Best Quickie Hike 2016 | Beaver Brook Trail | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Slightly more than a mile off I-70 sits the trailhead for the hidden gem called Beaver Brook, actually a well-shaded trail system with several options, from easy to strenuous. The Braille Nature Center Trail is a short, informative walk with interpretive signs that share information on the flora and fauna in the area, while the Gudy Gaskill Loop takes hikers above Clear Creek and the Robert Chavez Trail follows right along the water. You could do a twelve-mile out-and-back here if you have the time, but even doing a few miles both ways will still give you a backcountry feel while on a nearby trail.

It takes only about a minute of holding hands at the 25-foot-high waterfall in pretty Forsythe Canyon to realize that there's no one else around — and that there are a lot of big, shady trees everywhere...and that the gentle burbling of the water makes for some convenient background noise. The mild-to-moderate hike — no need to get all sweaty before you're ready — is partially shaded along the way by fir and spruce that make it easy to duck off the path at nearly any point, and as soon as the foliage starts growing, the wildflowers make for a nice thank-you bouquet.

A permanent nine-hole disc-golf park in Longmont, Loomiller is mostly flat, surrounded by trees, and features a lake and a pond that make for some fun challenges on several holes. The pin placements can be tough, too, but for the most part, this is a beginner's course with a variety of lines on the holes, and the tee pads are concrete. There's a picnic area near one of the ponds, but one of the best reasons for working up a thirst here is that you can hop, bike or skip onto Hover Street and hit Oskar Blues for "homemade liquids and solids," or take a short drive down U.S. 287 to the inviting patio at Pumphouse Brewery and toast your victory — or drown your sorrows over losing a disc to the lake.

Estes Park is a charming backdrop for a rodeo that does feature professional competitions but in reality retains far more of its small-town feel than not. The 89-year-old event runs July 6-11 this year, and in addition to the usual bareback bronc riding, team roping and barrel racing — and, of course, mutton bustin' for the young'uns, along with a "cash catch" where kids have to grab $5 off sheeps' butts — the Rooftop Rodeo runs a parade complete with royalty, trick riders and clowns, as well as prizes for the best float and marching band, and a real hoedown dance to live music, which may result in some participants needing to stop in at Cowboy Church on the final day. In addition, the rodeo offers an up-close look at the animals, the competitors, and a lot of manure during a Behind the Chutes tour, an add-on to the regular rodeo ticket that's worth it just to chat with the cowboys and cowgirls. Yeehaw!

Colorado can't get enough of its warm-water mountain retreats, and last year Glenwood Springs was graced with a new, unique getaway: Iron Mountain Hot Springs. This sixteen-pool oasis gives soakers a spectrum of multi-temperature relaxing options, with naturally heated waters ranging from 99 to 108 degrees. Cool off with a swim in the large freshwater pool, or continue the tranquil journey in the bubbling whirlpool. A trip to this geothermal wonder can easily be an all-day affair, with the on-site Sopris Cafe offering sandwiches, pizza and frozen yogurt along with a full-service bar (you can have drinks delivered to a pool) and plenty of patio seating so you never have to leave. Whether it's the middle of winter or a warm summer evening, Iron Mountain Hot Springs is a mini-resort made for unwinding year-round.

Team Pain's concrete crew was at it again this year, adding a field-trip-worthy 15,000-square-foot skate park at Loveland's new Mehaffey Park to a Colorado portfolio that now includes thirteen of the state's finest skate spots. The City of Loveland Parks and Recreation Department started consulting with local skaters on the design three full years before the official August 2015 grand opening, and collaborated with Fort Collins-based landscape architecture and environmental planning firm Logan Simpson to integrate it into the 64-acre, $13.6 million park. The skate park itself is a beauty, with a large flow section, a street course with several innovative rails and ledges, a self-contained bowl with stairs in the shallow end and pool coping all around, and a very cool snake run winding around a feature designed to look like a giant tree stump.

Readers' choice: Denver Skate Park
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Keystone's A51 terrain-park system — a repeat Readers' Choice winner — is made up of six terrain parks targeted at helping skiers and snowboarders work their way up to its biggest features. Start on Easy Street, a beginner-friendly lap through smallish jumps, rails, boxes and other features, then head to the Park Lane jump line under the Peru lift, a dedicated terrain-park chairlift that means your biggest hits will get you hoots and hollers from above, while your biggest misses could land you on Jerry of the Day. There are larger rails, boxes and jumps in the "intermediate" I-70 zone, and skatepark-style jib features in the Alley, all meticulously groomed by staffers who actually ride those features and know what's good for you. By the time you're landing tricks on the enormous three-jump set on Main Street, just below the top of the chairlift, your season video edit should be in good shape.

Readers' Choice: Copper Mountain

For a just-barely inbounds experience, obsess over forecasts to get yourself to Steamboat on a powder day, then make your way ASAP to the Morningside lift from the back side of the resort. Look for the radio tower to your right as you unload. Take a deep breath — you'll be well above 10,000 feet of elevation by this point — and then point for the tower. Ride down to the gate for Christmas Tree Bowl (drop in here if it's untracked and save the walk for later), then unbuckle and start the brief hike to the summit. From there you'll have several options, all of them down steep and lightly gladed chutes punctuated by several cliff-drop line options, and all on terrain that you won't believe is an actual run. No Names, North St. Pat's and East Face are all excellent — and essentially all the same run — but No Names has the best name and is the easiest to return from once you're out of the steeps and in danger of getting bogged down in the flats. Alternately, keep hiking for a few more yards and take a selfie for your mom by the skull-and-crossbones side-country warnings.

Readers' choice: Drunken Frenchman, Winter Park

Some of the biggest airs in the history of snowboarding were launched from the 22-foot halfpipe in Vail's Golden Peak Terrain Park in March, when the Burton US Open rolled through. In the men's contest, Shaun White actually soared above the 25-foot measuring stick, executing a lofty backside air that managed to be as impressive as any of the more technical spins farther down in his winning run. In the women's contest, fifteen-year-old Chloe Kim sent her own massive backside air far down the pipe, gathering speed for back-to-back 1080s. Vail's pipe crew kept it in top form for weekend warriors all season, grooming the walls to competition specs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not quite ready to send your own tricks fifty feet above the flat bottom? Try warming up on the smaller pipe — also on Golden Peak, but featuring less-imposing thirteen-foot walls — to build up some confidence.

The biggest shot fired in the season-pass wars for the 2015-2016 ski and snowboard season was the news that Vail Resorts would be offering the Epic Schoolkids Colorado Pack, free passes to all elementary-school students in Colorado in grades K-5, expanding on the School of Shred hook-them-while-they're-young program previously offered to fifth- and sixth-graders. The Epic Schoolkids pass is good for four days each at Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Vail and Keystone, with restrictions around the holidays, and includes a free rental and first-timer lesson package for one-time use. Registration for the 2016-2017 Epic Schoolkids passes began on March 28; be sure to sign up before the season gets under way, because it's a limited-time offer.

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