Run the Rockies: Best Trails in Rocky Mountain NP

The must-run trails in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Jesse Weber




Colorado’s mountains are a giant playground for trail runners, with quality trails and worthy challenges all over the state. You don’t have to enter Rocky Mountain National Park to get an inspiring run in the Rockies, but the trails here are simply legendary. If you seek to add national park trails to your running repertoire, Rocky Mountain is not to be missed.

With iconic names like Longs Peak, Lumpy Ridge, Twin Sisters, and the Continental Divide Trail, the park is an undisputed mecca for trail runners. Of course, its extreme popularity with all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts means that some areas get quite busy. The good news is, as a runner, you shouldn’t have an issue going faster and farther to escape the crowds. Just get as early of a start as possible to avoid congestion around the trailheads. If you want to go for speed, and not worry about slowing down for hikers, weekdays during the off seasons are your best chances for wide-open trails.

So, while it’s true that the park’s popularity can be a downside for runners, that’s no reason to skip over this unbeatable destination. There’s no better place in Colorado for a wealth of foot-travel-only trails, with short and long-distance backcountry routes, and uninterrupted miles along the Continental Divide.


Cub Lake Loop

Run alongside meadows, creeks, and a subalpine lake on this nicely-varied loop.

Deer Mountain

A trail running favorite, at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Lumpy Ridge Loop

The well-known mountain run around and over Lumpy Ridge, just inside the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Twin Sisters

Estes Park’s must-run mountain, for the slightly masochistic.

Ouzel Falls and Bluebird Lake

Up and up through some of the park’s wildest backcountry, passing waterfalls and lakes, and leaving the crowds far behind.

CCY Route

High-altitude traverse of Chapin, Chiquita, and Ypsilon Peaks.