Best Colorado races for new trail runners

We are fortunate to live in a state with so many beautiful trails and a myriad of trail races to choose from.   If you are new to the state or just getting into trail running and looking to take on your first trail race, choosing the best one compatible with your fitness and ability level can be a daunting task.

So we’ve made it easy for you!!    We handpicked the best trail races suitable for beginner to intermediate trail runners in the front range and central mountains.   We didn’t include races in Colorado Springs, the Western slope or southwest Colorado so feel free to share your favorites in these ares in the comments section below.

Happy training!

Elk Meadow trail race, June 3rd 2017:

  • Includes a 5k and 10k option

The trails at Elk Meadow park are relatively tame and any climbing is done gradually through a series of switchbacks winding through the thick evergreen forests.  The 5k course will mainly keep runners along the base of Bergen peak where you will run through beautiful open meadows filled with yellow and green grasses and wildflowers.  The elevation here is the greatest challenge so make sure those lungs are ready for the higher altitude (around 8000 feet)

Learn more HERE. 


Xterra Phillip S Miller Park,  August 6th 2017

  • Includes a 5k/10k and 20k course options.

The 5k course contains just 300 feet of climbing, enjoy rolling hills with short climbs and quick descents, perfect practice for those new to the trails.   The trails are smooth and wind through bushes and brush with occasional scenic views of Pikes Peak and Castle Rock.
There is plenty to do for the entire family at this venue post run.  The Philip S. Miller Park’s outdoor space includes a playground with 60-foot slide, a 200-step challenge staircase, a turf field, and the Headrush Towers—40-foot and 80-foot towers that kids can climb up, repel down, or even free fall from.

Learn more HERE.

Meyers Ranch Trail race, August 5th

The Meyer Ranch 5 mile trail race near Conifer, CO is another one perfect for beginner trail runners.  The 5 mile course will take you through beautiful pine and aspen groves and winding single track trails to the top of the park.   Although the climb is gradual make sure to work on your fitness for long ascents/descents and be prepared for the thinner air as this run tops out at 8600 feet.

Learn more HERE. 

Endurance race series Beaver Creek trail race, August 13th 2017:

  • Includes a Half Marathon, 10k and 5k options

This course in the heart of the rocky mountains entails great single track and dirt road trail running through groves of bright green aspen trees and fields of wildflowers.  There is a moderate amount of climbing with a total elevation gain of 700′ for the 10K, and 400′ for the 5K.  The event partners with the Beaver Creek Wine and Spirits Festival, so even more cause for celebration after you conquer this course.  Run runners over the age of 21 will receive a FREE custom branded wine glass with their registration and wine and beer tastings.

Learn more HERE. 

Endurance Race series Snow Mountain Ranch trail race, September 23rd 2017:

  • Includes a Half Marathon, 10k and 5k options

No better time to see Granby, CO than in the Fall!   This event will keep the runners surrounded by the changing colors and falling leaves and the sudo-flat course can be deceiving, but voted “Most Beautilful” on the ERS schedule.

If you are just starting to trail for a longer trail race, keep this event on your radar!

If you dont know where the YMCA of the Rockies is located, then you are missing out on one of Colorado’s hidden gems. Located 14 miles North of Winter Park, the Ranch offers more trails than anywhere else in Colorado. A full service resort includes mountain biking, a pool, horseback riding, fishing, archery, mini-golf, zip lining and more activities to create an exciting weekend for everyone in a beautiful mountain setting

Learn more  HERE. 

Xterra Golden Gate Canyon trail race, September 24th 2017:

  • Includes 7k and 20k options

The course is stunning, with single track running through alpine meadows, pine forests, and golden aspens during peak fall colors, plus amazing views of the continental divide.

This event is more appropriate for the intermediate trail runner: someone who has spent a little time on the trails and has been working on their climbing skills, there is some elevation change and technical terrain.

The 7K trail course will take runners through Aspen shaded trails, Willow, Adler, and Blue Spruce trees with an elevation gain of 980 feet, with altitude beginning at 7720 feet.

If you have your sights on a tough trail event, this would be the one to consider.   You have plenty of time to train!
Learn more HERE. 

Bear Chase trail races, October 1st 2017:

  • 10k, half marathon and ultramarathon distances included

This event combines a variety of distance events at Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood, CO.    The 10k course includes rolling hills, single track trails through woods and open meadows, mostly smooth, rock free trails with minimal climbing and depending on the year possible creek crossings!  This course is fast, fun and so close to Denver!

Learn more HERE. 

Trail relay events:


Ragnar Trail relay,  June 9-10th 2017:

This epic event in Snowmass CO is an adventurous introduction to a trail relay event through beautiful single track terrain through the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

The 24 hour relay entails team of 8 taking turns running loops on the mountain trails through lush forests, fields of wildflowers and epic views.  The loops range from just 3-6 miles that are minimally technical with small elevation changes.   Between laps, enjoy smores by the campfire, take a nap, grab a brew, catch a movie and enjoy the camaraderie of new friends in the camp.

Learn more HERE.

Chase the Moon Endurance run, July 7-8th 2017

This is another perfect run to get your feet wet in a relay style event and close to Denver too.  Form a team of 5 friends and take turns running 8.5 or 3.5 mile loops in this 12 hour, overnight event, under the full moon!   Want more mileage?   Go for the 3 person relay or attempt the challenge solo!

Runners will follow a beautiful, rolling race course in the Highlands Ranch Backcountry Wilderness area. The 10.3 mile loop is 98% dirt trails with approx. 1,300 feet of elevation gain per lap, minimal technical difficulty, and wide-open and exposed views… Perfect for a race at night!

Learn more HERE.

Training programs and groups:

Looking for some help training or want the camaraderie of training in a group?   Check out some of the local options below!

Denver Trail runners:
Local co-ed group that meets weekly at different trails across the front range for social trail runs

Life’s 2 Short Fitness women’s training group
Weekly coached runs at trails across the front range to train for a summer trail race

Happy Trails Run Club:
Led by the folks over at Runners Roost, this social group meets monthly at different trails for a variety of distances/levels.  They typically invite out a shoe, gear or apparel company to demo products too.

Women’s Beginner trail running course:
6 week program that includes coached runs and clinics with expert guest speakers

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