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part 2 of 3 Best Day Hike Cathedral Lake White River National Forest, near Aspen This five-mile hike begins in a grove of aspen, passes through high-mountain valleys and rock slides, and ends at timberline and the lake, which is bordered by the immense rock formations that gave it its...
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part 2 of 3
Best Day Hike
Cathedral Lake
White River National Forest, near Aspen

This five-mile hike begins in a grove of aspen, passes through high-mountain valleys and rock slides, and ends at timberline and the lake, which is bordered by the immense rock formations that gave it its name. Take Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs toward Aspen; shortly before reaching town, take a right at the Maroon Bells turnoff and follow the signs to Cathedral Lake trailhead (the big stone church at the turn is a good landmark). The drive alone is worth it, especially in the fall when the aspens are turning.

Best Urban Nature Hike
Boulder Creek Path
Skaters, bikers, runners and walkers in the know have enjoyed this scenic route along Boulder Creek for years. Completed in 1987, the $3.3 million project made the vast and scenic area in Boulder Canyon accessible to recreationists everywhere. And now the path has earned national recognition. Earlier this year, it was among eight river-restoration projects across the country to receive awards from the Washington-based American Rivers Symposium. That should clue everyone to what many of us already know--that the Boulder Creek Path is a great place to get away from it all without going very far from home.

Best Wheelchair Hike
Jim Creek Nature Trail System
Winter Park Resort

Although there are fat-tire wheelchairs out there hardy enough to traverse a typical mountain trail, the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation's outdoor center in Winter Park's Jim Creek area provides satisfying outdoor experiences for people driving stock models. The 1.2-mile loop, dedicated last summer and maintained by the National Sports Center for the Disabled, provides easily navigated, barrier-free paths with wide boardwalks crossing the creek, as well as campsites with wheelchair-accessible tent platforms and cooking grills.

Best Night Hike
Full Moon Hikes
Roxborough State Park
South of C-470 off Highway 121

You won't need a backpack--and probably not even hiking boots--for these cosmopolitan nature affairs. But you might leave with a spare tire. Led by volunteer naturalists, the hikes combine two favorite things--moonlight and desserts--against the uncanny backdrop of Roxborough State Park's jutting red-rock formations. Invariable sellouts, the hike-(and eat)-by-night events benefit the Roxborough Land Fund, established for the acquisition of the Southdowns area adjacent to the park.

Best Intercontinental Link
American Discovery Trail
The newly configured American Discovery Trail is actually a network of existing trails and links that work their way across the state, from the Kokopelli Trail at the Utah border to Old Bent's Fort on the Santa Fe Trail. The route passes through all of Colorado's varied terrain, allowing access along the way to wilderness areas, urban nature pockets, historic sites and just plain beautiful expanses. A northern route heading out of Denver toward Nebraska and Iowa is in developmental stages.

Best Day Trip

Peak to Peak Highway
Estes Park south to Central City
Want to see awe-inspiring slices of high country from the comfort of your car, all without the speed and monotonous traffic of I-70? The Peak to Peak, north of the interstate and west of Boulder, is 65 miles of scenic wonder, with panoramic views of the Continental Divide and charming high-country towns along the way. And if you want to avoid the gambling crowds that have overrun formerly tranquil Central City and Black Hawk, hang a Louie at Nederland and head back to town.

Best Day Trip

Central City/Black Hawk
Hey, it's not Vegas. But you can lose as much cash as you like in this Colorado gambling center, even if voters thought they were approving only "limited stakes" gaming (no bet over $5) when they voted to allow gambling four years ago. These two Victorian mining outposts were crumbling into obscurity before the slot machines and roulette wheels came to town. Now spruced up with Old West storefronts and late-twentieth-century traffic and stress, the twin mountain towns are a surreal but fascinating experience less than an hour from downtown Denver.

Best Ski Resort in Summer
Steamboat Springs
Featuring rodeos nearly every weekend, classic car races, miles of bicycle trails (they even let you bring your mountain bike up the ski-mountain gondola or will rent you one at the top), classical-music concerts on the mountain, great restaurants and Western flavor, Steamboat Springs is Aspen in the summer--without the glitz or the price.

Best Mountain Weekend for Plain Folks
West on I-70, then south on Colorado 91

Once a booming Victorian silver town, sitting pretty under the ominous watch of fourteeners Elbert and Massive, Leadville long ago shed any claims--staked or otherwise--to rural chic. At the harsh altitude of just over 10,000 feet, it never was a stylish ski mecca, and since the Climax molybdenum mines faded, Leadville's hardy mountain people will welcome you tourists happily if you respect their habitat and clean up after yourself. You can bed-and-breakfast it or rent a small house for the weekend, and urbane campers can stoke up on caffeine in the town's coffeehouse or shop junk-and-antique stores. And there are lots of things to do and explore. Leadville has historic sites, a train ride and Jeep tours. Don't miss the Mosquito Pass burro race, an annual summer event that starts in the middle of town and is accompanied by Boom Days--a funky street celebration for locals and tourists alike.

Best Hot Springs
Mt. Princeton Lodge, south of Buena Vista
There are those tireless sightseeing dynamos who leave everyone else panting a block behind. Then there's the rest of us, who just want to sleep, bathe and eat. Let the world turn. What do you care? Mt. Princeton is your kind of place--it has pleasant rooms for overnighters, a couple of hot tubs and a healthful restaurant where the chef is happy to prepare dishes exactly as you want them, whether they appear on the menu or not. Best of all, it has the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, where you can sample any of three outdoor pools or creekside rock baths. And if you get too sleepy or soggy, there are plenty of scenic drives in the area or rafting trips nearby on the roiling Arkansas River.

Best Spring Fling
Great Sand Dunes National Park
San Luis Valley, near Mosca

Beautiful any time of year, the Great Sand Dunes have an added attraction during the spring runoff: a seasonal stream that flows along the base, creating a beach. There are both developed and undeveloped campsites. But sneak away from work a little early--they tend to fill up on weekends.

Best Summer Afternoon Water Sport
Evergreen Lake
Highway 74, west of Evergreen

Just 45 minutes from Denver, Evergreen Lake in the summer features canoe and paddleboat rentals. Take an afternoon to glide across this beautiful mountain lake. Or just sit in the middle and watch the clouds pass over the surrounding hills.

Best Place to Wing It
Wings Over the Rockies Aviation and Space Museum
Hangar One, Lowry Air Force Base

Wings Over the Rockies is no fly-by-night endeavor. One of the now-defunct Lowry's first public places, it features a hangar full of vintage aircraft--fighters, bombers, gliders, helicopters and other magnificent metal birds. But if you've ever had the itch to climb behind the controls of such a beast, wait until the museum hosts an Open Cockpit Day. You and your junior birdmen can climb on board for an inside view of selected aircraft and even get your pictures taken while manning the stick. Playing top gun in these incredible flying machines just could be the thrill of your life--and you never even have to leave the ground.

Best Patch of Urban Grass (Street View)
1801 Blake St.
Sure, the turf of Coors Field just two blocks away is more expansive, but the little strips of green that line the railings at 18th and Blake are just as impressive. Every year, building tenant Scott McFarlane carefully plants grass seeds along the six-inch-wide railing, then tends the sprouts through the summer, watering the grass and, when needed, clipping it with fingernail scissors.

Best Patch of Urban Grass (Alley View)
Alley between Blake and Wazee streets, 1900 block
The dog days of summer are upon us, but for the pooches who reside near this alley, the living is easy. Their owners recognized the fact that loft living is great for humans but doesn't do much for their best friends, who must travel blocks before they reach a patch of grass where they can do their business. So they decided to bring the park to their pets, and did so with a remarkably tidy--if extravagant--solution. Every week they have a new square of sod laid down in the alley, then let the dogs loose. At the end of the week, they simply roll up the old sod and discard it.

Best City Park
City Park
Ancient City Park has suffered through more than its share of danger and disrepair. Still, it's an undeniably beautiful place, with a freshly renovated lakeside pavilion, sculptures, pools, fountains and plenty of big, shady old trees. And the park is up to its ears in family attractions: the ever-expanding and endlessly explorable Denver Zoo and Museum of Natural History, five baseball diamonds, an adjacent golf course and--hallelujah!--Sam Taylor's rib joint, just north of the zoo on York Street. There's plenty of room, too, on City Park pathways for the joggers, Rollerbladers and bikers who keep colliding at overcrowded Wash Park. Keep an ear out for this summer's evening jazz concerts by the lake, where plans are being made to restore the old fountain, once lit with changing colors. Can paddleboats be far behind?

Readers' choice: Washington Park

Best Picnic With a View
Daniels Park, Douglas County
Set squarely between Highlands Ranch and Sedalia, between U.S. 85 and I-25, Daniels Park has long had an ignominious reputation for nighttime woodsies and keggers. By day, however, the park--outfitted handily with outdoor grills and picnic tables--is surprisingly peaceful and nice to look at, set on rocky bluffs overlooking the piney blue-green swells of pre-foothills hills and, off to the south, on a cloudless day, the more forbidding crests of Pikes Peak and the Rampart Range. Along Daniels Park Road, you'll encounter a buffalo herd as well as the occasional bluebird flying among periodic roadside bluebird houses. And if you go on a weekday, the park is nearly always deserted.

Best Park for Kids
Bellevue Park
Bellevue and Inca streets, Englewood

Bellevue Park features two large playgrounds, one designed for bigger kids and one for the toddlers. After Memorial Day, there's also a petting zoo and a miniature train that offers rides for 50 cents each; three and under are free. On hot summer afternoons, kids--and their parents--can dip their toes in the creek that burbles through.

Best Fort
Fort Vasquez Museum
13412 U.S. Highway 85, Platteville

Originally a fur-trading post, the adobe Fort Vasquez was built in 1835 by furmeisters Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette. It was abandoned only six years later, falling victim to time and weather. Rebuilt in the 1930s as a New Deal project, the fort became a museum dedicated to its own mountain-man roots and featuring displays of fur-trading artifacts. The recently renovated (again) museum's interesting historical slice of life can now be enjoyed with modern amenities--wheelchair ramps, a new heating-and-cooling system, an improved visitor center and all the trappings.

Best Ghost Town West of the Continental Divide
Colorado old-timers can still remember when Tincup, perched off Cottonwood and Cumberland passes at what seems like the top of the world, really was a ghost town. But now the picturesque one-time mining village nestled above the gorgeous Taylor River Valley has summer guests, and even a restaurant where tourists, alive and well, can have a bite while exploring their surroundings. The Tincup cemetery, though, carefully divided into denominational sections despite its small size, is a reminder of more rugged days.

Best Ghost Town East of the Continental Divide
St. Elmo
Deep in the looming Sawatch Range, surrounded by peaks and slope-hugging passes, St. Elmo seems like it should be hard to reach, but it isn't. Head southwest out of Buena Vista, sliding right between Mt. Princeton and Mt. Antero, past the gnarly gray and handsome Chalk Cliffs. Eventually you'll come to St. Elmo, a dusty row of shacks and old businesses (some of which appear to be inhabited by the living) staring up at the backsides of Tincup and Cumberland passes. Makes you feel like a prospector, gosh darn it. Bring supplies and stick around--just east of St. Elmo, there's a campground with picnic tables.

Best In-Line Skating Spot
Meridian office complex
I-25 and Lincoln Ave.

Washington Park is bumpy, and the various bike paths around the city are crammed full of, well, bikes. Which makes the Meridian office complex, off the Lincoln Avenue exit from I-25, the place to go. The place is mostly empty, so traffic isn't a problem. And a vast expanse of smooth concrete whips in a huge circle around the buildings. Skate to your hamstrings' content.

Readers' choice: Cherry Creek

Best Cure for a Sore Butt
In-line skating lessons Ski Tech
700 S. Pearl St.

Every Saturday morning at 9, the Ski Tech crew teaches the basics and not-so-basics of in-line skating. For $10 if you've got your own skates--$15 if you want to use theirs--you can learn to skate and stop, join the intermediate group for crossovers, or even learn how to skate backward with the experts. These bladers know what they're doing, and they never make you feel like an idiot. So stop grabbing at trash cans and signposts--and save your backside from yet another reunion with the pavement.

Best Live Sports Coverage
1995 Bolder Boulder
KCNC-TV/Channel 4

A sprawling event that takes place on residential streets, business strips and Folsom Field, the Bolder Boulder poses much more of a challenge to TV producers than your average Broncos game. Kudos, then, to Channel 4 for making this year's contest thoroughly captivating from start to finish. The station got a boost from the marquee events: Kenyans Delillah Asiago and Josphat Machuka won the women's and men's races with record-setting times. And thanks to 23 cameras and the intelligent commentary of Les Shapiro, Frank Shorter, Tim Cronin and others, those achievements were brought home beautifully.

Best Easy Ski Run You're Not Embarrassed to Say You Like
Lostboy, Vail
This lovely, green-circle cruiser, served by high-speed quad lift number 7, winds gently around the southwest side of Vail's Game Creek Bowl, affording a spectacular view of the Mount of the Holy Cross. Lined by fir trees, the broad run is a beginner's delight, but its name conceals a harrowing tale. One afternoon in the 1970s--Vail folk can't say exactly when--fourteen-year-old Martin Koether vanished in the area the trail now occupies. Next morning, rescuers found him huddled in a snow cave he had built--not much the worse for wear, but forever remembered.

Readers' choice: Schoolmarm at Keystone

Best Extreme Ski Run
Spiral Stairs, Telluride
So much of Telluride is steep and deep that its challenging black-diamond runs would qualify as double diamonds elsewhere, and its double diamonds are...well, in the words of one local, generally "white-knuckle and bone-rattling." Care to perch atop a mogul and rest your elbow on the mogul behind you? That's Spiral Stairs. Interested in negotiating a ten-foot jump halfway down a 47 percent slope covered with five-foot bumps? Spiral Stairs. Care for the sensation that you're about to fall off the earth and land on a Victorian rooftop 3,000 feet below? That, too. Still not awed? The escape route from Spiral Stairs is called The Plunge.

Readers' choice: Drunken Frenchman at Winter Park/Pallavicini at A Basin (tie)

Best All-Around Ski Area
The addition of Peak 7, with its *!#!* steep runs, makes the skiing menu at this old-timer area a bona fide smorgasbord--with a much lower ticket price than Vail. There are now four mountains offering plenty of action for every type of skier, from wide bunny slopes to well-groomed intermediate to trees to bowls to steep and deep.

Best Nostalgic Skiing
Ski Cooper
The point here is not to expect extensive terrain or the latest lift technology, but to revel in the lack of hassle and expense. Originally a training ground for the Tenth Mountain Division during World War II, Ski Cooper evolved into the ultimate family ski area, with wide, easy, uncrowded meadows and a few bumps to spice things up. Lift tickets were $23 last year--but coupons always made them lower--and lift lines were nonexistent. Parking is a breeze, the lodge is small and friendly, and it's all downhill from there.

Best Children's Ski School
Children's Centers at Peak 8 and Peak 9

Just because you're paying out the nose doesn't mean you don't feel guilty leaving your child in a babysitting mill while you ski your brains out all day. Breckenridge's Children's Center will rob you of the Martyr Mom syndrome. Small classes, enthusiastic instructors, macaroni and cheese for lunch and an ultra-beginner slope inside a faux castle all contribute to your kid's sense that skiing is fun, not exercise. You'll want to quit before they do, which is good--so be sure to make reservations several days in advance.

Best CU Football Player (We Hope)
Koy Detmer
Detmer started just two games as a true freshman in 1992, was red-shirted in 1993 and completed only ten of nineteen passes in a back-up role last season, but rookie Buffs coach Rick Neuheisel believes Detmer, the 21-year-old junior quarterback, is not only more gifted than his big brother Ty, who starred at Brigham Young, but he may be "the next Joe Montana." That's saying a lot for a largely untested leader, but the fortunes of this season's revamped CU offense are likely to ride on the strength of his arm.

Best CSU Football Player
Greg Myers
A first-team All-American last season as a junior and a three-time all-Western Athletic Conference pick, the 6-3, 195-pound safety from Windsor combines speed, savvy and heart in equal measures. Last year he was in on forty tackles, including 32 solo stops, had three interceptions and doubled as a punt return specialist. He's not bad in the Colorado State classroom, either: The biology major's 3.69 grade-point average is tops on the Rams roster. Myers's senior year for coach Sonny Lubick should be a treat, and NFL scouts will have their eyes on him.

Best Local Sports Coach
Sonny Lubick
About five minutes after Colorado State University's astonishing 10-2 season was over, the big-time Miami Hurricanes came courting Lubick, one of the most popular coaches in CSU history. After all, he had been defensive coordinator at Miami for three years. But now he demurred. Long downtrodden, the Rams were just getting started, Lubick said, and he wanted to stay in Fort Collins. The Rams' faithful couldn't have been more delighted if their club had beaten Brigham Young on the road (which they did in 1994), knocked off powerful Arizona in Tucson (that, too) or played a bigger, stronger, faster Michigan team tough in the Holiday Bowl (yes, that too). The forecast for Hughes Stadium in '95? Hot and Sonny.

Readers' choice: Mike Shanahan

Best Sports Play
The Miracle in Michigan
September 24, 1994. Late afternoon at Michigan Stadium. Four seconds left. Wolverines 26, Buffs 21. On the last play of the game, CU quarterback Kordell Stewart takes the snap, ranges back to his own 28-yard line and lets fly a mighty prayer. The ball arches high over the gridiron, is tipped by a defender at the goal line and, as if from nowhere, CU wide receiver Michael Westbrook materializes in the end zone, gathers the ball onto his fingertips and tumbles, pigskin cradled in arms, into a thousand front-page newspaper photographs. CU 27, Michigan 26, in one of the most dramatic finishes in college-football history.

end of part 2

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