Tag Archives: trail runs

Christmas Morning on the Incline: an adventure in snow hiking.

Before we delved into the presents, food and general laziness of Christmas morning, my brother and I headed up to the Incline for a quick early morning workout. The Incline is generally full of icy patches and packed snow from late November until April, and hiking it becomes almost more about foot placement than conditioning. Thankfully, and pretty late to the game, we have discovered Yaktrax which make hiking this thing much more manageable. Starting the day by hiking 2000 feet while the sun is rising is a great start to Christmas mornings. Check out our gallery below for a glimpse into how the Incline will look for the next few months.

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Filed under articles, Cities and Towns, Colorado, Manitou Springs

TWW Daily Feed for November 30th

Happy Monday everyone! I hope that the long Thanksgiving weekend treated you well. Mine involved a lot of bonding time with friends, some intense food, drink and exercise action and numerous moments of questioning my masculinity as I ordered yet more spiced pumpkin lattes from Starbucks. The highlights from our holiday week:

1) Doing the Incline at night: very peaceful, great views of the city, numerous scary moments of almost tumbling back down the face.

2) Putting in a 12+ mile run that involved numerous sections of ice and several near trail derailment slips (the loop is fantastic, but I suggest going the opposite for a more intense run).

3) My friends calling my youngest, 6’6″ 250 pound brother “Shrek” and “The Ogre” all weekend “Fe fi fo fum!!”

4) Snowboarding at Breckenridge on Friday. The snow wasn’t that great, but it was awesome to be back on the board.

5) Our good friend Craig venturing beyond his Boulder/Denver bubble to pay a little visit. We marked the date down. Doubtful it will happen again in our lifetimes.

6) The Trinity Brewery Winter Beer Tapping. Great event and fantastic beer. For some inexplicable reason I’m in love with one of the treadlocked bartenders there. Don’t judge me.

7) Casey, while we were out on the town, finding a rose on the floor of the bar and doing a little jig which somehow led to him giving the rose to a woman and striking up a little conversation.

8) Capping the weekend off with a good loop in Red Rocks Canyon, followed up by, what else, a spiced pumpkin latte.

One for the record books boys! The Feed:

I thought this was an interesting article about approaches to opening a microbrewery during a recession, and how the business model is evolving away from trying to ship your beer all over the place. A pretty cool look at brewery startups.

Garmin-Slipstream has acquired a new sponsor; Transitions Optical (the people that make lenses that change tint levels based on the conditions). What happened to Chipotle? I somehow missed that they aren’t one of the big sponsors anymore. Maybe the team managers realized that jamming huge burritos into their riders made for some pretty funky training rides together.

An interesting piece about whether stretching is really necessary. Studies are showing that the most efficient runners are those who have the least amount of flexibility relative to other runners at their level. I love this study for the simple fact that it alleviates my guilt over never stretching.

It’s about freaking time Denver. Finally a light rail to the airport! I swear to God if this doesn’t go through I’m moving to Portland. What’s that? You don’t want to lose me? I know, I know. That was a little harsh. I’m sorry. C’mere baby.

NatGeo Adventure has been running these “best new trips in the world” features, and finally they have some based in America, and the Western part no-less. Check out biking, hiking and kayaking in the Bitterroot Mountains and camping and biking in Colorado’s Hovenweep National Monument near the Four Corners area.

A great article from Adventure Life about why the U.S. Skiing Hall of Fame is out of touch with the sport and its culture. Worth a read.

Alright everyone, off to the wilderness of the working world. Hope everyone is having a great, albeit lethargic, Monday. See you tomorrow.

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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.

View Waldo Canyon – Manitou Springs, CO in a larger map

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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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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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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.

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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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