Trail Running in February!

It hasn’t been snowing here much lately, so I’ve been trying to find other things to do. The trails up here are all snowpacked and crusty so they aren’t very conducive for running. So naturally my thoughts wander to the front range, where it’s always balmy and there’s never much snow.

Come to find out, it snowed almost a foot in the last couple of days in the Denver area. But, I was still unimpressed with the snow up in the high country, so Matt and I slept in today and then headed down to Golden mid morning. A few days ago I had looked up trails in Golden, and found the Chimney Gulch Trail at Windy Saddle Park just to the west of Golden. It looked like a perfect hill climb with a nice run down, so we went for it.

Shea and I looking up at the trail ahead. Photo: Matt Coye

We parked at the pull off at around 11 or so and headed up the trail. It was a little muddy and a little snowy but definitely still runable. The first part was flat, and then we hit some steep switch backs which eventually lead to some longer switchbacks. The climb overall was moderate and both Matt and I felt great for not having run on any hills since November.

Almost halfway up, a beautiful view of Denver.
Dashing through the snow…. Photo: Matt Coye

We got to the top of the saddle after running through a snowy wooded section and realized why the park is called windy saddle. The wind was howling and very brisk! We stopped at the pull off in the saddle and decided what to do next. We could run up to top of the ridge on the north side which looked relatively dry, or run up to the top of lookout mountain which looked very snowy. We opted for the north side and ran up a steep hill to the highest point on the ridge.

Highway 6 in clear creek canyon is the road way down there.
Highway 6 in clear creek canyon is the road way down there.

From the top we had a beautiful view of Denver to the east, clear creek below us to the west, and mountains on either side to the north and south. It was beautiful and not as windy at the top surprisingly. We took some photos, drank some water and headed back down.

Matt having lots of fun running and jumping down the trail!
Running over this cool snowy bridge on the way down. Photo: Matt Coye

Running down was a lot of fun! The snow was grippy and not an issue and we both felt great and ran quickly all the way back down to the car. I’m very glad we decided to go on a trail run today. My serious training for Squamish 50k starts in March, and today was a great day to remind me how excited I am for running season!