Summer and fall are beautiful seasons for hiking in the Rocky Mountains. They’re also perfect for brewery tours and beer drinking. Why not combine the two activities by first working on your fitness with a beautiful hike and then chasing your efforts down with a cool beer at a mountain town brewery?
Here are some of our favorite hiking and brewery combination trips from Denver and Broomfield.
Fourth of July Trail & Very Nice Brewing Company
Independence Day is behind us, but you can hike the Fourth of July trail near Nederland all summer long. Just 45 minutes from AMLI at Interlocken in Broomfield, this four-mile trail is known for its breathtaking wildflowers and stunning views of the Continental Divide.
After you finish the hike, stop off at Very Nice Brewing Company in Nederland. Known for its sweet and refreshing Monk’s Phunk Dubbel and the medium-bodied Very Nice Pale Ale, the brewery is located in the same plaza as the Carousel of Happiness.
St. Mary’s Glacier & Tommyknocker Brewery
Less than an hour from AMLI Park Avenue in downtown Denver, St. Mary’s Glacier is accessible, convenient, and located conveniently close to the Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs. Tackle this .75-mile hike, and you’ll be rewarded with a picturesque glacial lake and stunning mountain views. Ascend a bit higher, and you can see the Continental Divide with your own eyes. This hike, along with a glass of Tommyknocker’s Imperial Nut Brown Ale or Tundrabeary Summer Ale, is a great activity to try with out-of-town visitors.
Lost Lake Trail & Vail Brewing Co.
At 7.5 miles, out-and-back, Lost Lake Trail outside Vail is the longest hike on this list. Even though it’s long, the trail is moderate. You’ll have sweeping views of the mountains for most of the way, and finally seeing Lost Lake emerge out of nowhere is the perfect way to know you’ve reached your goal. Be sure to pack a lunch for this one, and save it for a scenic overlook littered with nature’s benches (aka felled trees).
Once you’ve found the lost lake, start searching for your favorite beer at Vail Brewing Co. The brand new brewery opened just in time for the summer 2015 season. So far, reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. On a good day, you can make it from your downtown Denver apartment to the Lost Lake trailhead in one hour and forty-five minutes.
Maroon Bells & Aspen Brewing Company
If you aren’t familiar with the spellbinding beauty of the Maroon Bells, get on Google Images right now. These majestic Elk Mountain peaks are geological marvels in their own right, but hiking to a glacial lake painted by their reflection makes for an almost otherworldly experience. The four-mile out-and-back hike is something every able-bodied Coloradoan should experience. For postcard-perfect views of the glistening, golden aspen trees, make your pilgrimage to Maroon Bells in the early fall. If you go in the summer, you’ll have to settle for brilliant wildflowers and healthy, green aspen leaves.
After taking in the sites, hit up the Aspen Brewing Company for a pint. This season’s blonde is a light, refreshing wheat beer with hints of honey. If you like your beer dark, the Pyramid Peak Porter is full of chocolate, molasses, and heady goodness. At just over three hours outside of Denver, Maroon Bells and the Aspen Brewing Company are another hiking brewery combo to consider making a weekend trip out of.
Great Sand Dunes & San Luis Brewing
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near Alamosa, with the snow-capped Rockies in the background, are a sight to behold. The 2.5-mile Zapata Fallas hiking loop gives you phenomenal views of the dunes and the pleasure of walking to a beautiful waterfall. The trail is fairly easy, but you’ll probably want to bring water shoes if you’re visiting in late summer or early fall. The well-maintained Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center is worth a visit for maps and information on the dunes’ creation and history. After you’ve had your fill of the breathtaking dunes, stop off at the San Luis Brewing Company for a light and refreshing Hefe Suave or a hop-heavy Grand River IPA and a burger.
This hiking brewery combo can be done in a day if you’re really ambitious. But since Alamosa is 3.5 hours from Denver, it also makes a good overnight trip. Stay within walking distance of the San Luis Brewing Company, and you won’t have to worry about keeping your beer intake to a minimum.
What are you doing next weekend? If you don’t know yet, plan an adventure that’s both rugged and refreshing. Experience one of these hiking brewery combinations. You’ll feel great, and be reminded of why Denver is such a great place to call home.
What’s your favorite hike, brewery, or hiking brewing combination in the mountains outside Denver?
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