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Race Crested Butte’s Alley Loop

CBNC_Alley Loop Fairies by Chris Ladoulis web

Here at Bootprints, we take some pride in the diversity of our readership. Some of you are hardcore athletes looking to push your limits. Others are day-drinking costume enthusiasts, and still more of you are just looking to try something new.

Well we found something for all of you. The Alley Loop Nordic Marathon, which goes down in Crested Butte Feb. 6–7, is one of the most popular ski races in the state. It’s also Crested Butte’s biggest costume party of the year.

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Ride snow at Copper’s WinterBike

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Some people just aren’t in sync with the rhythm of the seasons. You’ve probably seen them playing on roller skis in July and eating peaches in March. And you’ll find a whole lot of them this weekend at Copper Mountain’s WinterBike races.

The 15-mile race will start at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, and is open to races of all abilities on all sorts of bikes. Because the terrain is mostly covered in snow, however, most racers will use special fat-tire snow bikes.

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State Forest State Park’s full moon hikes

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We have no way to know whether seeing a moose by the light of the full moon is on your bucket list. But if it is (and we think maybe it should be), then we have the trip for you: a full moon snowshoe through State Forest State Park.

The park, which is home to more than 600 moose, just announced that it will once more host its “Full Moon Open House” event Jan.31 and Feb. 28. Those aren’t quite full moon nights (the moon will be waxing gibbous), but both are Saturdays.

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Climb Grizzly Peak (it’s easy)

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Mountaineering is cool. That’s why pictures of mountaineers are all over those motivational posters in your office (you guys have those too, right?), and why every preschool-aged boy and girl wants to grow up to be Sir Edmund Hillary.

But climbing big, snowy mountains is scary—and it’s hard. So most of us have never gotten the chance to try it. Unless we’ve tried Grizzly Peak, that is. The 13,427-foot summit can be reached by a (relatively) gentle climb that makes the peak an accessible winter prize for mountaineers of all abilities.

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Worship Ullr in Breck

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To maintain favor with their gods, which presumably was needed to keep the sun coming up every morning, the ancient Aztecs famously pulled the still-beating hearts from hundreds of captives, slaves, and other die-hard sunrise enthusiasts. 

The Norse god of snow is not so demanding. But the worshippers of Ullr still flock by the thousands every year to Breckenridge (Jan. 11-17), where they sacrifice their livers and their dignity in return for a plentiful powder harvest.

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Trailhead Tip: Rabbit Ears Pass

Showshoe Trail web

 

It might not look like it on the Front Range, but snowshoe season is here. So if you haven’t broken in your equipment (or your legs) just yet, we suggest a trip up Rabbit Ears Pass near Steamboat Springs.

The main five-mile out-and-back trail is a popular early season snowshoe destination due to ease of access and to Steamboat’s dependable snowfall. Unfortunately, it’s also a popular destination for snowmobilers. So we recommend branching off onto one of the non-motorized connecting loops.

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Colorado’s best Nordic skiing

This winter, just say no to lift lines. Clip into your Nordic skis and glide past the teeming slopes into the quiet, peaceful backcountry. Besides being one of thebest forms of aerobic exercise, Nordic, or cross-country, skiing is a great way to enjoy the mountains.

Aspen/Snowmass Nordic System

Aspen_Snowmass web

With more than 60 miles of trails, this is one of the largest free cross-country ski systems in the U.S. The system connects the towns of Aspen, Snowmass, and Basalt—make a day of it by skiing from town to town.

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Snowshoe Copper… for free

Moonlight Snowshoe_web

So the snow is finally here. And while that’s exciting news for skiers, boarders, and most dogs, we know it’s a real bummer for avid hikers. Well… it’s a real bummer for those avid hikers who don’t snowshoe.

Or at least it used to be, back in the dark days before Copper Mountain offered free snowshoe tours. Resort staff leads guided hikes every day when conditions allow, and the trips are tailored toward hikers of all (okay, most) ages and abilities.

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Colorado’s best winter trails

Winter can test the willpower of even the most dedicated outdoor lovers. These three trails offer the best that winter hiking can offer, and are rated from easy to difficult (i.e., from “bring the kids along” to “get ready to have your ass kicked”).

Tote a pair of snowshoes along just in case—all of these trails are walkable year round, but get fairly snow-packed in midwinter.

Bear Lake—Estes Park (RMNP)

Bear Lake - photo by Josh T. of The CO Hiker web

This flat, 0.6-mile loop is a great trail for kids or beginners through a beautiful area of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). The trail offers spectacular views of Hallet Peak, Half Mountain, and Longs Peak. Nearby boulders often form gigantic icicles, turning the area into a veritable winter wonderland.

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Ski the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of Gunnison - photo by Liba Kopeckova

Southwest Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of the country’s lesser-known national parks—but that’s not for lack of splendor. The park’s namesake is 1,800 foot gorge carved by the Gunnison River, with walls steep enough to keep it shadow for most of the day.

The “Black” is already popular (read: infamous) among climbers in the summer months, but the park’s six-mile out-and-back South Rim Road makes it a worthy destination for snowshoes and cross-country skiers in the snowy season.

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