Best of Boulder, Colorado
If you like to bike, you'll love Boulder. You'll find bike racks on most buses, bike lockers at some public transit stations, about a dozen bike shops, and countless bike racksâ€”no need to lock up around trees or street signs. With lined bike lanes crisscrossing the city, numerous cyclists pedal the Boulder pavement, rain or shine (although it does lean toward shine around here).
Get your legs pumping on the Boulder Creek Path. This 16-mile, multi-use trail lets you pass right through the heart of town without jockeying with motorized traffic. Besides a few miles of dirt and gravel, the path promises smooth pavement from the base of Boulder Canyon to its end at 55th Street. The trail runs parallel to scenic Boulder Creek, where you'll find benches and parks for some R&R. Besides fellow cyclists, the path is also very popular with inline skaters, joggers, and walkersâ€”not to mention kayakers and tubers hiking their crafts back up the creekâ€”so don't expect much solitary pedaling.
A local mountain-biking fave, the Switzerland Trail traces the route of an old narrow-gauge railway line from Boulder's mining-town days. Head west of Boulder on CO 119 into the Sugarloaf subdivision to access the trail. After six and a half miles of steady ridgeline climbing (about 750 feet of elevation gain), this easy out-and-back presents riders with great views of forested valleys below and the Continental Divide beyond. Even better, it's all downhill from here.
Walker Ranch is a 2,778-acre park under the auspices of Boulder County Parks and Open Space. The eight-mile Walker Ranch Loop Trail is another ride popular with fat-tire fiends who possess technical skill and a desire to pedal hard-the trail starts and ends at 7,250 feet, with 1,700 feet of climbing. This difficult ride offers mountain bikers the good, the bad, and the ugly all in one trip: enjoy breathtaking vistas and a stretch running alongside scenic South Boulder Creek, bomb down rapid descents with banked turns, grind up quad-burning hills, and walk your wheels through a few dangerous sections.
Bike rentals: University Bicycles, corner of 9th and Pearl Streets, 303-444-4196, www.ubikes.com
Quench your Thirst
While there are plenty of ways to wind down following a two-wheeled adventure, why not do it with a refreshing pint of biking-inspired beer? The Belgian-style Fat Tire Amber Ale is actually brewed a bit north of Boulder, in Fort Collins, but it has a strong local following. If you're more of a coffee connoisseur, park your wheels outside the Trident Coffeehouse and Bookstore, where you can people watch over an excellent cup of joe. Ready for something new and different? Head to Boulder's Redstone Meadery, where they brew that sweet and refreshing elixir known as mead, or honey wine; free tours and tastings are available. Last but not least, don't leave Boulder without trying one of the award-winning margaritas at Rio Grande. Their secret recipe will knock even the strongest drinkers for a loop; if you take it to the limit (3 'ritas), you're better off walking those wheels home.
- New Belgium Brewing Company, 888-NBB-4044, www.newbelgium.com/frames.html
- Trident Coffeehouse and Bookstore, 940 Pearl Street, 303-443-3133
- Redstone Meadery, 4700 Pearl Street, #2A; 720-406-1215, www.redstonemeadery.com
- Rio Grande, 1101 Walnut Street, 303-444-3690, riograndeboulder.citysearch.com
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication