House to Horsetooth

Planet Labs, my employer, suggests people take a Friday paid day off every month. I used mine in October to go on a little adventure that I'd been thinking about for a couple years: running from my house to the summit of Horsetooth Mountain and back again. I spent eight and a half hours on the trail, including many stops for photos, water, and food, covering 33 miles and 4100 feet of elevation gain. Horsetooth Reservoir, 7 miles long and half a mile wide, was my primary obstacle.

Horsetooth Mountain from Centennial Drive, 5 miles in.

The first four miles were on the Spring Creek bike path and dirt in Pineridge Open Space. Beyond that was seven miles of road shoulder to go around the south end of Horsetooth Reservoir and reach the upper Horsetooth Open Space trailhead. I drive this road once or twice a week, but had never run it before. It's fairly busy, so I ran strictly on the left and kept a close eye on oncoming vehicles. Waving and mouthing "thanks" when drivers give me extra room is my standard practice.

13 miles in, 10 minutes from the summit.

From the Horsetooth parking lot, I had 10 miles of peaceful single track, mostly all to myself. I took it very easy, only using a little speed to reach the Lory State Park visitor's center at the north end of Horsetooth Reservoir before closing time, 4 p.m., to buy a Coke and refill water bottles.

View west from the top.

I found the smuggler's route from the vistor center through to the north Horsetooth boat ramp, saving me from three additional miles of road shoulder, ran the road back along the reservoir's east shore to Maxwell Open Space, and then through Maxwell to Pineridge and back down the bike trail. Overall it was half road, half dirt.

To cap things off, I ordered Sichuan and Wuhan style noodles from Beijing Noodle (awesome place, closest restaurant to my house) using my phone's browser on the trail, and then carried the takeout boxes home on foot while drinking a beer from the store next to the noodle shop. It was such a satisfying day. I'll be thinking fondly about this adventure for a while.