Distance: 14.65 miles - SSP to Crystal Park Road 1.5, Intemann 2.8, Sect 16 4.6, Top 5.85, High Drive 8.36, Asphault 9.1, Sect 16 9.33, Intmn 10.1, Crs Prk Rd 11.9, Man Ave 13.4, SSP 14.65
Loop: 5.5 miles
High Point: 7,845'
Total Gain/Loss: 3,114'
By Matt Carpenter
We first ran this as a club run in June of 2002 when Pike National Forest and most of the other area trails were closed due the potential for fire because of the extreme drought conditions. Turns out it was a great run with some relly awesome views! It has quite a bit of climbing and although it does not go very high it has as much total gain and loss as our LRR run. It is a long one however and in the summer it can get very hot!
Section 1: The Road
From Soda Springs Park head east on Canyon Avenue and turn left onto Lovers Lane along the creek. When you reach El Paso Blvd at Memorial Park turn left and continue east. After 9/10ths of a mile on El Paso Blvd turn right on Buena Vista Blvd just before the Highway 24 bridge.
Cross over Manitou Avenue and in the SW corner of the intersection look for the small short steep path leading up to the open gate in the fence. You will now be on Old Crystal Park Road which will connect into Crystal Park Road after a block. Turn left on Crystal Park Road and take it uphill until a few hundred yards before the gate for the Crystal Park.
Section 2: Intemann Trail
You will turn left off of Crystal Park Road at the well marked Intemann Trailhead. Almost immediately there is a nicely constructed foot bridge. A few short steep switch-backs later you will find yourself on a rolling trail with some great views. Just follow the Intemann Trail until it intersects with Section 16. Along the way there are a few smaller trails off of the main trail but if you always take the main trail you will be fine.
Section 4: Red Rocks Loop
We have been doing the loop counter clockwise so that we get a steep uphill and a long gentle downhill. At the top of the steep climb take a right. The left is just a short out and back to a very nice overlook. After some rolling traversing to the high point of the run you will come to what is called the Palmer Trail off to the right. Do not take the trail as it heads off to private land. Instead continue left and begin some of the most awesome gentle downhill running around! Dont forget to check out the city down below. As you approach High Drive the trail forks in two. Both trails go to High Drive but the left is a couple of hundred yards shorter:-)
Note: Of course you can run the loop in the clockwise direction and some do in fact prefer the long gentle climb with a quad busting descent. However the trick for doing the loop in this direction is paying attention as you run up High Drive 3/4 of a mile so that you can make the right hand turn onto the loop. Several have missed it and ended up on Bear Creek Trail which as you may know is a MUCH longer run!
Section 5: High Drive
When you get to High Drive (a dirt road) turn left and downhill. Enjoy the view!
Section 6: Gold Camp Road
When you get back to asphalt you will have 3 choices! Take the LEFT up to the Section 16 trailhead or else you will have a very long run back to Manitou!
Section 7: Section 16
Take the Section 16 trail watching to stay on the main trail on not one of several smaller trails that go off to the right. In no time you will be back at the intersection of the Intemann Trail. Turn right!
Section 8: Return via Intemann
On the way back as you climb up a very steep section near the water tank overlook pay attention and take the left at the top of the hill! You probably did not even see this trail on the way in but it has caught many people off guard on the way out and they ended up in the sub division down below the trail.
Section 9: Return via the Roads
In general it is not a good time to hammer the downhill on the asphalt. Instead practice running smooth and controlled. We like to take Manitou Avenue back so that we can time our Ruxton split from the PPA/M start. This is a good indication of your correct split because you are doing it at the end of the run and not starting out fresh and excited.
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