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Hike steep in the Sangre de Cristos

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Colorado’s hiking season is almost over, and that’s a bummer. But if you’ve been getting after it this year (and we know you have, right?), there’s still time for at least one big hiking challenge, so this week we’ve tracked down one of the toughest hikes on the Front Range: the grueling climb to North Crestone Lake.

Perched high in Southern Colorado’s Sangre de Cristos (and at the base of the Crestone 14ers), the lake is accessed by a grueling six-mile climb, which takes hikers from 8,800 to 11,840 feet in about seven hours.

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Hike the San Juan Huts

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Overnight hiking trips are good for the soul. But carrying your shelter, sleeping bag, stove and kitchen sink is bad for your back. And your knees. And your attitude. So for many hikers, the overnight trip is more of an aspiration than a habit.

Enter the San Juan Hut System: a series of five isolated huts connected by 30 miles of trail in the mountains above Telluride and Ouray. The huts are stocked with cookware, fuel and bedding, and sleep up to eight people. The San Juan Huts team provides hikers with maps, directions and GPS waypoints for the trip.

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The Great Novice Race

 

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Adventure races are intimidating  and not just because their courses are wild and rugged or they demand mastery of three or four (or five) outdoor sports. They also attract a certain brand of goo-eating, spandex-wearing superathletes, who have a way of scaring any and all regular folks away from the start line.

But not the Genesis Adventure Race, which comes to Palmer Lake Oct. 11. To qualify for the race’s top prize (the value of which they’re keeping suspiciously secret), teams must include at least one adventure race novice.

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Hike RMNP’s Hague Valley

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More than three million people visit Rocky Mountain National Park every year. And the park’s heaviest visitation days are right around… now. So if you want to enjoy the best of Estes this weekend, we suggest you avoid the usual spots. 

Our weekend pick is the 15-mile out-and-back Hague Valley Trail, which tours the alpine valley of the same name. Chances are good that you’ll have the 450-acre valley more or less to yourself – save a few birds, marmots and elk.

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Celebrate Elktober in Estes

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Colorado’s best Oktoberfests

Oktoberfest is what you make it. And all too oftentowns choose to make it the same tired combo of oom pah music, big pretzels, and antique car shows (why?).

But Colorado does have three truly great Oktoberfests: mountain town events that bring together great beer (in great quantities), authentic food, and quirky events. So throw on your lederhosen or drindl, fill your stein, and Prost!


Vail: Sept. 5-7, Sept. 12-14

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Vail’s base area is about as Bavarian as it gets (in Colorado, anyway) so it’s not surprise that the resort town is the only one in the state to do Oktoberfest twice. The festivities in Lionshead went down last weekend, but they’re doing it all over again this weekend in the Vail Village.

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Colorado’s best fall hikes

We live in a beautiful state. And it’s about to get a heckuva lot more beautiful. Autumn’s changing colors are among the state’s best spectacles – and like most things in Colorado, they’re best experienced in the backcountry.

So when the crisp air comes, consider one of our favorite autumn hikes below.


 Hessie Trailhead to Lost Lake

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This easy 1.4-mile out-and-back trail is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. With a rolling valley chock full of aspens, it’s an especially eye-popping excursion in the fall. The trail ends at the alpine Lost Lake, ringed by snow-capped peaks.

If you go: Mid-September is prime time for Aspen viewing at Lost Lake. You’ll want to bring a windbreaker (even on clear days). Leashed dogs are allowed.

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Colorado’s funkiest fall events

Colorado is a weird place.

Seriously – the state’s roster of unorthodox diversions knows no bounds, from one of the nation’s largest zombie crawls along 16th Street Mall to an annual festival for a frozen dead guy in Nederland.

And that’s just the beginning. So break out your finest flannel top, coffin-mobile and gorilla suit, and embrace the Centennial State’s weirdness this fall.

Man of the Cliff – Sept 27-28

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Lumberjacks-in-waiting, this one’s for you. With events like archery, wood chopping and caber tossing, the two-day Man of the Cliff competition is an ode to all things uber-manly.

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The Colorado Selfie Adventure

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Taking selfies in the great outdoors is tacky (and sometimes even deadly). But we’ve all done it. Those profile pictures don’t take themselves, after all.

And now – for maybe the first time – there’s a good reason to mug for the smartphone. Our friends at the Denver Beer Co. are hosting an outdoor adventure selfie scavenger hunt across the state, and the prize is free beer for a year.

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Cyclo-cross… WTF is it, exactly?

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Let’s be honest: Come late summer, the thought of spending hours and hours in a bike saddle isn’t quite as enticing as it was in April. Even die-hard cyclists need a break from the… um… grind.

Enter the weird world of Cyclo-cross (also called “CX” or “cross”): a sort of obstacle race/cycling hybrid sport that pits racers against logs, grassy hills, mud pits and fellow cyclists – during 45 minutes of lung-searing competition.

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