Beer Man

Get Outside: Five Breweries to Visit Near Hiking Trails

Visit Red Leg Brewing Company after a hike at Garden of the Gods.
Heather Boehlke
Visit Red Leg Brewing Company after a hike at Garden of the Gods.
As the end of spring draws near, the snow melts in the mountains and gives way to hundreds of fantastic hiking trails. Colorado boasts some of the most scenic hikes in the country, allowing you to spend a great day in nature. World-class beer is near the base of many of these hikes, and there’s no finer way to end a day of outdoor adventure than with a couple of cold pints.

And if you’re heading to a hike in an area not covered here, there’s a good chance there’s a brewery nearby where you can sit back and reminisce about your adventure over a few beers. It doesn’t get much better than that.

While there are dozens of options, here are five standout breweries to visit after hitting some excellent nearby trails:
Palisade is also a great place to hit up wineries.
Palisade Brewing Company/Instagram
Palisade Brewing Company
200 Peach Avenue, Palisade
970-464-1462

Located in the heart of Palisade, this brewery's flagship beer is Dirty Hippy, a dark wheat ale that clocks in at a very drinkable 5.3 percent ABV. If wheat beer isn’t your thing, the brewery has a wide range of other beer styles including several IPAs. The partially shaded patio makes a great outdoor experience, while the cozy garage feel of the indoor seating is nice on those sizzling summer days. It also offers a food menu, with a wide variety of appetizers, salads and sandwiches.

Hike Here: Palisade Rim Trail
Difficulty: All Levels
Distance: 3.3- and 8.3-mile loops
Dogs: Yes
Mountain Biking: Yes
On the eastern edge of the town of Palisade, off the Colorado River, lies the Palisade Rim Trail. The hike offers quick gratification, with truly breathtaking views of the Grand Valley opening up only after a few hundred feet of elevation gain. The shorter loop is 3.3 miles with about 600 feet of elevation gain. For hikers with a higher level of endurance, the 8.3-mile, 1,400-foot elevation gain track will reward you with even bigger views of the valley below.
You might even catch sunset views during your stop at Elevation.
Elevation Beer Company/Instagram
Elevation Beer Company
115 Pahlone Parkway, Poncha Springs
719-539-5258

Elevation Beer Company is the star of the tiny town of Poncha Springs. It has barrel-aged specialties, including Signal de Botrange, a 9.8 percent ABV Chardonnay barrel-aged farmhouse ale that is a gem of a beer. Elevation also has easy drinkers like its year-round 8 Second Kolsch, among the best of its style in Colorado. The outdoor patio is the perfect way to wind down post-hike, with south-facing views of the mountains and an in-house food truck.

Hike Here: Monarch Crest Trail
Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced
Distance: Varies, up to 31.3 miles
Dogs: No
Mountain Biking: Yes
Located in the Gunnison National Forest, Monarch Crest is an extensive trail system that offers true alpine, backcountry hikes up to 31.2 miles in length. If that large of an adventure is intimidating, fear not: There are plenty of easier hikes available in this trail network. One good option is to start from the Monarch Crest Trailhead, at the Monarch Crest Gift Shop. There you’ll find a huge, free parking lot. You can then hike up the mountain, reward yourself with nearly instant expansive views of the mountain range and simply turn around when you’ve had your fill. If you prefer to hike in the woods along a creek, starting at Green’s or Fooses Creek, both closer to Poncha Springs, is another great option for an out-and-back.
Westbound's original location in Idaho Springs is the perfect after-hike pit stop.
Brandon Marshall

Westbound & Down Brewing Company
1617 Miner Street, Idaho Springs
720-502-3121

Westbound & Down makes a variety of IPAs, with a slant toward clean, bitter and flavorful West Coast styles. Its lager program is also one of the best in the state, featuring excellent beers such as The Coloradan, a Mexican lager, and Italian Pils, a dry-hopped pilsner. It also has an extensive food menu, led by chef Ben Plaksa — and a new second location in Lafayette, in case your hiking adventures take you in that direction.

Hike Here: Chief Mountain Trail

Difficulty: Moderate-Intermediate
Distance: 2.8 miles total, out and back
Dogs: Yes, leashed
Mountain Biking: No
Chief Mountain is located in Evergreen, about eleven miles or 25 minutes from Idaho Springs, and is part of the Arapaho National Forest. The trail is fairly short, at just 2.8 miles round trip, but has a somewhat steep elevation gain of 940 feet. The trail is plenty wide, and primarily shaded until the peak, allowing plenty of opportunities to catch your breath. Once you summit, the trail tops off at 11,700 feet of elevation, opening up with 360-degree views of the Rocky Mountains. If you’re looking for something a little longer or more challenging, Mount Evans is nearby and has an extensive network of excellent hikes.
Telluride Brewing/Instagram
Telluride Brewing Company
156 Society Drive, Telluride
970-728-5094

Chances are you’ve had a Telluride Brewing Company beer, even if you’ve never been to Telluride; the brewery's products are a staple in bars, venues and liquor stores all across Colorado. From its popular beers like the hop-forward Facedown Brown and Tempter IPA to more experimental offerings using hop terpenes, Telluride has a lineup of hoppy beers that will really hit the spot after a mountain hike. Its patio is next to the brown facade of the brewery, which is nestled against the forest, making you question whether you’ve even left your nature adventure.

Hike Here: Bear Creek Trail

Difficulty: Moderate-Intermediate
Distance: 5.1 miles total, out and back
Dogs: Yes, leashed
Mountain Biking: No
Bear Creek Trail starts on the south end of Telluride’s downtown area. About a half-mile in, the trail turns to follow the Bear Creek and rewards hikers with excellent views of the forest, mountains and creek. Just over two and a half miles in is the main attraction, Bear Creek Falls, a gorgeous waterfall of over 75 feet. For trekkers looking for more of a challenge, the Wasatch Trail connects just below the falls and provides five more miles of terrain to cover, ending at the gondola, which can then be taken into town. These trails can also be taken in reverse, starting with a free gondola ride up the mountain.
Red Leg Brewing Company/Instagram

Red Leg Brewing Company
2323 Garden of the Gods Road, Colorado Springs
719-598-3776

Veteran-owned and -operated Red Leg Brewing features one of the finest outdoor spaces in all of Colorado, with both upper- and lower-level patios, multiple food trucks on most days and a variety of lawn games, all while offering expansive views of the mountains.

Hike Here: Garden of the Gods Trail Network
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: Varies
Dogs: Yes, leashed
Mountain Biking: Yes, but very limited
On the western edge of Colorado Springs lies Garden of the Gods. This National Natural Landmark park features large sandstone formations that can reach heights of 300 feet. Throughout the park, you’ll find a wide variety of hiking options, mostly on the easier side. Typically hikers will combine several smaller trails to create a loop. One of the better options is the Cabin Canyon to Siamese Twins to Palmer and Central Garden Trail Loop. This 4.3-mile hike climbs a modest 616 feet in elevation and gives hikers a great tour of the park. A slightly shorter route — taking the Palmer, Buckskin-Charley, Niobrara and Bretag trails to form a four-mile, 449-foot elevation gain loop, takes hikers around the perimeter of the park. With about two dozen individual trails, you’re left with virtually unlimited options on how to link up these short trails and build your own customized experience.