2016 Summer Journal

Springtime Run in the Winter Park

Spring is an incredible time in the mountains, where the snow begins to melt and greenery shows itself for the first time since Fall. Although the official season of Spring lasts for three whole months, in the mountains the transition from Winter to Summer happens much more quickly. Our visit to Winter Park in early June was perfectly timed to witness the explosion of Spring in the valley and the more gradual transition in the higher country. Every day, as we climbed up toward the snow covered peaks, we were able to make a little more progress on trails exposed by quickly melting snow, seeing new patches of green grass sprout up along the way.

During that week our friend Brooks, who is prepping for the 50 mile Silver Rush trail race in Leadville, came up to visit and do some training at elevation. The city of Winter Park sits at just over 9,000 feet and the trails only go up from there, which makes it a perfect place to train for Leadville races where runners rarely, if ever, dip below 10,000 feet.

Brooks and I planned a 4 hour trail run that would take us from the Winter Park Resort, up towards Rogers Pass, down into Fraser, and then back along Corona Pass Road to the resort again. We set out from the resort around 8am, crossed the road, and started climbing. Almost immediately, we were feeling the burn in our legs from our previous day at Winter Park’s Trestle Bike Park.

We started to see patches of snow lining the trail as we climbed higher up towards the pass. Soon, the lingering snow patches became deeper and started popping up more often, and we began to wonder if we would be able to make it up to the high point of our planned route.


Brooks trudging through the snow. Are we on the right track?

It wasn’t long before we were running entirely in the snow with no sign of dirt. At this point we were getting anxious about finding the trail that would take us back down towards Fraser and out of the snow. After consulting Trailforks we concluded that we had taken a wrong turn on one of the unmarked fire roads and needed to backtrack to get back onto the route.


Brooks consults the map, looking more than a little skeptical.

A few miles of backtracking and we were on the right track and heading out of the snow. The running became much easier and we really started to enjoy the scenery around us. At some point we crossed the invisible line from Winter to Spring again and found ourselves surrounded by blooming aspens, green grass, and plenty of flowing water.

Brooks cruising through the trees. Finally out of the snow!

Brooks cruising through the trees. Finally out of the snow!

Finally enjoying some speed as we head downhill towards Fraser.

Finally enjoying some speed as we head downhill towards Fraser.

Brooks takes some long strides on a well deserved descent.

Brooks takes some long strides on a well deserved descent.

The more elevation we dropped, the more fun the single track became. Our miles ticked by and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves back down Corona Pass Road and onto the Fraser River Trail. From here it was a quick jaunt back up to the resort where we pulled off our shoes, stretched out our legs, and enjoyed an IPA from our freshly filled Hideaway Park Brewery growler.


Screenshot 2016-07-07 10.00.41

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  • Awesome post! Good thing you guys didn’t get stuck up in the snow! It’s pretty impressive you still had some signal up there. That trail looks like so much fun though!

    • Will Hitchcock

      Thanks Jason! We were using downloaded maps and the phone’s built-in GPS, no wireless signal needed. I also had a paper map down in the bottom of my pack so we were in pretty good shape there. There’s also always the option of backtracking you way back out when things get really bad!