Category Archives: runs

NCAR Climb

We briefly wrote about the NCAR Climb, located in Boulder, CO, in our route guide of the NCAR/Eldorado Canyon Loop, but this one deserves a guide of it’s own. Its a good, quick climb that is great for hill intervals or just as a warmup or cool down piece.

The NCAR Climb generally begins at the intersection of Table Mesa Drive and Lehigh Street, in South Boulder. From the intersection, the route begins a moderate climb up Table Mesa Drive as it cuts northwest through a neighborhood before it turns into Ncar Road. After the ride passes the neighborhood the climb becomes less steep and maintains a fairly consistent grade to the summit. The Ncar Road portion of the climb winds through a wide meadow and along the foothills of the Flatirons, providing for a lot of great views of the mountains and the plains that surround Boulder.

At the top of the climb is the National Center for Atmospheric Research building (hence NCAR), which is where we turn around and head back down (the road dead ends, you have no choice). The descent is one of the fastest and most fun in Boulder, with one straight section that provides for a lot of efforts at obtaining top end speeds on the bike. Once we hit the Table Mesa/Lehigh intersection we either turn to head back home, or continue on to the longer loops in the area, such as the El Dorado Canyon Loop mentioned above. This route is also a great place to log some miles and hill work in the running shoes.

Do it because: it’s quick, accessible and provides a good hill workout and a great place for intervals. The descent is incredibly fun and the views are great.

Distance: 1.8 miles for the climb (starting from the intersection of Table Mesa and Lehigh). It’s about a 11.4 mile roundtrip if starting in downtown Boulder (at the intersection of Pearl Street and 9th)

Directions: From the intersection of Pearl Street and 9th, head south on 9th and hop on the Boulder Creek Bike Path and take it East. At the Broadway spur head south on Broadway and remain on the bike path which will eventually take you all the way to the intersection of Broadway and Table Mesa Drive (make sure to check out our map). Take a right on Table Mesa (there is a bike lane) and continue on. The climb starts at the intersection of Table Mesa and Lehigh Street.

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The Waldo Canyon Run

Waldo Canyon is located West of Manitou Springs, in the foothills of Pikes Peak. The canyon contains one of the more challenging trail runs in the area. The trail’s long climbs and overall altitude gain have the Waldo Canyon run a popular training route for those preparing for the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon.

The overall setup of the trail resembles a big lollipop. The first section is about 2 miles long, winding up the hillsides before entering the actual canyon. This first section is pretty gradual, winding mostly uphill until the last 1/2 mile, where the route descends to an open meadow. About 100 yards past the meadow, the trail splits, forming a 3.5 mile loop (there is an obvious sign). To the left the trail winds up a narrow canyon, following a creek. To the right, the trail climbs steeply up a number of switchbacks, cresting numerous times onto ridges before eventually dropping into the canyon with the creek.

I have run the route counterclockwise, which starts with a series of steep switchbacks before leveling out as the trail runs along two ridges and then eventually starts winding downhill. It looks like either way is equally difficult as both require steep climbs right at the beginning. Regardless of which way you take, the views within the loop are amazing; canyon walls, Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods and Red Rocks Canyon are all within sight.

The trails is fairly heavily populated, but it seems like most people stop at the meadow and avoid the loop. The trail is dog friendly too. Waldo is my new favorite run in this part of Colorado, one that definitely makes it easy to come back for more.

Map with elevation profile and terrain details.

Do it because: great views of Pikes Peak and the surrounding area, a challenging trail run with a good mix of climbs, flats and descents

Distance: 6.85 miles round trip: 1.69 to the beginning of the loop, 3.47 for the loop, 1.69 miles back to the trailhead.

Directions: From downtown Manitou, head West on Highway 24 for about 2 miles. The parking lot and trailhead is on the right. Watch for a sign on the right hand side of the Highway that indicates a trail is ahead.

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Golden Leaf Half Marathon

The Golden Leaf Half Marathon embodies everything we look for in a race: it’s challenging, it is well organized, it has a great goody bag, it showcases the best attributes of a town and the scenery is unbelievable. Aspen is a town that is often overwhelmed by its money and mystique, hiding the vibrant locals scene beneath the fur, expensive ski equipment and ridiculous cars that the seasonal residents rock. The Golden Leaf is great because its during the off season, when the locals come out to play and Aspen seems more like a real town instead of the land that rich people built. The best part of the race is the completely local vibe that permeates the whole event. Aspenites hand out the timing chips, man the water stations and dot the course to cheer everyone on. The finish line is a party where Aspen residents come to hang out with the runners, eat lunch and celebrate the race and the fall season. Once the sun sets the bars start packing with race participants and locals, making the whole day one large celebration of running that the whole town gets in to. Very, very fun. Continue reading

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Lake Drive Loop

The Wisconsin State Fair is so known for its “food on a stick” stands that local newspapers publish lists of what, and where, you can find, among others, burgers on a stick, fried bananas on a stick, meatballs on a stick, deep fried Snickers bars on a stick and cheesecake on a stick. And let’s not forget our favorite; bacon dipped in chocolate. On a stick. If you’ve ever wanted to eat more than 4000 calories in less then 10 minutes or shock yourself into getting motivated to workout the Wisconsin State Fair is the place for you.

Unfortunately the Fair is not the place to advance your conditioning, so to counteract the effects of the chocolate bacon we suggest a run along the the Lake Drive Loop; a scenic and fast route on Milwaukee’s Eastside that spends most of its time winding along the shore of Lake Michigan and through some of the most architecturally stunning neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

Lake Drive is where old Milwaukee money moved to escape the urban center; building huge and gorgeous homes on the bluffs that overlook the Lake. This setting forms the backbone of the run; which starts at Alterra at the Lake and heads South toward the Milwaukee Art Museum and downtown before turning north into Milwaukee’s hip Eastside and the Lake Drive neighborhoods. The run then turns back south and down to the lakeshore for a couple of miles before returning to the coffee house.

Although this run is relatively flat it stands out for a number of reasons; there are an abundance of long stair cases that can provide some cross-training options, among them the Atwater Stairs which can be reached via a 2 mile out and back. The architecture along the route is truly some of the most stunning of any city we’ve run in, and the Lake Michigan setting provides cooler temperatures and draws some of Milwaukee’s fit and active pretty young things, further enhancing the scenery. The route is also good for interval work, as the long and flat stretches provide an ideal environment for speed work. And best of all, the run starts and ends at Alterra at the Lake, our favorite Milwaukee coffee shop/recovery zone. Perfect for recovering from chocolate bacon on a stick.

Do it because: the great scenery, the cross-training options, the coffee and the fast route

Distance: 6.25 miles round trip.

Directions: from Alterra at the Lake (corner of Park Road and North Lincoln Memorial Drive) and head South (toward downtown Milwaukee) along the sidewalk. The sidewalk will end, but there is a short dirt path that heads up to paved trail. Continue to head south on the trail which will bring you to the Art Museum and North Prospect Ave. Head North (away from downtown) on Prospect which will wind past upscale condo highrises and into Milwaukee’s East Side.

At East Lafayette Place take a right and head toward the Lake. East Lafayette turns into North Terrace Ave, which heads North past the Watertower. At the Watertower, cross Park and continue to head North on North Wahl Ave., which intersects with Lake Drive. Continue North on Lake Drive until it intersects with North Lincoln Memorial Drive. From there head down the hill, toward the Lake and take North Lincoln back to the coffee shop.

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Filed under Cities and Towns, Milwaukee, routes, runs, urban features, Wisconsin

Siamese Twin/Balanced Rock Loop

The trails that run through the Garden of the Gods Park weave, meander and intersect to create an elaborate network that is can be difficult navigate, especially when running. The Siamese Twin/Balanced Rock Loop is TWW’s effort to provide a baseline trail run that you can build off and explore from. Continue reading

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Garden of the Gods

We here at TWW try to avoid writing about obvious features in an effort to avoid putting more people into already crowded parks and recreating areas. The gigantic redstone formations that jut from the ground in shark like fashion make the Garden of the Gods hard to miss. But the park is such a scenic and accessible place to run and ride that ignoring it eliminates one of the best places to get outside in the Manitou/Colorado Springs area.

First, the bad. This park is a hotspot for RVs, families, slow walkers, motorcycles, and photographers. They clog the roadways, they meander down the trails and they add traffic and noise to a pristine environment that is better enjoyed with minimal noise pollution. On top of that are the horse tours that bring their mounts through some of the trails and liberally deposit fertilizer within sneaker striking distance.

However, there is good. Thanks to the deluge of tourists in the area, and the need to maintain the park’s geographic features, the city undertook a project that rerouted the roads, eliminating the ability of cars to drive through the park’s middle and regulating traffic to a loop that winds around the perimeter of the park, leaving the more pristine areas of the park inaccessible via car. The roadways are smooth, incredibly wide and run in only one direction around the park, cutting down on cross traffic and reducing car speed. The center of the park, its most scenically striking area and once a car thoroughfare, has been reclaimed and now sports numerous trails. Additionally, most tourists stick close to the roadways and parking lots, leaving a lot of the trails empty. And parking here is abundant, with each lot allowing easy access to the trails that ring the park.

For runners, the park sports a number of dirt trails that are mostly rolling, winding through low foothills and open meadows, with everyone allowing views of the park, the mountains to the West, and Pikes Peak. The trails are well marked and hard packed, and generally well maintained. Running along the road is another good option, as the roadway’s bike lane is wide enough for both runners and cyclists. The loop here is not long enough for a good ride, but the park is a great way to start or end a longer cycling loop. Some of the hills in the park are steep enough for climbing intervals, allowing for a tortuous, yet scenic, workout.

The Garden’s location makes it easy to loop it into longer runs or rides in the area. Check out the Intemann Trail/Red Rocks Canyon Loop and the Cheyenne Canyon Loop for routes that run through or near the park, and run our Siamese Twins Loop to explore some of the Garden’s hidden formations.  The park’s location, and perhaps one of its best features, is its location near Manitou Springs and the West Side of Colorado Springs, making a long run followed up by a cold beer possible without hopping in a car, or RV.

Trail Map here (PDF) and here (also PDF).
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Intemann Trail / Red Rock Park Loop – Manitou Springs, CO

This route reflects our attempt to link Manitou’s Intemann Trail with Red Rock Canyon, the latest addition to Colorado’s State Park System. Due to a break in the Intemman Trail near the Manitou Springs High School, this route is composed of a mix of road and trail running, resulting in a twisting route that sometimes feels unnecessarily long, but provides some of the best views and trail running the in Manitou/Colorado Springs area.

The run starts on Manitou Avenue’s intersection with Ruxton Ave., where it heads west up Ruxton, turns on Spring Street and heads up a fairly steep, but short, climb on to the Intemann Trail. The Intemann runs east along the foothills south of Manitou until it ends at the Manitou Springs Cemetery. Due to some property/easement issues which prevents a continuation of the trail through the cemetery, the trail picks up again near the Crystal Park neighborhood entrance, requiring a long stretch of road running between the cemetery and the next trailhead. From the Crystal Park trailhead, the Intemann begins its climb into the Red Rock Canyon area, passing a variety of red sandstone formations before intersecting with a connecting trail leading down into the Canyon (the spur is clearly marked). The Intemann varies in width; from singletrack to car lane. Be careful on the spur between Crystal Park and Red Rock Canyon, it’s a popular section for mountain bikers.

Red Rock Canyon provides multiple options for working your through its environs. Part of the fun of the park is exploring its nooks and crannies, so please use our route as a rough guide, our path is but one of many to be taken. Because the park is so new many of the “trails” have yet to be marked, but the cororallary is that the park itself has fewer crowds, allowing for more serene runs than the Garden of the Gods can provide. The views of the park, above and from within, are incredibly beautiful, and make the numb feeling in your toes worth it. There are few places in the Springs area that provide such accessible, dramatic views.

The return route to Manitou consists of side roads back to downtown, passing near the Garden of the Gods, allowing for an extended loop if your legs are up for more work. Make sure to check out the new creek path near the Highway 24 overpass when running west on El Paso Boulevard. The path will dump you out near the Briahurst Manor, allowing you to take Manitou Avenue back into downtown Manitou, where food and recovery beer abound.

Distance: 11 miles round trip

Directions: Starting at the intersection of Manitou Avenue and Ruxton Avenue, run up Ruxton towards the Cog Railroad Depot and take a left on Spring Street (a dirt road, about 1/4 of a mile from the intersection). Once on Spring Street the road will head uphill with a spur taking a hairpin right, continuing uphill. Take the spur which will bring you to the chained entrance to Intemann Trail. Continue uphill where the trail will eventually level off and begin a slow descent to Pawnee Ave where it will end.

Once on Pawnee, head downhill and take a right on Fairmont Avenue. Take Fairmont until it dead ends, at which you can access a short spur of the Intemann trail that will put you on to Delaware Road. Head east on Delaware Road until it dead ends. At the dead end is where the Intemann picks up again, bringing you through a small playground and gradually winding uphill toward the Manitou Springs Middle School. Near the Middle School the trail will take a sharp right and head downhill. Continue on until you you are above the Manitou Springs High School, where the trail will again head downhill and deposit you in the Manitou Springs Cemetery.

Run downhill to exit the cemetery, which will deposit you on to Plainview Place. Continue downhill, where the road will veer right and eventually intersect with Poplar Place. A left on Poplar deposits you on to Crystal Park Road. Take a right on Crystal Park Road (heading east) and run 1.5 miles up to the next Intemann Trail trailhead (there will be a sign on the left). Be careful on this segment; there are no sidewalks, and a few blind corners. Thankfully traffic is usually light.

Once back on the Intemann, the trail will head east, winding above the Crystal Hills neighborhood. About 1.15 miles from the Crystal Park Road entrance, the trail will intersect with an access trail for Red Rocks Park. Take this access trail, winding down toward Red Rocks Park, where the trail will eventually intersect with a much wider path. There are a variety of ways to wind down through the park, so definitely explore.

After reaching the park’s parking lot, cross Highway 24 and West Colorado Ave via Ridge Road. At West Pikes Peak Ave. take a left and run to the intersection with Columbia Road, where you want to take a right and then your first left on to El Paso Boulevard. El Paso will take you all the way back into Manitou. Our route uses a new path that starts near the Manitou Springs Skate Park and runs behind the pool along Fountain Creek until it ends at the Briarhurst Manor. From there, continue West back in to downtown Manitou.

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