Words and photos by professional runner, Neely Spence Gracey. Neely is an American long-distance runner who competes in distances from 5000 meters to the marathon. She lives and trains in Boulder, Co.
If you’re a runner, there is nowhere in the USA like Boulder, Colorado. Nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder sits at 5,400ft above sea level and is a runner’s mecca. Hundreds of miles of trails, dirt roads, and cinder paths have been tread upon by pros, locals, and tourists alike. You will find it difficult to run solo for long!
Running brought me to Colorado as a kid when my dad was training for the Olympics. We lived in Boulder off and on until I was seven, and then moved permanently back to Pennsylvania upon my dad’s retirement from pro running. In college, two of my teammates and I came out to Boulder to house sit and try out altitude training. My husband (boyfriend at the time) surprised me with a visit, and we both fell in love with the area. Low humidity, sunshine, endless running venues, nice people, so much to do… we couldn’t get enough. We came back every year thereafter for a training stint and agreed that when the stars aligned, we would become Boulderites.
In 2015, my husband landed a job in Denver. We dropped everything and moved to start the life we had always envisioned. It’s the best thing we have ever done. I transitioned from track and shorter road races to the Half and Full Marathons and my career progressed. We bought a house, got a dog, and started adulting. My biggest fear was that once I lived in Boulder, I would no longer have the appreciation for how magical the mountains look each day. But after 3 plus years of being a resident, I can happily say, that it never gets old. I wish you a wonderful time in this beautiful place I call home.
Chautauqua – Endless trails for however short/long you desire. If you’re looking iconic boulder, this is the trail for you. Don’t forget to take your camera! If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even run up the path to the base of each Flatiron! Plan accordingly, because it gets very crowded and parking is limited. In the summertime, there is a bus system if you want to go up on the weekends. Stop by the café afterward for some tasty food and to admire the views.
Use this 5-Mile route created with the FASTZach App to explore the Chautauqua trails.
Doudy Draw – 7mile loop with a variety of footing and landscape. Starting just before the base of Eldorado Canyon, Doudy Draw provides a little bit of everything. Dirt trail in the prairie, switchbacks up the mountain, dirt roads, rocks, and nice views of the canyon. My all-time favorite run in Boulder. After you’ve had your fill, stop by Eldorado pool for a quick swim to cool off in the crisp spring water.
Use this 8-Mile route created with the FASTZach App to explore Doudy Draw.
Magnolia – 8.5miles out, 17 miles total. This road is home to the infamous long run spot from Running with the Buffaloes. Driving up the Boulder Canyon, you will find Magnolia road on the left. Take it to the top, until the road turns to dirt. There is a pull off for parking. The run starts down a giant hill that, (lucky you) get to finish going up! Around 8,600ft elevation, and constant hills, there is no such thing as an easy run on Mags. Stop by Nederland for a coffee afterwards and to see a small Colorado mountain town.
Use this 20-Mile route created with the FASTZach App to explore Magnolia.
Boulder Res – 2-20miles with free parking at Tom Watson Park. There are bathrooms to use before you get started. Follow the trail to the left of the lake and then hug the edge until it opens up to a wide path. From there, you go straight towards the foothills onto dirt roads for as long as you want to go out before turning around and following your same route back to the beginning. If you do this route on Sunday morning, you will cross paths with hundreds of runners and cyclists. Complete your run with a day pass to the Boulder Reservoir for some beach time and a swim.
Use this 6-Mile route created with the FASTZach App to explore the Boulder Reservoir.
Davidson Mesa 5k loops – The best views of Boulder County. Park at Harper Lake in Louisville, and run under the bridge. The trail around Davidson Mesa is 5k. Be sure to take your phone and snap pictures of the Flatirons, Boulder, and the back range. Grab a craft brew coffee at Precision Pours Coffeehouse and tell the Barista how far you ran for 25c off per 30minutes!
Bobolink – 3.5mi out, 7mi total. A great trail for an easy run. Flat, peaceful along the stream, and somewhat shady for hot days. Park at the Cherryvale/Baseline trailhead, and run south. Follow the stream the whole way. Finish up with some recovery by wading in the cool creek for a natural ice bath.