Gay hiking

Five Colorado Breweries to Visit Near the Hiking Trails

As late spring approaches, the snow melts in the mountains, giving way to hundreds of fantastic hiking trails. Colorado offers some of the most scenic hikes in the country, allowing you to have a great day out in nature. World-class beer sits near the base of many of these hikes, and there’s no better way to end a day of outdoor adventure than with a few cold pints.

And if you’re heading for a hike in an uncovered area here, chances are there’s a brewery nearby where you can sit and reminisce about your adventure over a few beers. It doesn’t get much better than that.

While there are dozens of options, here are five notable breweries to visit after hiking some great trails nearby:

Palisade is also a great place to visit wineries.

Palisade Brewing Company/Instagram

Palisade Brewery
200 Peaches Ave. Palisade
970-464-1462

Located in the heart of Palisade, this brewery’s flagship beer is Dirty Hippy, a buckwheat beer that boasts a very drinkable 5.3% ABV. If wheat beer isn’t your thing, the brewery offers a wide range of other beer styles, including several IPAs. The partially shaded patio is a great outdoor experience, while the cozy garage feel of the indoor seating is pleasant on hot summer days. It also offers a gourmet menu, with a wide variety of starters, salads and sandwiches.

Hike here: Palisade Rim Trail
Difficulty: All levels
Distance: 3.3 and 8.3 mile loops
Dogs: Yes
Mountain bike: Yes
At the east end of the town of Palisade, off the Colorado River, is the Palisade Rim Trail. The hike offers quick gratification, with truly breathtaking views of the Grand Valley that only open up after a few hundred meters of elevation. The shortest loop is 3.3 miles with about 600 feet of elevation gain. For hikers with a higher level of endurance, the 8.3-mile, 1,400-foot elevation gain trail will reward you with even greater views of the valley below.

You might even catch the sunset during your stop at Elevation.  - ELEVATION/INSTAGRAM BEER COMPANY

You might even catch the sunset during your stop at Elevation.

Elevation Beer Company/Instagram

Elevation Beer Company
115 Pahlone Drive, Poncha Springs
719-539-5258

Elevation Beer Company is the star of the small town of Poncha Springs. It offers barrel-aged specialties including Signal de Botrange, a 9.8% ABV Chardonnay barrel-aged farmhouse beer that is a gem of a beer. Elevation also has easy drinkers like its year-round 8 Second Kolsch, among the best of its style in Colorado. The outdoor patio is the perfect way to relax after hiking, with south-facing views of the mountains and an on-site food truck.

Hike here: Monarch Crest Trail
Difficulty: Intermediate to advanced
Distance: Varies, up to 31.3 miles
Dogs: Nope
Mountain bike: Yes
Located in the Gunnison National Forest, Monarch Crest is an expansive trail system that offers true backcountry alpine hiking up to 31.2 miles in length. If this great adventure is daunting, fear not: there are plenty of easier hikes available in this trail system. A good option is to start from the Monarch Crest trailhead at the Monarch Crest Gift Shop. There you will find a huge free car park. You can then climb the mountain, reward yourself with an almost instant stunning view of the mountain range, and simply turn back when you’ve had your fill. If you prefer to hike through the woods along a creek, starting at Green’s or Fooses Creek, both closer to Poncha Springs, is another great option for a round trip.

Westbound's original location in Idaho Springs is the perfect post-hike stop.  -BRANDON MARSHALL

Westbound’s original location in Idaho Springs is the perfect post-hike stop.

Brandon Marshall

Westbound & Down Brewing Company
1617 Miner Street, Idaho Springs
720-502-3121

Westbound & Down makes a variety of IPAs, with a lean towards clean, bitter, and savory West Coast styles. Its lager program is also one of the best in the state, with great beers such as The Coloradan, a Mexican lager, and Italian Pils, a dry-hopped pilsner. It also offers an extensive gourmet menu, led by Chef Ben Plaksa – and a new second location in Lafayette, in case your hiking adventures take you in that direction.

Hike here: Chief Mountain Trail

Difficulty: Moderate-Intermediate
Distance: 2.8 miles total, round trip
Dogs: Yes, on a leash
Mountain bike: Nope
Chief Mountain is located in Evergreen, approximately 11 miles or 25 minutes from Idaho Springs, and is part of the Arapaho National Forest. The trail is fairly short, only 2.8 miles round trip, but has a somewhat steep elevation gain of 940 feet. The trail is very wide and mostly shaded all the way to the top, allowing plenty of opportunity to catch your breath. Once at the top, the trail rises to 11,700 feet in elevation, opening up to 360 degree views of the Rocky Mountains. If you’re looking for something a little longer or more challenging, Mount Evans is nearby and has an extensive network of excellent hikes.

TELLURIDE/INSTAGRAM BREWING

Telluride Brewery/Instagram

Telluride Brewing Company
156 Society Drive, Telluride
970-728-5094

Chances are you’ve had a Telluride Brewing Company beer, even if you’ve never been to Telluride; the brewery’s products are a staple in bars, venues and liquor stores all over Colorado. From its popular beers like Facedown Brown and Tempter IPA to more experimental offerings using hop terpenes, Telluride has a range of hoppy beers that will really hit the mark after a mountain hike. Its patio is next to the brown facade of the brewery, which is nestled against the forest, making you wonder if you’ve even left your nature adventure behind.

Hike here: Bear Creek Trail

Difficulty: Moderate-Intermediate
Distance: 5.1 miles total round trip
Dogs: Yes, on a leash
Mountain bike: Nope
Bear Creek Trail begins at the south end of downtown Telluride. About half a mile further, the trail turns to follow Bear Creek and rewards hikers with excellent views of the forest, mountains, and creek. Just over two and a half miles away is the main attraction, Bear Creek Falls, a magnificent waterfall over 75 feet. For hikers looking for more of a challenge, the Wasatch Trail connects just below the falls and offers an additional five miles of terrain to cover, ending at the gondola, which can then be taken into town. These trails can also be taken in reverse, starting with a free gondola ride up the mountain.

RED LEG BREWING COMPANY / INSTAGRAM

Red Leg Brewing Company/Instagram

Red Leg Brewery
2323 Garden of the Gods Road, Colorado Springs
719-598-3776

Red Leg Brewing, owned and operated by veterans, offers one of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in all of Colorado, with upper and lower level patios, multiple food trucks most days, and a variety of lawn games, while offering breathtaking views of the mountains.

Hike here: Garden of the Gods Trail System
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: Varied
Dogs: Yes, on a leash
Mountain bike: Yes, but very limited
At the western end of Colorado Springs is the Garden of the Gods. This National Natural Landmark Park features large sandstone formations that can reach heights of 300 feet. Throughout the park you will find a wide variety of hiking options, mostly on the easier side. Typically, hikers combine several smaller trails to create a loop. One of the best options is the Cabin Canyon to Siamese Twins to Palmer and Central Garden Trail Loop. This 4.3-mile hike climbs a modest 616 feet and gives hikers a great tour of the park. A slightly shorter route—using the Palmer, Buckskin-Charley, Niobrara, and Bretag trails to form a four-mile, 449-foot elevation gain loop—takes hikers around the perimeter of the park. With approximately two dozen individual trails, you are left with virtually limitless options on how to connect these short trails and create your own personalized experience.