Thursday, May 14, 2009

Early Season High Altitude Trail Running: Rollins Pass Road

We went up to see how the trails were melting out and how the high-altitude running was shaping up for the season. Although it is a little early, along the Colorado front range there are some spots that melt out early and allow you to get in some excellent high-altitude running.
Snow blocking access to the road
We thought we would check out the Tolland Road (also called Mammoth Gulch Road), as that is often melted out early and allows for some good elevation gain: going from ~10,000 up to ~12,00 at Kingston Peak. However, there was still a little too much snow to get any real distance in, so we opted for Plan B: Rollins Pass Road.

Now, this is usually not my favorite, as high clearance cars are allowed to drive on this in the summer (although there are several spots now that require 4-wheel drive to navigate), but we wanted to get in some high-altitude miles on our legs and lungs. Luckily, the road was still blocked at the beginning by a huge snowbank, so there was no one on it.
Tara running Rollins Pass road for Colorado altitude training
The road gently climbs for around 10 miles one way, allowing you to really put in some good distance above 10,000 feet. Currently there are two large snow sections that you have to cross, but otherwise the running was dry and clear.

Often overlooked, Rollins Pass Road is one of the better early season mountain training spots along the Boulder front range area. Close to town, good distances, nice altitude, and fabulous views make this spot an excellent place to get in some early season high-altitude miles. We put in 15+ miles above 10,000 feet. Just warming up for another summer mountain running season.
Beautiful Rollins Pass valley in Colorado

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