Sally Kate Tinch
Get Outside! Great Colorado parks, recreation & hikes
As the days become longer and the temperature rise, activities shift from snow sports to hiking, running, and fly-fishing in communities throughout Colorado. Here are some ideas for making the most of your spring adventures.
For an easy to intermediate hike in the Foothills, Alderfer/Three Sisters Park offers an extensive network of trails. Trekkers can enjoy loops ranging from under a mile to ten miles, with modest elevation gains. The views are spectacular, with rock formations jutting from the landscape and glimpses of the Continental Divide on a clear day. Best of all, these trails are close to Evergreen and there are trailheads at the eastern and western ends of the park for easy access.
Spruce Mountain, located near Larkspur and Palmer Lake, is a 5.5 mile loop that provides views of Pikes Peak and the Palmer Divide. Wildflowers are abundant in the spring and summer, and the trial allows horseback riding, so keep dogs on leash and your eyes peeled for riders.
For beautiful views and ease of access from Denver, Roxborough State Park offers almost 4,000 acres to explore and is just a short drive from Littleton and other parts of Southwest Denver. Some of the notable options include Fountain Valley Trail, which is fairly flat and just over 2 miles with impressive rock outcroppings, and the more challenging Elk Valley Trail, a 4.8 mile loop with lookout points to search for elk in the meadows. Dogs are not allowed in the park, and make sure to leave no trace – pack out any trash to keep the trails beautiful.
Located just west of downtown Boulder, Mt Sanitas is a popular hike for locals and visitors alike. It can be done as a mellow walk near a brook, or the most challenging option with a steep incline to the peak with 360-degree views of Boulder and the Front Range. Parking is a challenge due to its proximity to Boulder, so plan to arrive early or carpool.
At any river or lake in Colorado, you’re likely to see people fly-fishing along the banks or wading with fly rods in hand. The state’s waterways have numerous types of trout, ranging from rainbows and brook trout to brown and cutthroat varieties. With over 9,000 miles of trout-fishing waters, Colorado offers something for every type of angler.
The Animas River in southwestern Colorado’s 126 miles stretch through Silverton, Durango, and New Mexico, with mostly rainbow and brown trout in the area. The largest brown trout in the state was caught on the Animas, at an impressive twenty pounds.
Clear Creek winds from the Continental Divide through Silver Plume and Idaho Springs before joining the South Platte River. In addition to the beautiful scenery along its banks, Clear Creek provides nice stashes of brown trout.
The Eagle River, which meanders from the headwaters in the Continental Divide through the Vail Valley to Dotsero, where it meets the Colorado River. Due to its proximity to towns along Interstate 70, the Eagle sees quite a bit of fishing traffic in summer months, but the caddis hatch is a great time to visit, and rainbows and brown trout are common.
Local running clubs offer a great opportunity for social runs in cities and towns throughout the state. Launched in 1988, the Crested Butte Mountain Runners meet for trail runs in mid-May through October. Routes range from 4-12 miles and showcase the phenomenal wildflowers that Crested Butte is known for in summer months. All running abilities are welcome.
In Golden, Runners Roost offers a weekly Thursday meet-up. Lace up your shoes, stretch those hamstrings, and meet other like-minded people in your area in a relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy a 3-5 mile run followed by complimentary beer at the Golden Mill.
The Highland Tap & Burger Run Club hosts a weekly 4-mile run through the historic neighborhoods of the Highlands and Lower Downtown each Wednesday at 6:30pm. Following the run, enjoy complimentary pasta and salad from Highland Tap & Burger at the Fun Club.
The Vail Valley Running Club launches their season in mid-April, with weekly runs in Edwards, Eagle, and Vail. Routes vary based on number of runners but typically include a 3-mile, 6-mile and 8-10 mile options. Dogs and strollers are welcome.