Monday, June 20, 2011

COS Bravado

Colorado Springs has the best trail system in the United States.

There.  I said it.

With all due respect to those who reside in Boulder, Ft. Collins, Flagstaff, Bend, and Eugene...I just don't see how it could get any better than what we've got down here in southern Colorado.  

Let me clarify - I don't care about bike trails.  Sure, those are nice.  I'm not talking about rugged jeep roads.  They're better than pavement.  I'm talking about ribbons and ribbons of singletrack, snaking for miles in every mountainous direction for what seems like infinity.  Another disclaimer - you better like to climb.  There's no getting around that down here.

Why this sudden burst of bravado for my hometown?  I went for an easy couple-hour run yesterday and linked up portions of numerous trails - Seven Bridges to Pipeline to Jones Park to Buckhorn to Captain Jack's to Columbine - and realized just how little of the surface I scratched even on this 10 mile loop.  When Brownie hosted the Ponderous Posterior, out-of-towners got to see a slice of what COS has to offer in Williams, Waldo, Barr, Longs Ranch, Intemann, and Red Rocks.  That's great and all...but there is a much more extensive web of amazing singletrack just to the southwest that went untouched.  When the missing link is built, the possibilities will go from limitless to...uhm, well, beyond limitless?

Runners World seems to think that places like Central Park are where it's at.  Riiight.  THIS is more like it.

Along the lines of whatever comes up comes out...


  1. Sean, I would have to agree with that statement. I have been in Colorado for about 10 months now and still haven't run all the trails here yet. Would love to run that 10 mile loop with you. I have not been on those trails at all and need a tour guide. Let me know if Thursday or Friday morning would work for you if you don't mind.

  2. Certainly better than the Boulder options from the little I have seen.

  3. Tony has raved about this to me on many occasions. Not to mention it would be pretty sweet to have 7,815 of vertical up a 14er, literally out the back door.

  4. Yeah, as Jeff said, I've made my feelings pretty vocal about this. I've grown to really really like the steep and technical nature of the Boulder peaks' trails (Barr honestly is a flat carpet in comparison) but the variety, access to altitude, and sheer volume of single track in COS is pretty much without peer. Also, I suppose the Incline can satisfy any jonesing for unreasonably steep terrain.

    I layed out the Ponderous course back in January with the specific intent of showcasing some non-Barr COS beauties, but the snow that time of year makes it difficult to access the truly great stuff in the Bear Creek and Cheyenne Creek watersheds (especially above Jones Park/Pipeline).

    If/when I ever make it back to live in Manitou I think I'll become a frequent maintainer of the Cameron's Cone route--steep as hell, and nary a person on it.

    Of the other towns you mentioned, Eugene and Bend are laughably poor on trails--Eugene itself has almost none. You better like to drive to trails if you live there.

    Ashland, OR is incredible in terms of volume and access, just a step below COS. I just don't like trees that much and could use a little more sun.

    Bozeman is very very good if you're willing to drive 5-20min in any direction to get across the valley to the base of the mountains (I'm simply not). But, their trails really are open only 3 months or so out of the year (SNOW).

    Flagstaff is the closest I've seen in terms of matching COS, but all of these places aren't the large urban center--with the attendant economy/job opportunities--of COS. Plus, COS has the best (mildest) 4-season climate in the country.

    I think the only other true "city" with the kind of access that COS has is likely L.A. (maybe Salt Lake, haven't explored enough)...but, then you have to live in L.A...

    Oh yeah, last crazy thing about COS: you can run from downtown to the mountains on dirt the entire way (save a few yards here and there). My standard LT100 training run used to be to run from CC (downtown COS) to the summit of Pikes Peak and back with less than a mile on pavement the entire way. Same thing with Almagre/Rosa to the southwest. And like you mentioned Sean, once the missing link is put in over the next year or so an awesome traverse of Pikes/Almagre/Rosa will be possible--something I dreamed about the whole time I lived there.

    Dammit, there I went raving again. :-)