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Short Day/Long Day: Castlewood Canyon

Way back in 1933, the Castlewood Canyon Dam in Franktown burst and sent a 15-foot wave of water all the way to downtown Denver. It was a bummer at the time, but it also helped establish one of the most unusual hiking and rock climbing destinations in the state. And besides, we never liked dams anyway.

Just 45 minutes from downtown Denver, the 2,136-acre Castlewood Canyon State Park is a great weekend getaway for the Mile High crowd (and it’s even better for hikers in Colorado Springs). Read on for our favorite Castlewood hikes.

Short Day: Canyon View Trail

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Canyon View Nature Trail is a short, pleasant walk well-suited for families with small children or visitors from sea level. The 1.2-mile paved trail is handicap accessible, and stays near picnic grounds, restrooms, and the visitor center.

Canyon View connects to a 12-mile network of hiking trails that criss-cross the park’s east side. If you’d like to cover a little more ground, we recommend connecting the Inner Canyon Trail to the Lake Gulch Trail for a two-mile loop.

Getting there: From the East Facilities Visitor Center parking lot, head northeast on the clearly marked paved trail. The Canyon View Nature Trail and the Inner Canyon Trail can also be accessed from the Canyon Point parking lot. Leashed dogs are permitted, and park day use fees are $7/vehicle. 

Long Day: Creek Bottom Loop

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More challenging hikes can be found in the less developed western end of the park. We recommend connecting the Creek Bottom and Rimrock trails for a four-mile loop that winds past both the scenic Cherry Creek Falls and the Dam Ruins Historic Site (where the dam actually burst)

This side of the park is also home to most of Castlewood Canyon’s rock climbing terrain. Many of the climbs are shorter that 30 feet, making it an excellent area for both the acrophobic and the inexperience lead climber.

Getting there: Take the Creek Bottom Trail north from the Westside Trailhead, then join up with Rimrock Trail after passing Cherry Creek Falls (which can be ice climbed in the winter). After crossing the Dam Ruins Historic Site, connect with Creek Bottom once more and head back to the trailhead. Leashed dogs are permitted, and park day use fees are $7/vehicle. 

Words by Camille Miller. 

Hike the CDT’s Henderson Spur

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You can’t live in Colorado with a fear of heights. Not happily, anyway. So this week, we tracked down a trail that will help you confront your acrophobia andexercise your lungs and legs. The scenery’s not bad, either.

The Henderson Spur is a 7-mile out-and back snowshoe trek at 10,555 feet near Winter Park. The trail connects to the cross-country Continental Divide Trail near Jones Pass, where snow often lingers until July.

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Colorado’s funkiest summer races

We know that not everyone is into running races. And we totally get that—running is free, after all. But we firmly believe that the finish line atmosphere is something no Coloradoan should miss out on.

So this week, we tracked down a few Colorado summer races that offer something… different. Read on, and you’ll see what we mean.

Race an outhouse in Breck

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Getting four guys (or gals) together to drag an occupied latrine down the street is exactly the sort of thing that will get you kicked out of Bonnaroo. But in Breckenridge, it’s a sanctioned competition. It has rules and everything.

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Race the Winter Park WipeOut

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At Bootprints, we have simple tastes. We like to spend time in the mountains, and we like to race. We really like drinking beer in silly costumes. And we don’t like to drive very far to do those things. So every year we save space on our calendars for the Winter Park Wipe Out.

Scheduled for Saturday, March 28, the Wipe Out is a 2.5-hour scavenger hunt / adventure race designed to appeal to racers of all ages. It’s the sort of race that involves tubing and party beads… so don’t worry too much about training.

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Run Colorado’s fastest trail race

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Running is free. But every year, Coloradans spend millions on registration fees for running events. And when we do, we’re paying for four things: an official time, a cool t-shirt, a finisher’s medal, and an excuse to drink beer in the morning.

The folks behind the Greenland 50k know this. The May 2 race has the fastest course of any trail race in Colorado, and this year they’ve doubled the size of the finisher’s medals. The shirts are non-cotton tech Ts, and the beer is… still beer.

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Hike Evergreen’s Elk Meadow

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Sure, it’s February. But three weeks of high temperatures have brought a premature thaw to the high country, and that means Colorado’s elk herds are already headed northward.

Just an hour from Denver, Elk Meadow Park in Evergreen virtually guarantees elk and deer sightings during the transition months. The area’s mild climate also makes it a boon to hikers, cyclists, and equestrians early in the year.

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Party over a cold, dead body

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If you’re among our longtime readers, you already know how we feel about Nederland’s annual Frozen Dead Guy Days. The three-day festival brings together costumed hooligans, quirky events and craft beer in a crunchy mountain town, and that pretty much puts it at the top of the list of our favorite things.

From March 13–15, the festival will celebrate the afterlife of Grandpa Bredo: a dead body cryogenically frozen with dry ice in a local Tuff Shed (no kidding—read all about it here). The party is now in its 14th year, and it’s bigger than ever.

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Run or hike at Green Mountain

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By now, you’ve heard it from everyone at the office—Colorado weather is weird. And while the Centennial state’s climatic quirks make for pretty dull conversation, they can definitely throw a wrench in weekend plans. So this week, we looked for a spot near Denver that isn’t often buried in the white stuff.

Enter Green Mountain—a mesa just a few miles west of Lakewood. The area contains more than 17 miles of awesome hiking/running trails. It’s known for mild weather and quick-drying trails, making it a draw for those folks who’d rather not wait until Memorial Day to lace up their hiking boots or trail runners.

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Race Crested Butte’s Alley Loop

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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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