Category Archives: urban features

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

Red Rocks Canyon

Red Rocks Canyon was created from a mosaic of features that don’t typically scream “State Park destination!” It is a park built around the remnants of a rock quarry, landfill, illicit climbing walls and abandoned ranch sites that has somehow managed to evolve into one of the most scenic parks in the state. The Canyon is a Garden of the Gods in miniature version; a rougher, less traveled park without all of the over trafficked, McDonald’s fueled tourists that clog the Garden during the warm summer months.

Red Rocks is a great trail running destination; with all of the pine forests, sandstone formations and open meadows that the Garden has, without the paved roads and paths that created throngs of tourists. The formations here are not as dramatic, but they create multiple canyons that are easy to explore via the trails, and provide for some surprisingly dramatic scenery.

Generally the terrain from the parking lot slopes uphill, making runs here more climbing oriented. Due to the mishmash of ways in which the park was used before its birth, there are some oddities that occasionally pop up during runs. For instance, the graffiti filled cave off of the Red Rock Rim Trail that was a big party spot for local high school kids, the remnants of the old quarry where the rock has been removed in large blocks and the large methane vents dotting the meadow where the Hogback Valley Trail runs; vestiges of the landfill that decays slowly underneath the meadow.

One of the best features of this park is its access to the Intemann Trail and the Section 16 area, allowing you to expand your runs beyond the park and into the higher foothills of the Springs area. Currently a hot spot for runners, climbers and mountain bikers, Red Rocks is a great place to put in some miles, check out the views and enjoy the benefits of good urban planning, without RVs barreling towards you.

Trail map here (PDF version)

Distance: trail lengths vary. The longest, the Lion Trail, is 1.0 miles. Trails can easily be linked to create longer runs, and the park connects with Section 16 and the Intemann Trail; allowing for longer pieces.

Directions: From downtown Colorado Springs (W. Colorado Avenue at S. Cascade Avenue), take S. Cascade south to Cimmaron/Highway 24 and take a right, heading west. Take a left on Ridge Road and then a left on West High Street. The parking lot is on the right. From downtown Manitou Springs (Ruxton Ave and Manitou Avenue), take Manitou Ave. east towards Colorado Springs. Take the Highway 24 onramp towards the east (entrance is after the Sinclair gas station). Take a right on Ridge Road and a left on W. High Street toward the parking lot.


Filed under Cities and Towns, Colorado, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, routes, urban features

Forest Park – Portland, OR

As a rule, running in Portland during the rainy season will require that you get muddy. Very very muddy. And since Portland’s rainy season is fairly extended, embracing the idea of getting covered in mud every time you hit a trail is the best way to start enjoying Portland’s abundant running options.

Our nominee for “Muddiest Place in Portland Where Hot Girls Like to Run” is Forest Park, located in the hills west of downtown. The park is the “largest forested natural area within city limits” in the United States, which translates to a huge variety of running trails and multiple points of access throughout the western edge of Portland’s downtown; allowing you to run from Portland’s city core, to a quiet, verdant forest in less than 10 minutes. Because of the dense forest, and Portland’s abundant rain, the trail system in Forest Park gets muddy and stays muddy for a while, making for rather messy jaunts. Working through the mud is well worth the effort, as the trails here are some of the best and most scenic in Portland. For the most part, nothing in the park becomes too impassable; foot placement and a towel in the car are the keys.

The trails within Forest Park are almost all single track, and wind throughout more than 5,000 acres, making learning the trails a fairly difficult task. We have often started a run only to find ourselves inadvertently looping back to the same spots. The key to figuring out the trails is the Wildwood Trail, a 30 mile trail that runs the entire North to South length of the park. Most trails branch off of the Wildwood, making it a good foundation for extended loops. Another good foundation is Leif Erickson Drive, which is a intermittently paved road that runs north 11.2 miles from the Thurman Street entrance to its terminus at Germantown Road, paralleling the Wildwood Trail for much of its length.

Unfortunately our mapping abilities fail us in the dense forests, so until we are up an running with a more GPS centric method, we leave you with links to maps (bad maps – again, we apologize). We have, however, outlined the general park area and have provided links for maps and various trailhead/park entry points. There are parking lots near the entry points, however, during peak times (morning, late afternoon) they fill up fast, so be prepared to park in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Trail Maps:

Friends of Forest Park Maps (very basic)

Topo Map (giant PDF file)

Trailhead Map

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Filed under Cities and Towns, Oregon, Portland, routes, runs, urban features

Mount Sanitas

We here at TWW do not often recommend going from 0 to 60 in the first five minutes of a workout, but unfortunately for our legs there are just some routes that are worth destroying them for. We count Mount Sanitas among that group – a route that is completely unforgiving, but worth every second of leg pain.

Almost a Boulder version of the Incline, Mount Sanitas is essentially a steep hike that is variably runnable, winding up the rocky ridge Sanitas where it tops out about 1.4 miles in. The trail is well worn, with some sections cut directly into the rock ridge, making it an adventure in foot placement and pacing. The views along the way and at the top are some of the best you’ll find in the Boulder area, making the fact that you can’t feel your calves easier to accept.

One drawback; finding the way back down in order to make the run a loop is a bit confusing. The East Ridge trail winds down to the Sanitas Valley trail which we take back to the parking lot. The problem with the East Ridge trail is that it is not clearly marked. Our best advice is to follow the most worn path, and keep your eyes open for the random trail markers. Our map shows the Mount Sinatas trail, the route down via the East Ridge trail, and then the Sanitas Valley trail back to the parking lot. A more label intensive map can be found here.

Do it because: intense hike and workout only minutes from downtown Boulder. Great views of the Flatirons, the town and beyond. Lots of pretty people to ogle.

Distance: 1.4 miles to the summit, 3.0 miles roundtrip.

Directions: From 9th and Pearl Street, take Pearl Street west and take a right on 4th Street, a left on Spruce, and then another right on 4th. Take 4th north to Mapelton and take a left. There are lots on both the north and south sides of the street. Additionally, you can generally park on the road and walk up to the trailhead.

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Filed under Boulder, Cities and Towns, Colorado, endurance hikes, routes, urban features

Atwater Stairs

In my recent travels to Milwaukee, Wisconsin I have  joyfully discovered the abundance of great food and beer that the city has to offer. I have also discovered the need to be especially diligent about working out while here as pounds of cheese and fried food washed down with beer do not work wonders for the training regime or how I look in spandex. Fortunately, Milwaukee has the Atwater Stairs.

Located north of downtown Milaukee, on the shore of Lake Michigan, the Atwater stairs are composed of 6 sections of 20 or so wooden stairs running from the Atwater Beach up to Atwater Park. About 6 feet wide, these stairs are steeper and taller than the typical cement variety; requiring leaping almost more than running. In addition to the stairs, there is a paved path winding down to the beach, which allows you to take a break from the stairs when your knees feel like exploding. The park where the stairs are located allows for stunning views of Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee area shoreline, making this workout one of our favorites when visiting the city. Additionally, the stairs are close to our Lake Drive/Water Front Loop, and can be added in to break up a longer run in the area.

In the summer, when the stairs are the most crowded, the best time to do them are in the early morning or late afteroon hours. However, because the stairs are so wide there seldom a problem with people getting in your way. The Wisconsonites may look at you funny as you lap stairs while they down fried (fried!) cheese curds, but they’re always good about stepping to the side.

Do it because: intense stair workout, beautiful area, and a great way to enjoy the beach without having to get in the water.

Distance: Atwater Park is about 4 miles north of downtown Milwaukee.

Directions: From downtown Milwaukee (intersection of North Broadway and East Wisconsin Avenue), head east on E. Wisconsin toward N. Milwaukee St. Turn right at E. Mason Street and then make a slight right on to North Lincoln Memorial Drive. Turn right on Lake Drive/WI-32. The park will be on your right. There is usually plenty of parking along Lake Drive or in the nearby neighborhood streets.

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

The Incline

The Manitou Springs Incline is immediately apparent when driving into the hamlet of Manitou Springs, CO (home of witches, geode shops and Clayfest). It is a vertical scar up the front of Mt. Manitou, once hosting train tracks for a pulley-operated train car/tourist attraction. Summer floods sent boulders into the track more than a decade ago, resulting in the tracks being removed by the company that owns the land. In their graciousness the company left behind the railroad ties, essentially creating a huge StairMaster. A brutal, never-ending, incredibly steep StairMaster with lots of people that are ill prepared to climb it mixed with an equal number of incredibly fit and attractive people. Awesome, and good for Olympics training. Continue reading


Filed under Cities and Towns, Colorado, Colorado Springs, endurance hikes, Manitou Springs, routes, runs, urban features

UC Davis Arboretum

The beauty of college towns; pretty young things. Running is so much easier when the possibility of an attractive woman (or man – for the ladies) is always just around the corner. Combine that with progressive ideas, good food (usually), and lots of fun bars, and college towns have all of the makings of paradise.

A couple of weeks ago I visited a friend in Davis, CA, home of the esteemed University of California at Davis. Davis is a great college town; super bike friendly, lots of good looking people and usually tons of fun. It also has some great opportunities for getting out and about. Make sure to check out the University Arboretum: a “living museum” of plants and trees from the area. Shaped like a warped oval, the arboretum has a dirt path that runs most its entire length, occasionally popping you out onto the street before starting again. Although narrow in areas, the path provides a great run through some amazing greenery, and is adjacent to the UCD campus in case you want to add some co-ed sightings into your run.

An interactive map is here

Distance: the loop around the arboretum is 1.8 miles in length

Directions: the Arboretum is on the South side of the UC Davis Campus, between 113 (on the West end) and B Street (on the East end).
View UC Davis Arboretum-Davis, CA in a larger map

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