Estes Park has been welcoming visitors for over a century now, becoming one of the most visited places in the western state of Colorado. Most have come to behold the told stories of the beauty of this mountainous region, and the people of this town have enjoyed welcoming visitors from all over. The mountains and the elevated trails catch the eyes, that is a given, but much more are the health benefits of this beautiful place.
You might ask, the town’s elevation affords people the opportunity to train and exercise their bodies thousands of feet above sea level. However, at this elevation, the amount of oxygen in the air becomes lesser due to thinner air, and your body does not have enough oxygen to keep up; therefore, training becomes more complex, thereby tiring you out faster.
Why do it, then?
Training at this elevation pushesh your body to perform against the odds; after doing this for a few weeks, the body learns to adapt to the reduced amount of oxygen. As a result, your respiratory system becomes more robust, you build endurance, improving the capacity you exercise.
High Altitude Training
High altitude training is the practice of keeping fit at lofty heights. To simply put, it is performing exercises at places that are elevated, such as mountains, hills, mounds, and others.
Sports scientists have worked hard to push the human body to achieve the best results possible through the scientific study of sporting exercises. As a result, researchers have established a better understanding of how the human body reacts to training in different environments. And the most favorable results were achieved when professional athletes trained at places that were 7000 to 8000 feet above sea level. The human body is acclimatized to the drop in oxygen concentration; since air pressure is higher at high elevations, the ability of the body to take in oxygen becomes limited. And even though it required more effort to train at that level, the eventual result showed that athletes who trained at higher elevations and had to push their bodies further due to environmental differences performed better at standard sea level.
Trail running is predominantly a combination of running and hiking with more emphasis on running. This exercise takes place on dirt roads, forest trails, paths, tracks, and any unpaved surfaces as long as they are easy to follow and do not essentially involve the significant ascents of mountain running or need for navigating skills (like in Fell running). Since the surfaces are of nature’s disposition, there will be different inclinations, and that irregularity makes trail running an excellent exercise to engage in. Most people involved in trail running often describe it as having less impact than road running and the landscape view, the non-urban, and natural environment, which are some significant reasons why many are picking trail running over other traditional track and road running.
Trail running is usually possible in warm climates or warmer seasons, being that it generally takes place on hiking trails.
High Altitude Training and Trail Running In Estes Park
Although Estes Park is a known summer resort, it sits at an elevation of 7,522 ft (2,293 m). It boasts of mountains such as Longs Peak, which sits at over 14,000 ft above sea level. It has the Mummy Range, the Mummy Mountain, and lest we forget, it is the location of the headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park. By merely being on the ground in Estes Park and doing your exercises, you are engaging in high altitude training, and the desire to challenge one’s body or self would then require you to access higher altitudes at different ascending points on the mountains. Some of the high altitude places in Estes Park are;
People’s appreciation of one of the most prominent mountains in Colorado is mainly observed during summer since it is always the premier activity engaged in by people when they visit. In ascending Longs Peak, the trails leading up include; The East Longs Peak Trail, The Keyhole Route, Longs Peak Trail, and Clark’s Arrow and the Shelf Trail. Some of these trails might not support running or even hiking except climbing, and other high altitude exercises.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park is the location of headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is located between the town of Estes Park to the east and Grand Lake to the west. The park features mountains, high-altitude lakes, and a diverse selection of wildlife. The National Forest lands surround the park, and the Rocky Mountain National Park Administration Building (Beaver Meadows Visitor Center) is the headquarters and principal visitors center of the park. The park has an immense range of mountains, and you might have to pay some money to explore some of them, tokens.
Mummy Mountain: This a 13,430 ft (4,093 m) mountain and can be accessible by hiking.
Mummy Range: This the parent range of Mummy Mountain. This Range is a short subrange of the Front Range located in southwestern Larimer County, northwest of Estes Park. Accessing the peaks of the Mummy range can be reasonably challenging, especially if some very technical routes are taken, but all can be ascended by steep hiking and mild scrambling.
Twin Sisters Peak: The trail leading up to them does not require paying an entrance fee. Their elevation is at 11,433 ft (3,485 m), and it is located on Highway 7, opposite Lily Lake. The easiest route to take will be hiking, also scrambling.
Never Summer Mountain: The Never Summer Mountains are another mountain range in the Rocky Mountains, consisting of seventeen named peaks, with the Mount Richthofen at 12,945 ft (3,946 m) elevation being its highest peak. This Range is famous and frequented by hikers.
Prospect Mountain: The prospect mountain is unique in that at its summit, there is are communication towers and a cable car that runs trips every hour to the top in the summer, where a small gift shop is located. Its uniqueness is further impressive because there is a tunnel that runs through the bottom of the mountain.
Estes Cone: It peaks at 11,010 ft. The summit of the Estes Cone trail offers some of the finest views found in Estes Park, although the path leading up to it needs to be conquered and requires you to be fully committed.
Here are some trails that will be suitable for running. Since Estes Park is already elevated some 7000 ft above sea level, these places can also be used as high altitude training areas.
Estes Park Trails.
Lake Estes Trail is a 3.80 miles trail looped around the Lake Estes, suitable for all abilities. The track is used for walking, running, nature trips, and even road biking. Dogs are allowed on this trail, and it is accessible throughout the year.
Lily Mountain trailhead: this trail run in Estes Park is a dog-friendly one. About four miles going and coming, you are elevated above the park, with mountains such as Longs Peak and more visible.
Oldman Mountain: This is a very elevated trail of about 0.62 mile.
Big Thompson River Walk to Lake Estes: This is one of the paved trails, making it easily accessible. It is about 4.90 miles and loops around Lake Estes.
Prospect Mountain Trail: This trail is just 0.99 mile, doubles as a high altitude training surface.
Limber Pine Trail to Krueger Rock through Saddle Trailhead: Another dog-friendly trail is a round trip of 7.51 miles. At the top of Krueger, you can look out on Estes Park, which genuinely crowns the effort it took to get you there.
Moraine Park: A looped route of about 3.41 miles would require some measure of commitment.
Rocky Mountain National Park Trails
Bear Lake to Nymph Lake Trail: Starting at Bear Lake Loop Trail, the half a mile course from the lake to Nymph Lake has mountains, and wildflower all around it, so you can soak in this view while keeping fit. There are several short steep spots on the Bear Lake trail that rounds the lake.
Bierstadt Lake Loop: This easy 3.01-mile trail inside Rocky Mountain National Park begins at the Bierstadt Lake Trailhead – near the Glacier Basin Campground.
Moraine Park’s Cub Lake: this trail is about five miles going in and coming back; there are other trails linked to it if you choose to continue your run.
Wild Basin Trailhead to Ouzel Falls trail: on this trail, you are greeted with lovely waterfall views courtesy of Copeland Falls and the Calypso Cascades. The round trip is about 5.49 miles.
Chasm Lake Trail: the 8.5 miles trip begins at Longs Peak Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. The lake is a part of the network that makes its way up to Longs Peak.
Mount Ida: experienced trail runners will love this challenge, starting at the Poudre Lake Trailhead. There are miles filled with rugged terrain. Proper preparation is needed to embark on this 9.60 miles journey.
An Expected Illness: Easily Avoided
AMS, Acute Mountain Sickness happens at altitude, even at low as 6,500 feet (2,000 m). Since Estes Park is positioned at 7,522 feet (2,293 m) above sea level, it is simply most adventurers’ expectation, even though it is easily prevented by being prepared beforehand, how? You might ask, easy steps includes;
Before going ahead to Estes Park, spend a day or two in Denver to prepare yourself for your destination. By slowing ascending, one’s body can get acclimatized at a gradual pace; you might not even notice the change. Therefore, on getting to Estes Park, do not jump straight into straining physical activities but rather rest your body to get yourself adequately acclimatized to the new environment.
Some tourists might eventually experience this illness, which might be due to the inability to ascend slowly or stress. However, the knowledge they say is power; the condition occurs in the first 48 hours of arrival, not to be alarmed it is an ordinary happening at Estes Park. Hence the need for proper rest on arrival. Anyone experiencing AMS has the following symptoms; headache, shortness of breath, lack of appetite, lightheadedness, nausea, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and dizziness.
In a severe case, such a person might need to descend to lower elevation until recovery. In milder cases, stay hydrated – drink a lot of water, especially if you are a person who is not in the habit of drinking a lot of water; at high elevation, water drinking is a necessity, not a choice. There is no need to descend to a lower elevation; proper rest and drinking a lot of water will allow the body to acclimatize.
After treatment, ensure that you take it easy as you progress; take your time. First, stroll, then take naps, allow your body time to adjust before proceeding to the whole exercise routine entirely. Continuously drink water, high elevation has an increased dehydrating capacity, which one must not take for granted. So, drink lots of water or even juices, avoid coffee or anything that has caffeine in them.
Word of Advice
Fitness is a goal everyone wants to achieve, but a sizeable number of us might not make up the mind and put in place plans to make it happen. Often, the abandonment of fitness goals is not a result of laziness, as someone of a critical mindset might assume but lacks motivating and encouraging factors. Other negating actors such as; intimidation and cost might dissuade them from even engaging the thought anymore.
- Get the local area maps such as Estes Park Area Map and Rocky Mountain National Park Area Map
- Protect yourself from the sun and get suitable comfortable footwear.
- Stay hydrated, drink more than enough water and fill up bottles for your exercise.
- Take adequate clothing and then some extra clothing.
- Be conscious of the weather patterns.
- Learn about altitude illness, the symptoms, and treatments
- Learn about where you are going to, do not just pack up and get moving, acquire knowledge.
The freedom of the outdoors gives just the right amount of motivation and encouragement that one needs to achieve the set fitness goals while at the same time appreciating the beauty of nature around you.