Best Public Park for Social Distancing 2020 | City Park | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

With 330 acres of land (some of which are devoted to the now-shuttered Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science), City Park offers plenty of space to sprawl, walk, run, bike or just lounge on a blanket. With glorious views of the Denver skyline and the Rocky Mountains, a walk around the ponds makes the world feel a little bigger at a time when everything feels rather claustrophobic. So breathe fresh air, be around people without being too close to them, and enjoy one of Denver’s greatest treasures for people of all ages. If your peregrinations take you past the zoo, you might be lucky enough to see a baboon peering down at you from the trees.

While you can trek to the mountains for more serious sledding, there's a block-wide area in Denver's Jefferson Park neighborhood that has all you need for a few thrilling runs (you'll have to bring your own sled). You don't have to hike to get there, parking is fairly easy, and the hill slides into the park rather than toward the street, making it safer for little ones. The slope isn't overly steep, either, so you don't have to worry about uncontrollable speed.

While most courses yell at you crazy kids to get off their lawn in the off-season, Raven Golf Club in Silverthorne opens up its front and back nines, allowing snowshoers and cross-country skiers to take advantage (for free!) of the powder against a backdrop of snowcapped peaks and lodgepole pine, from sunrise to sunset daily. The trails are groomed several times a week; just BYO gear and then follow the signs to see where you can and can't go.

Sitting above Highway 58 and Coors Brewery, North Table Mountain is a popular place for a day hike. And with a sunny cliff-band along its southern side that doesn't get taller than sixty feet, it's become a go-to spot for locals to try outdoor rock climbing. The area is also perfect for learning new disciplines of climbing, since there are over 200 sport routes (climbs with bolts for protection) as well as over 200 traditional or trad routes (where protection is placed into and then removed from cracks). If you don't feel ready to lead yet, don't worry: North Table offers plenty of easily accessible top-rope-only routes.

Any peak-bagger worth his or her stuff sack knows that not all of the state's fourteeners are fabulous, and that there are way more thirteeners — 584 at last count — to choose from, many with more interesting routes and better views. Grizzly Peak, a failed fourteener — it lost twelve feet in the last official measurement — is currently the highest thirteener, at 13,988'. While no Grizzly route is easy, the eight-mile Couloir Classic provides the most traditional mountaineering approach, and the panoramic views of the Continental Divide and Garfield Peak make this a must-do. Just be sure to hit the right Grizzly: There are six of them over 13,000 feet in Colorado.

Colorado's fourteeners might draw in tourists, but not all 53 mountains that reach above 14,000 feet are accessible to beginners. However, Quandary Peak, located just south of Breckenridge, is a great choice for tourists. It gains around 3,400 feet in elevation, but the terrain is mellow, and the 6.7-mile trail is well marked. Expect the hike to take from four to six hours, and feel free to bring the pooch (leashes are required). The east ridge gets especially crowded on summer weekends, so plan accordingly.

Summiting Longs Peak via the Keyhole Route is a rite of passage for Colorado hikers, though not an adventure to be taken lightly. The trail traverses Class 3 terrain, so you must have a strong stomach for exposure and be well prepared for emergencies. On top of that, this out-and-back trail is 14.5 miles long and requires route-finding along narrow ledges where no obvious trail exists. Most people begin the trek in the dark, hitting the trailhead at 3 or 4 a.m., as it can take between ten and twelve hours to complete. Needless to say, this shouldn't be anyone's first fourteener, but it's a worthy challenge for those who are up to it.

The Isabelle Glacier Trail offers exceptionally dramatic vistas of rugged peaks on its way past a small waterfall and two scenic mountain lakes. Take advantage of opportunities to view wildflowers, hear native songbirds and spot moose, elk, deer, marmots and pika. The moderate, well-maintained trail starts at the Long Lake Trailhead in the Brainard Lake National Recreation Area. The 8.6-mile round trip starts at an elevation of about 10,500 feet and gains about 990 feet, so take warm clothing and rain gear. Expect afternoon thunderstorms in the summer.

The aptly named Eagle's View hike at Reynolds Park near Conifer is appealing not only because of that forest view — which starts midway and is dominated at the summit by the north face of Pikes Peak — but also because it's a gently sloped and well-marked trek that allows you to get out there any time of year. At 4.3 miles and a 1,010-foot elevation gain, this lollipop loop takes about two hours, ideal for a snowy sojourn. Spikes are good to have on hand in the winter months.

Nestled between Golden, Lakewood and E-470, William F. Hayden Park is a picturesque oasis within spitting distance of Denver. Although there are a number of trails worth exploring in the park, our favorite is the Summit Loop Trail, which takes hikers to the top of Green Mountain, where they can enjoy views of Denver as well as the plains to the east and peaks to the west. The trail is especially beautiful in summer, when wildflowers dot the surrounding hillsides.

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