Willis Case Golf Course
Courtesy Willis Case Golf Course Facebook page

Over the years, Willis Case has done nothing but improve, from a $4 million clubhouse remodel to a more recent upgrade to the on-course bathrooms. Less than ten minutes from downtown, the entire course, part of the Denver Golf family, offers a view that spans the Front Range from Pikes Peak to Longs, which makes for some spectacular play (good luck concentrating on the ball after the panorama of the first tee). This is kind of an everyman course, though; the medium-slow greens, open fairways and no water make it hard to lose a ball here, and lavish landscaping all around, plus strong stands of pine that provide shady rest stops and plenty of parking, add up to an above-par experience. Not to mention that the fees are $28 weekdays and $40 on weekends.

Readers' Choice: Arrowhead Golf Club

Ironbridge Golf Club
Ironbridge Golf Club Facebook page

Tom Lehman revamped the original Arthur Hills design of this Glenwood Springs gem in 2014, which resulted in cutting back the bunkers from seventy to forty and a kinder, gentler back nine (though still a rugged series that starts off with four holes known as the "Lost Horizon"). In stark contrast to the meadows of the front nine, the back comes with rock walls, a drive across a ravine, deep gullies and jaw-dropping views across the Roaring Fork Valley, including of Mount Sopris. You'll get more of a workout here than golf is known for — the steep course, with its fast greens and sweeping slopes, gains 495 vertical feet before the twelfth tee — and be prepared for the sand, water and tall grasses that will try to take your ball. The only public course in Glenwood Springs, Ironbridge is also meticulously maintained, and the practice facility is top-notch. Also, did we mention that it's in Glenwood Springs? There's a soak in your future.

Readers' Choice: Fossil Trace Golf Course

Colorado Journey Miniature Golf
Colorado Journey Miniature Golf Facebook page

We're talking about new arrivals here, because the aptly named Colorado Journey is a little trip through some of the Centennial State's best-known attractions. Two eighteen-hole courses, each xeriscaped with native plants and individually themed, depict must-see spots for the just-arrived, including Garden of the Gods, the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings, Eisenhower Tunnel, St. Elmo and the Cripple Creek Mine. Some holes have water features or other hazards, and the scorecards offer reading material on the sites, so you can get educated while your friend takes forever lining up a shot. Check it out at sunset, another Colorado icon, and don't forget to take notes on which places you want to visit soon.

Tiny Town Miniature Golf
Courtesy Tiny Town Miniature Golf Facebook page

Tiny Town Miniature Golf is a native, too, one that for more than sixty years has offered reasonably priced entertainment in what invitingly feels like a 1970s paneled basement of mini-golf courses. The eighteen holes serve up old-school putt-putt scenes like a windmill and a crocodile, but the nineteenth hole is special: A hole in one gets you a free game. Sadly, Bob Mitchell, who started the Tiny Town course in 1965, passed away in 2016; the good news is that nearby Trout Haven Resorts bought it and spent the past year upgrading the site. And the commitment Mitchell had to making mini-golf fun for the whole family is still there in spirit, along with his beloved flower gardens.

What was once the Arapahoe Greenway Trail was renamed in the mid-'90s for Mary Hampton Carter, who as mayor of Bow Mar in the '70s also took over leadership of the South Suburban Park Foundation, helping the organization pave the way for more trails and greenways in the area. Her namesake eight-mile, multi-use path winds through the southern suburbs along the tree-lined South Platte River, between West Dartmouth Avenue in Englewood and Viable Road in Chatfield State Park. Not only does it exemplify the best of urban bike corridors — the foundation stays on top of improvements, recently cutting the number of signs along the trail in half to put in better ones that were more easily understood, adding more parking en route and upgrading crushed-gravel spurs — but it also connects other trails in the Denver metro greenway system, including the South Platte River Trail, the Bear Creek Trail and the C-470 Bikeway. On any given day, you'll find commuters, families, dog-walkers, rollerbladers, you name it. Thanks, Mary.

Readers' Choice: Cherry Creek Trail

walkridecolorado.com

Ready for a ride you won't forget? Park at the lot for Beverly Heights Park, located at the base of Lookout Mountain Road, to embark on a 4.3-mile, 1,300-foot ascent from downtown Golden to the summit of Lookout Mountain. Arguably the best hill climb in Colorado, this ride was included in the U.S. Pro Challenge not once, but twice. If the 5 and 6 percent grades don't take your breath away, we guarantee the stunning views will. Bonus: The top of the ride is also the site of Buffalo Bill's grave. Cyclists can stop off at the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave to re-up on water and snacks before zooming downhill, preferably toward Coors Brewery.

visitgolden.com

If you're up for a big ride, the whole Lake Dillon Loop enchilada is 41 miles and goes from Breckenridge to Frisco, around Lake Dillon and on to Keystone, gaining more than 2,000 feet in elevation and pretty much ensuring that you'll need a late-afternoon nap (note that the majority of the uphill comes during the return to Breckenridge). For the less motivated, the 18.6 miles around the lake itself is a lovely ride at half the elevation gain, with the chance to see a moose or two, short but sweet sections through lodgepole pine, and plenty of views of the lake. Numerous spurs offer the chance to add more mileage. The best part, though, is the many options along the way for refueling with good food, coffee or cocktails.

summitbiking.org

A push for intermediates and still darn challenging for advanced riders, White Ranch just north of Golden is classic Colorado singletrack, with a little doubletrack thrown in for good measure. With plenty of technical drops, rock gardens that may require some walking, soft sand and several wavy-gravy sections, the twenty miles of trails offer something for everyone, but mostly for the more experienced rider. The hurtin' starts with the four miles of climbing on Belcher Hill, with a 1,849-foot gain. Once you reach the top, there are a few options for downhill fun, including 2.2 miles of rocky, tree-rooted, tight-turning trail, plus periodic planks and drops. That's nothing, though, because Maverick to Longhorn is probably one of the best top-to-bottom trails in the state; not only does it offer the usual ruts and rocks, but it also has several smooth, sweet singletrack sections for speed demons who can handle switching back and forth. The good news about that brutal climb: It's all gonzo going back down.

Readers' Choice: Buffalo Creek

Golden

jeffco.us

Teaching kids how to mountain-bike in Colorado is just like teaching them how to ski: You can't make it so painful and unpleasant that they never want to do it again. The clean, clear Shadow Pine Loop in Conifer — not so far that it's a chore to get there, but far enough into the foothills to feel like you're mountain-biking — is just right for introducing the finer points, from pushing a little on the uphill and navigating singletrack to watching for pedestrians and crossing a small bridge. Most of the 3.4-mile lollipop loop trail, some of which is a little wider than typical singletrack, is completely shaded by trees, and the initial ascent is about as gentle as it gets, a very gradual climb that opens onto a meadow and the chance to see some elk and deer. The return downhill is easy but fun, too, and pretty much guaranteed to make your budding biker a lifelong fan.

Conifer

mtbproject.com

Mountain bikers have discovered what cross-country skiers have known all along: The Dirty Bismark, which runs alongside the Morgul Bismark road-race course, is a winter wonderland, a rural paradise that's perfect for fat-tire fun in the snow. More plains riding than mountain, the fifteen-mile loop trail, known locally as the "Happy Meal Loop," alternates between singletrack and dirt road, but you still get plenty of mountain views all around, as well as a little bit of uphill and a lot of wide-open prairie to fall into without hitting anything but powder (and maybe a few cows).

Marshall Mesa Trailhead

bouldermountainbike.org

Best Of Denver®

Best Of