In Wyoming, there is a lesser known, but lovely place for hiking and running: Medicine Bow National Forest.
With over 2 million acres of Forest Service managed land crossing from Colorado to Wyoming, it offers hiking, back packing, trail running, camping, fishing and more. Not only that, but it is close to the front range in Colorado, Cheyenne, and Landor with a lot less people than you get in RMNP or the Tetons.
In the middle of it all is the snowy range where Medicine Bow peak is. For day hikes and runs, this is an ideal place with good views, good trails and summer snowball fights. The loop from the far end of the pictured ridge along the top and then back by the lakes (or vice versa) is a mere six miles of fun. I know, right? Perfect day out or practice elevation runs (up to 12,000 feet).
Other benefits – if you want to set up camp for the summer, it seems every forest service road has an insane amount of free camp-able spots. We found a lot of RV and large tent camps that appeared to be settled in for the summer. That said, we found a great spot away from everyone, so didn’t have to hear generators all night.
Some of the official camping areas have had pine beetle issues and so are pretty ugly, what with all the trees gone. Our favorite was on the far west side of the 130, the Ryan Park Campground. The campground there lacked a lot of trees on one side (pine beetles), but was nearly empty, still very pretty, super clean and had moose. Also it was a prisoner of war camp during WWII, holding German and Italian soldiers. (For those of you who didn’t know, there were more than 400,000 prisoners of war held in the US during WWII). We walked the historic tour.
Things to remember: Since it is a National Forest, it is hunted. Be careful on the trails to dress accordingly during hunting seasons.