Best Almost Shooting Fish in a Barrel 2015 | Lake Carol Anne | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Carol and Punch Bohn, son of legendary boxer Eddie Bohn, run Lake Carol Anne, a private fishing enclave in north Denver. Fishing is belly-boating only, and membership is limited to a hundred — but those lucky fishermen can catch (and release) big bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill and brown, rainbow, brook and tiger trout — including the biggest tiger trout ever caught in Colorado. Joe Petrow's catch landed on the cover of a magazine, which brought him to the attention of the state and earned him a thirty-day license suspension, but he got to keep the bragging rights...and avoided a $1,000 penalty.

5880 Lowell Blvd.

Best Place for Kids to Commune With Nature in the City

Mordecai Children's Garden

Brandon Marshall

Denver Botanic Gardens offers one of the finest examples of nature play around. That's because naturalists used indigenous species, alpine plants and tons of natural materials to craft a legit mountain experience for kids and their families at its Mordecai Children's Garden. The highlight is Springmelt Stream, where children can dam things up with logs, skip stones and surmount rocks to their heart's content. Little ones can meander downhill to Chipotle Homes Harvest Garden — just beyond Pipsqueak Pond — then get elevated at Marmot Mountain, which features a rickety bridge, a picnic nook and furry friends. Because the environment is constantly changing, no two visits to this magical three-acre oasis are ever alike.

The Berrypicker trail out of Vail will get you into Colorado's famed scenery quickly as it heads straight up the mountain — the same one you ski in the winter — from either Vail Village or Lionshead. Named for the wild berries that grow alongside it, Berrypicker runs by streams, aspen trees, wildflowers and the occasional moose. But it's so close to town that hikers also have excellent cell reception, allowing them to make reservations — try Mountain Standard for a burger and a craft beer — on their descent. The trail is short but challenging, so you'll be hungry.

Boulder is full of good hikes and great beer, but there's one combination that stands above the others. Perhaps one of the most well-known trails in the area, the Mount Sanitas loop is a rugged three-mile hike that will take you to the rocky top of the 6,843-foot peak. From there, you'll have great views of the surrounding area, and you can pretend to make out Sanitas Brewing off in the distance. You'll certainly be thinking about a delicious saison or a black IPA by the time you and your sore knees get to the bottom. And from the patio of the brewery, you'll be able to gaze up at the peak where you just were.

Mark Antonation

Globeville Landing Park, at 38th Street and Arkins Court, is home to the only disc-golf course within the Denver city limits, and although it's small and a little rough, it has its charms. Don't own any discs? Hop on the Platte River Greenway or the Cherry Creek Trail and ride to REI to pick some up, then head to the park. The tees are hard to see, so you may want to find a course map online first. After playing nine holes, get back on your bike and ride carefully down 38th and over the bridge to Walnut Street, then walk in the welcoming red door at Black Shirt Brewing. At the brewery, which specializes in beautifully crafted, hoppy red beers, you're likely to find a saison or a porter to help quench that recreational thirst.

Best Way to Meet an Outdoorsy Type Indoors


When LuvByrd founder Mike Keshian was living in Crested Butte, he realized that it's not always easy for people who love the great outdoors to find like-minded romantic partners, particularly in smaller towns. That was the seed that grew into LuvByrd, a matchmaking website that caters to ski bums, river rats and everyone in between. After signing up, LuvByrd members can choose their favorite activities from a list of dozens, then start making dates to indulge in their passions.

The Colorado Trail celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 2014, and although it was designed for hiking, the trail's 28 segments are mostly mountain-bike-friendly, too (with the exception of six wilderness areas that you have to detour around). If you were so inclined, you could pedal out from Denver and end up in Durango some 535 miles later in a couple of weeks or so. Colorado Trail "completers" tend to throw around phrases like "life-changing," but even a day trip along any of the trail's segments is worth doing. Either way, get copies of the Colorado Trail Foundation's official guidebook and the CT map book at to plan it out properly.

Readers' choice: Lair o' the Bear

Bike Snowmass wasn't messing around when it named its 2.75-mile, 1,400-vertical-foot-drop downhill bomber trail "Valhalla" — but that's just one recent addition to a singletrack and freeride trail system that now spiders out over fifty miles across the mountain resort. The park, which boasts jumps, wooden wall rides and other freeride features, was designed and built by Gravity Logic, the crew behind the Trestle Bike Park at Winter Park and the Trestle Bike Park at Barnum North in Denver. A $41 day pass or $199 summer pass grants you and your bike access to the Elk Camp Gondola and Elk Camp Chairlift, and Four Mountain Sports offers bike rentals, body armor (no, seriously) and clinics. The park typically opens in late June and operates daily through Labor Day, then on weekends through the end of September.

It's easy to cycle on the Cherry Creek Trail and the Greenway Trail along the South Platte River, but pedaling gets a little trickier once you surface and merge into the urban grid. In 2013, Denver installed its first protected bike lane downtown — on 15th Street between Cleveland Place and Larimer Street — and then updated it last year. Riding this short but important route still takes guts, especially during rush hour, but the trip is worth it, especially if heavy use encourages city planners to add future bike lanes in the city.

Readers' choice: Cherry Creek Trail

It's no secret that Denver is a dog town — our canine friends are everywhere — and Berkeley Lake Dog Park gives our four-legged kings and queens plenty of room to roam off-leash. Its rolling terrain is mostly gravel, which is great for letting pups blow off steam without getting their paws all muddy. There's a separate area for lower-energy dogs to have fun, too, so older pooches and smaller hounds have as much of a chance to go wild as the bigger, giddier fellows. Lovely views of historic Lakeside Amusement Park to the west and Berkeley Lake to the east make the dog park equally inviting for the mutts' people friends, the ones who drive them there.

Readers' choice: Chatfield State Park

Best Of Denver®

Best Of