Boulder Trail Runners

This email list will be your best friend if you are into/want to get into trail running. The group organizes a slew of weekly runs that range in difficulty, length and commitment. To join, visit http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/BoulderTrailRunners/.

If the treadmill is your nemesis, and running around a track makes you feel too much like a hamster on a wheel, Colorado has a solution for that.

Run outside.

Boulder is home to some of the fastest runners around, and the gnarliest -- Boulderites have been known to blast up Mount Sanitas chasing speed records, cruise up Green Mountain a couple of times a day and participate in unsanctioned "races" from Chautauqua that include Flatirons scrambles.

But being a badass is not required. In fact, in trail running, "running" is very subjective: with the steep terrain around here, even the fast guys and gals hike, walk and scramble when necessary. No worries, friends. You've got this.

Some of the routes listed here are pretty big. You'll want to head out with water, food, warm clothing and probably your camera.

And definitely bring your sense of adventure.

Mount Sanitas

3.1 mile loop

Moderate to difficult

Though this loop is popular with hikers, it's a good place to test your mettle as a runner, too. The uphill section will leave you wheezing, but heading back down is a breeze, especially after you've checked out the breathtaking views of downtown Boulder and the Flatirons. This trailhead is just west of Fourth Street on Mapleton Avenue in Boulder.

Mesa Trail

Out-and back; 13.8 miles round trip

Moderate

This trail rolls through the meadows and foothills of Chatauqua Park, and connects with Eldorado Canyon Road. The best part about Mesa Trail is that there's shade when you need it in warmer weather and sun where you need it in cold. It's super close to Boulder, so you really have no excuse to get out and tear up some trail.

Kathleen Ebert returns from a run at Chautauqua Park.
Kathleen Ebert returns from a run at Chautauqua Park. ( Zak Wood )

Pawnee-Buchanan

26-mile loop

Very difficult

Holy trail marathon, Batman. This one might be something to aspire to -- perhaps after four years of running with Boulder's best.

This trail is a conglomeration of a few trails within Brainard Lake Recreation Area, so it's a high-country trail for sure. In fact, it'll close for the fall soon, so either acclimate and go or dream of it all winter and hit it up in June.

Start at the end of Brainard Lake Road at the Mitchell Lake Trailhead. You'll run counterclockwise over Buchanan Pass first, then over the Pawnee Pass and back down to the lake road. It's a bit of a drive to get to this loop, so pack plenty of food, water and warm clothing and get to running before the sun rises.

Teller Farms -- East Boulder Trail

Out-and-back; 12 miles round trip

Easy

Celebrate the beauty of flat trail running on this mellow jaunt through rolling hills and golden prairie. Catch the trailhead on Arapahoe Road between 75th and 95th streets. You'll run by Teller Lake, which is full of ducks (cute) and other water fowl. You can also see bald eagles along this trail from time to time during the year. And with it's sunny, quiet trails, this could be your go-to place in the winter.

High Lonesome Loop

15-mile loop

Difficult

This is one of the more popular trail runs among Boulder's most hardcore runners, so try hitting it up on a week day. This one is up high, too, so do it before the winter snows.

Start from the Hessie Trailhead head west on the Devil's Thumb Trail. Descend to meet the High Lonesome trail and head south. Turn east on King Lake trail before heading back to the trailhead (you can also run it clockwise by reversing these directions). You'll climb around 3,000 feet and see for miles from the Continental Divide.

--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.