes It Great
Most runners enjoy out-and-back runs starting from the Sugarloaf Mountain trailhead. Running west, there are fantastic views of the Indian Peaks while returning east showcases the cities of Boulder and Denver sprawling out onto the Great Plains. In the autumn, golden aspen trees line the corridor, creating a magical ambiance that feels far away from the city. Exploring the side trails and offshoot forest service roads offers some real variety for those looking for more rugged terrain. The one-mile trail up 8,917 ft. Sugarloaf Mountain is a nice add-on for runners hoping to a get a little more vertical in their day.
Who is Going to Love It
Runners of all levels can enjoy the Switzerland Trail. It's only about 7 miles from downtown Boulder -- about a 15 minute drive. Many marathon runners train on the full length of the road; it's 25 miles out and back. More adventurous runners will love all the little secrets - from ghost towns to graveyards - that can be found off the side trails (just be sure not to wander onto marked private land).
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From downtown Boulder, head west on CO 119 towards Nederland. Approximately 4.5 miles after you have left Boulder, turn right onto Sugarloaf Road. Sugarloaf Road will climb steeply, then gradually "flatten", then begin to climb again. At this point Sugarloaf is plainly visible from the road. 4 miles after the turn from CO 119, turn right onto Sugarloaf Mountain road (located near top of the road). If the road starts descending, you've gone too far. Take the twisting, steep, dirt Sugarloaf Mountain Road 1 mile to the large parking area for the Switzerland Trail.
From this parking area, Sugarloaf Mountain is to the east, forest service roads to the north and the Switzerland Trail itself to the west.