There are so many ways to get your heart pumping and cardio train when it’s summer in Colorado that it’s hard to decide on just one activity to do. The good news is there’s no need to pick just one because we pulled together an entire list of some of our favorite places to cardio train and enjoy summer in Colorado when we’re outside the Pilates studio.
High Line Canal Trail
A favorite biking trail for those in the Denver metro area is the High Line Canal Trail. The path has paved and unpaved areas that span 71 miles on the southeastern portion of the Denver area. It’s a pleasant meandering trail lined with cottonwoods that travels through neighborhoods, open spaces, golf courses, commercial districts and points of interest including Audubon Center at Chatfield and Chatfield State Park. Several other trails connect to the High Line Canal so there are plenty of options so you won’t get bored.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Even though Red Rocks’ claim to fame is for being an amazing live music venue, it has become a very popular site for runners and those looking to get a challenging cardio workout in at 6,400 feet in elevation. There are two trails that surround the amphitheatre that are great for hiking, but the 380 stairs in the amphitheatre are guaranteed to take your breath away just as much as the view. Every fall, Run the Rocks offers a 5K and 10K race voted one of “the best Colorado road races and fun races” by the Denver Post and raises funds for the American Lung Association.
Inclines: Castle Rock and Manitou Springs
Just south of Denver in Castle Rock, the Challenge Hill at Philip S. Miller Park features 200 steps that climb 178 feet in elevation. Once you scale the steps, you can run or walk a meandering dirt path down and do it all over again. Once you tire of climbing, the park itself has 7.4 miles of single-track trails that cover the 300-acre site. A bit farther south in Manitou Springs, you can really test your cardio at the Manitou Incline that gains more than 2,000 feet of elevation in less than one mile. The trail is 3.6 miles and you will definitely get a good workout—start out early, bring lots of water and take breaks as you need them because this one is challenging for all!
There’s no entrance fee to access Waterton Canyon, and although you could continue on to the 486-mile Colorado Trail all the way to Durango, most hikers and bikers follow the 6 ½-mile dirt trail to the Strontia Springs Dam and then turn around to complete a 13-mile round-trip. You do need to leave your furry friends at home, but that’s to protect the wildlife. Instead you might share your workout with bighorn sheep, mule deer, more than 40 species of birds and yes, the occasional rattlesnake or beer. The views and the bubbling stream that accompanies your journey up the path are extraordinary.
Certainly a quintessential Colorado summer experience is to climb a 14er, one of Colorado’s 58 peaks that rise at least 14,000 feet or even a 13er, the state has 700 peaks that are 13,000-13,999 feet. Colorado has the most fourteeners of any state so there is something for everyone from easier (none would be classified as easy) Mt. Bierstadt to very difficult—Capitol Peak, Little Bear, Sunlight Peak. At the summit of any of these, you will be rewarded for your efforts over 8 to 12 hours with breathtaking views. Be sure to keep in mind the effects of altitude—it can affect anybody even high-performance athletes. You should drink plenty of water, take your time and take it easy, and be sure to tell someone if you’re not feeling well. The only way to overcome altitude sickness is to descend.
Cardio training is an important element to a healthy lifestyle and in Colorado there’s no need to do it all on the treadmill. We encourage you to get 150 minutes of cardio training in per week outside your Pilates sessions, Functional Fitness and Oov Classes. If you have questions about how best to complement your Pilates practice with cardio training, please call or text Taylor Pilates and Fitness at 303-472-6743 to schedule a session.
What would you add to our list of cardio training options in Colorado?