Depending on who you talk to whether it be a city dweller or suburbanite the definition of a “trail run” can sound quite different. Does a flat gravel trail winding through a city park for example “count” as a trail run?
In my definition there are several distinctive factors that determine whether or not you are a true trail runner, take the test below to find out where you stand and then check out our tips for finding new trails and terrain appropriate trails for your fitness and comfort level below:
1. Are you in nature?
On a true trail, you should be surrounded by a variety of flora and fauna
2. Are there rocks?
There may be rocks surrounding the trail and definitely medium sized rocks in the trail
3. Are there hills?
4. Can you go more than 5 minutes without seeing another person?
5. Is there a risk of encountering dangerous wildlife?
And no, your grumpy neighbor and his ill behaved canine does not count.
6. Is there a chance you could get really muddy or wet (like from a creek crossing)?
—-> If you answered yes to more than half of these questions, congratulations! You’ve found yourself a trail.
If not then you may find yourself asking:
How do you find a “real” trail?
What are the best trails in the front range for trail running if you are just starting out?
Well to start, my favorite app to find a trail close by is the Trail Run Project. It will not only help you to discover new trails and park systems in your area but also rates and allows user reviews of the trails. The app ranks all trails like ski hills (this isn’t anything new, many park systems around the country have been doing this for years):
= Less strenuous, mild grades and relatively smooth terrain. Best trails for beginner trail runners to practice their skills!
= Trails with various grades and sections with rockier, uneven terrain. More switchbacks and some exposure possible. Blue trails are a lot of fun as they give you some technical practice and a good overall workout!
= Steep grades, very rocky terrain, uneven and lose sand and rock, sections with exposure very likely. Even veteran trail runners will be power hiking sections of these trails!
I live southwest of Denver and so I frequently visit the Jefferson County Open Space website. They have a vast system of parks, probably more than any other county in front range Colorado. Check out a map of all of their park systems HERE and trail difficulty rankings HERE.
If you are new to trail running, check out the post I wrote with my trail recommendations for beginner trail runners HERE.
Now, time to hit the trails!