Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Trailing Running Near Ft. Carson

3 – 6 March 2014

I went down to Ft. Carson this week to take the combat lifesaver course. Since there was no organized physical training to do in the morning, I got to do my own. So I was very happy when, in my research I found that there was a state park right outside of the main gate to Ft. Carson: Cheyenne Mountain State Park. The website claimed it had 20 miles of trails. And it was less than a 10-minute drive from the barracks we were staying in. Game on.

Cheyenne Mountain from the Soaring Kestral Trail
Navigating the Park

I was pleased to see that the park’s trails were well marked with color coded signs about six inches off the ground. Since the trails are windy and numerous, this was useful for orienteering in a new place.

Equally useful were the park map signs with the “you are here arrows”.

Got a little snow this morning
General Conditions

The trails themselves were fairly non-technical. On a hot summer day this could be a rough pace to run as there is little shade on the lower sections. As you climb though you get into some nice scrub oak and pinion pine. While you do not actually climb Cheyenne Mountain in the park or any truly steep trails, you are generally going up or down the whole time.

The trails are sadly off limits to dogs, but not to mountain bikes. Fortunately, the dog was at home and I generally ran outside of the popular mountain biking times.

After running about 90% of the trails my favorites were:

Talon – a nice moderate climb with some nice loops in the shade with Talon North and South.
Cougar’s Shadow – Just technical enough to keep the bikes at bay and through some nice woods.
Blackmere Loop – Nice big winding loop through the woods.

Top of the Blackmer Trail
My runs

~6.5 miles, 1300 vertical

The first day on post our training got done around 4:30 in the afternoon. I rushed out to find the park and get in some miles before the sunlight died out. The sun was already setting behind the park’s namesake mountain when I arrived at the Limekin Grove Trailhead Lot (38.731398° -104.820775°).

The Talon trail starts off open, wide with a low grade. At the intersection with the Sundance trail the grade picked up. It started traversing more and getting into some nice scrub oak and pines. I did the South Talon trail and headed back down. When I hit the Sundance Trail again I went east to get back to the start.

~8 miles, 1400 vertical

Today I started from the vistor’s center (38.734966° -104.819361°). I started off with a semi-open loop of the Zook (Blue), Sundance (Red) and Turkey Trot Trails. Then I went up the Limekin Valley and came back down the Boulder Run trail. This was a nice single track trail that was a little more technical than the others I had done thus far.

~10 miles, 1600 vertical

The Couger's Shadow and upper Blackmer Loop trails run and wind through some of the prettier woods in the park. There was a light snow this morning. The upper portions of the Blackmer Trail and Couger's Shadow do some nice woodline contour traverses.

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