Three Things Thursday: My Favorite Places to Run in Denver


A little slice of heaven right outside of Denver.
A little slice of heaven right outside of Denver.


I'm often asked by mother runners headed to my city for business or vacation for good places to run in Denver. Here are my top three (mostly) traffic-free spots to run in Denver. Bonus: on each of them, getting lost is pretty tough, as you can easily run them as out and backs.

The Highline Canal. It's a 66-mile beast, so I've only run it point-to-point about eight times. Kidding. It's easily accessible through many points of the city and suburbs, and is a mostly gravel path with very little elevation change. (Read; the only elevation you have to worry about is the 5,280-feet of Denver.)

The Bear Creek Trail in Lair o' the Bear Park. This out-and-back trail run, which can be as long as 12.6 miles, is like many trail runs in the metro Denver area: starts out with a long climb, then rolls into rolling hills. The bad news is that the first few miles are a grind—and it's often easier to run/hike them—but the good news is that you get all that luscious downhill on the way home. (Also, this trail is a favorite of mountain bikers, so if you want solitude, go early.)

The Cherry Creek Trail. Truth be told, this path isn't my favorite, but that's only because it's concrete and my knees moan and groan after a few miles. Otherwise, I love it: the Creek is always flowing—I heart running near water—and because it's a popular bike commuter and dog walking route, there's plenty of distracting people watching. The 12-mile path runs through downtown, so if you're staying near the conference center, it's super accessible to run—and then grab a coffee or breakfast post-run.

If you're a Denver local, where are your favorite spots? 

10 responses to “Three Things Thursday: My Favorite Places to Run in Denver

  1. I love the 17th Avenue Parkway, because it’s shady, and right outside my house (I am a lazy runner). When I’m feeling less lazy, I take it to and around City Park — nice dirt trails, you run by a lake and the zoo, and it’s quiet.

  2. Westerly Creek trail in Stapleton is nice–makes you feel briefly like you are out on the trails every though you are right in Denver. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  3. I am not a Denver local, and when I visit we do not rent a car. That makes Cherry Creek great, because it is accessible by foot from anywhere downtown. But another gem is the rooftop joggin track at the Grand Hyatt. It’s 12 laps to the mile, so not perfect, but the views are outstanding.

  4. The Bear Creek Trail from Denver to Bear Creek Lake Park–It’s mostly flat/rolling and there are opportunities for bathroom stops and water refills every few miles or so. There are lots of stretches of trees, so it can be nice and cool in the morning.

    Mary Carter Greenway from the BCT to Chatfield State Park–While it doesn’t offer much sun protection (it’s all pretty exposed), you get to run along the river pretty much the whole way, and there are chances for bathrooms and water along the way (sensing a theme here?). Hudson Gardens makes a great stop–actual bathrooms with soap and running water!

  5. I love the Platte, as well as Waterton Canyon or the trails that head south out of Chatfield State Park near the Gravel Pond. The Highline is awesome, too, as well as Green Mountain and Red Rocks Park. I biked Lair of the Bear years ago and never thought to run there. I think I may have to this fall. The leaves are beautiful up there once they start changing. The options are endless here and I feel so lucky!

  6. My go to is the Platte River Trail which has a gravel path for about 5 miles on the southern part starting at C470. It goes all the way into downtown to connect up with the Cherry Creek path if you want a long bike ride! It also connects up with Chatfield Trail systems on the southern side. For runnable trails, I love Green Mountain, Deer Creek, Hildebrand, and South Valley Park to list a few.

  7. Willow Creek Running trail in Centennial is my go-to as it runs through my neighborhood and connects you to the Highline Canal or with Sweetwater Park in Parker.

  8. Sloan’s Lake is nice, though on the short side. But it’s a great place to meet friends and then stop by the Starbucks on the west side of the lake after a run.

    Clear Creek has become a favorite for long runs (or shorter rides). There’s not a lot of access to water along the way, but it’s super cool to run into that section of downtown Golden and stop in the library for restrooms and a water refill. It’s really nice to run along the creek there too.

    I really like Big Dry Creek in Westminster, which runs from Standley Lake northeast for a long while. Bonus: there are water fountains in many of the parks along the way, along with portapotties which is great for a long run. Westminster overall has a great trail system, so it’s easy to connect from trail to trail and go forever.

    Another new favorite is Chimney Gulch, which runs from Hwy 6 up Lookout Mountain to the visitor center.

    And then there are all the trails in Boulder that I haven’t explored yet. I ran Green Mountain a month ago with some friends, but we mostly ran it in the dark (said friends had grand ideas about running up to the top to watch a meteor shower). I’m looking forward to running it in the light, hopefully sometime this month.

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