A Quick and Dirty Guide to Road Running in Denver

The road running scene in Denver deserves a cheer, indeed.
The road running scene in Denver deserves a cheer, indeed. Sean Klein
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With beautiful weather year-round and trails that poke into nearly every corner of the city, Denver is an outstanding place for runners. Indeed, the Mile High City also is full of miles of great options, starting with the multi-use paths that stretch through the heart of town, providing easy launching points from just about anywhere. Or head to one of the city’s beautiful urban parks, where after just a few steps, your cares melt away as you lose yourself in the methodical pacing of your feet. Lace up your shoes for a quick jaunt before or after work, or head out on marathon training run—it’s all here for the taking.

Here, a quick and dirty guide to road running in Denver, full of favorite running spots in the Mile High City.

Cherry Creek Trail

The Cherry Creek Trail is a multi-use trail that runs for about 40 miles.
The Cherry Creek Trail is a multi-use trail that runs for about 40 miles. Shannon

A journey along the Cherry Creek Trail , a paved multi-use path that stretches for 40 miles from Confluence Park all the way to Cherry Creek Reservoir, has to be one of the nicest semi-urban runs in the country. You can hop on this trail anywhere along Cherry Creek, but one of the best places to start is at the Starbucks/REI at Confluence Park. You can easily ride or drive there, and it's a convenient place to meet people. Just cross over the bridge and pick up the Cherry Creek Trail going east. This will give you a great tour of downtown and of some of Denver's nicest neighborhoods.

On Wednesday nights during the summer, you'll encounter Denver's weekly Cruiser Ride, one of the largest and longest-running social bike rides in the country. So if you're a runner, avoid hitting the trail at this time.

South Platte River Trail

Confluence Park is a great place to start your run along the South Platte River Trail.
Confluence Park is a great place to start your run along the South Platte River Trail. Ken Lund

The Platte River Trail is a well-developed and well-maintained urban trail that stretches for 28.5 miles along the Platte River, from Henderson in the north to Chatfield Reservoir in the south. Confluence Park is a great place to do some warm-up stretches and get started. No matter the time of year or day, this is an ideal running environment. For best results, head south on the trail since the north section is a less maintained and can get somewhat unsavory.

City Park

Denver's City Park is a must-do for any runner.
Denver's City Park is a must-do for any runner. Health Alseike

City Park is a must-do in Denver, especially in running shoes. Miles of paved sidewalks and paths meander among ponds and giant trees, creating a welcome respite from the city.

To get there, head down 17th street out of downtown—you’ll run right into it. It doesn’t matter where you park. Just turn into the park, staying alert for one-way roads and parking restrictions, and hop on the outside sidewalk route wherever you can. Circumnavigate the park for the most continuous miles, or criss-cross it for a full tour.

Washington Park

Wash Park, as it's known locally, features flat stretches and beautifully manicured gardens.
Wash Park, as it's known locally, features flat stretches and beautifully manicured gardens. Bradley Gordon

Since the 1970s, runners have been flocking to Washington Park , or Wash Park as it’s affectionately known. This might be the nicest park in Denver, with options of friendly, flat paved sidewalks and dirt footpaths that meander past green fields, a flowing creek, and two ponds. The external loop is approximately 2.5 miles. Piece together as long a run as you like, and cap it off by banging out some pull-ups on outdoor exercise equipment and then stretching out on the grass.

Sloan Lake

The Sloan Lake path and park might be the best thing going for runners west of town. For those in the Highlands area and the Sloan Lake neighborhood, this is the go-to spot. If you’ve already explored the grand semi-urban parks and paths east of Denver, you’re ready to venture slightly farther and check out this suburban respite.

Sloan Lake an ideal spot for any kind of runner, from those who want to walk or jog to those who want to bring along the canine or baby stroller. Enjoy views of the mountains and surroundings along the 2.5-mile loop, which is almost completely flat.

Cheesman Park

Cheesman Park is a go-to spot for Denver runners.
Cheesman Park is a go-to spot for Denver runners. David Shankbone

Centrally located, Cheesman Park is another one of the great urban running locations in Denver. It’s easy to get to from anywhere in the city and boasts beautiful grounds and great views of the city and surrounding mountains. Dirt footpaths and paved sidewalks circumnavigate the park in a 1.5-mile loop, with gentle hills and shading trees.

Parking at Cheesman can be challenging because the Capitol Hill neighborhood is already congested with cars. The park’s small parking lot is often full, but you can usually find a spot on the circular drive.

Resources

Events: BolderBOULDER , Cherry Creek Sneak , Colfax Marathon , Denver Rock ’n Roll Marathon
Organizations: Colorado Frontrunners , Colorado Runs, Highlands Ranch Running Club , Rocky Mountain Road Runners
Retailers: Newton Running Lab , Runners Roost ,

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