An Arctic Ascent
Contrary to reasoning, you don't have to stop running the trails in Rocky Mountain National Park when the snow flies from winter through late spring. You just have to wear different equipment. Enhance your traction by adding ice spikes or other devices that give you more grip. And choose your trails wisely, in winter, the trees in the park are laden with snow; it looks like someone has slapped icing in their branches.
One of the beauties of trail running stems from the inherent variety-in surface, in trails, in habitat. Even if you run the same trail, there's inevitably something new to see are those that move through different settings and elevation changes. For example, a trail might start in an open meadow, climb into a forest and open into a clearing. The national park offers plenty of those, which at lower altitudes make for good winter and spring trail running. Here are a couple places he recommends to check out again and again. After all, when running, a trail is never the same twice.
Black Canyon Trail: The beginning of this out-and-back, 5-mile run from the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead can get icy (wear protective footwear) due to some sheltering from incredible rock formations, but the rest is largely exposed. With snowcover, the perched and balanced rocks take on a whole other look-enough to make you pause and wonder "How did that rock end up there?" The narrow trail continues through woodlands, up a short climb where you're greeted with views of a snow-drenched Continental Divide.
Moraine Park: In winter and spring this area is good because runners experience a mixture of road and trail. Plus, much of it is exposed, so the snow melts more quickly. A local favorite, stems from the Cub Lake Trailhead. Run to Cub Lake, then pick up the dirt road to Fern Lake. Part of the road is closed in winter, making it safe to run. Pass some aspen groves dripping with icicles. In total, this run totals about six miles roundtrip.
For information on trail running in Estes Park, including outfitters and guides, visit the Outdoor Adventures section.
For information on trail running in the Estes Park area, including outfitters and guided excursions, visit the Outdoor Adventures section. For current trail conditions and more information on trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, please visit NPS.gov/ROMO.