Category Archives: Cities and Towns
Before we delved into the presents, food and general laziness of Christmas morning, my brother and I headed up to the Incline for a quick early morning workout. The Incline is generally full of icy patches and packed snow from late November until April, and hiking it becomes almost more about foot placement than conditioning. Thankfully, and pretty late to the game, we have discovered Yaktrax which make hiking this thing much more manageable. Starting the day by hiking 2000 feet while the sun is rising is a great start to Christmas mornings. Check out our gallery below for a glimpse into how the Incline will look for the next few months.
Last week the Girl came out for a long weekend. We haven’t explored a lot of Denver so her trip was a good excuse to spend a couple of days in town, check out the neighborhoods and explore some of the various food and drink joints that I’ve been hearing about. Below are the places we checked out and our impressions.
Lohi Steak Bar: in need of a late night meal we were pointed towards Lohi Steak Bar (3200 Tejon Street ) in Highlands Park, northwest of downtown Denver. The meat centric menu was surprisingly diverse with open faced steak sandwiches to portabello mushroom burgers. Our shrimp po’ boy and steak sandwhich were good. Not huge portions for the price, but a good late night meal. The best part about Lohi is the atmosphere; great bar setup, lots of attractive people and a fun setting. Lohi also plays host to one of the most attractive waitresses I’ve ever seen. Wow.
Café Calienté: we hit up this place in need of a quick lunch and a cup of coffee. Located in Highland Park’s 32nd Street (think lots of restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops and bars), Café Calienté (3701 W. 32nd Ave.) has a lot of good sandwich and quiche options and the coffee is decent too. The owner is excited about every person that comes in, making you feel like her most valued customer before you’ve even made it to the counter.
Crema: I had heard about this new coffee joint located on Larimer, north of Downtown (2862 Larimer) through some Denver restaurant magazines. As someone addicted to the Bean I was intent on checking this place out. When we pulled up my high hopes climbed a little bit higher; funky industrial type facade, wood centric interior with a minimalistic design. Very hipster, very cool. And the coffee?…not as good. In fact, you could say it burst my little bubble. We ordered Americanos which were slightly watery, not very strong and definitely not what I was hoping for. They were still good, but no where near Portland’s Stumptown offering. However, they do French press the coffee, a good indication of a shop serious about coffee. The most glaring issue at Crema is the service, which was incredibly weird; the guy behind the counter was trying to do eight things at once while the other barista was hanging out and talking. It was almost like they were unprepared for more than two people ordering at a time. Hopefully they get it together, Crema would be a great addition to the Colorado coffee scene.
Bitters Bar (at Happy Noodle House): For happy hour on Friday we ventured up to Boulder to check out Happy Noodle and the Bitters Bar (835 Walnut Street). This is my new favorite happy hour place in Boulder. Fun and innovative drinks, great happy hour food at minimal prices and a really cool and cozy bar setting. Wood paneling, a subdued Asian motif and necktie and vest rocking bartenders make this place feel like a Prohibition style speakeasy, classy-Japanese style.
Hi*Rise: for our last breakfast in Denver we were told to check out Snooze (2262 Larimer Street, and 2 other locations), a local Denver breakfast spot that is highly touted as an indication of Denver’s improving dining scene. Unfortunately, it’s so touted that there was a line out the door. A good sign, but not a good strategic move when trying to quench the girlfriend’s need for food. So instead we hit up Hi*Rise (2162 Larimer Street), an artisan bakery with a variety of breakfast and lunch options. My egg and cheese sandwich with chorizo on a jalepeno bagel was good, albeit not nearly spicy enough (why can’t restaurants stop dulling flavors to appeal to Americans who are used to the blandness of crappy manufactured food?). The Girl’s breakfast sandwich on a croissant was also good, but again kind of benign. However, it tasted like everything was extremely fresh. And that is the appeal of Hi*Rise; nothing innovative or too out of the box but everything is fresh and simple. Not somewhere I would take out of town guests, but a good stop for a lighter meal.
Pho 95: our last stop in Denver on our way out of town, Pho 95 (1002 South Federal) is a hole in the wall restaurant strategically located in a rundown strip mall in a rundown part of Denver. It also served up the best meal of the trip. Giant bowls of noodles, veggies and meat accompanied by a giant plate of fresh bean sprouts (mung beans), basil and limes. My veggie bowl and the Girl’s seafood bowl where both amazing and incredibly fresh tasting. We also tried out one of the best coffee drinks I’ve ever had: espresso dripped into a cup of condensed milk. Heart attack in a cup, and I loved every drop. Pho 95 was incredibly packed but the service was incredibly quick and efficient. You know a pho place is good when you are the only doofy white person in there. Definitely one of my new favorite restaurants in Colorado.
Having obsessed over the Northwest food scene for the last couple of years I was truly hesitant to embrace what Denver had to offer. But as we’re quickly finding about Colorado, the food scene here is good, and getting better all of the time. I’m not ready to abandon my loyalty to Portland as my favorite food city, but Denver is starting to make a strong case for mixed allegiances.
We briefly wrote about the NCAR Climb, located in Boulder, CO, in our route guide of the NCAR/Eldorado Canyon Loop, but this one deserves a guide of it’s own. Its a good, quick climb that is great for hill intervals or just as a warmup or cool down piece.
The NCAR Climb generally begins at the intersection of Table Mesa Drive and Lehigh Street, in South Boulder. From the intersection, the route begins a moderate climb up Table Mesa Drive as it cuts northwest through a neighborhood before it turns into Ncar Road. After the ride passes the neighborhood the climb becomes less steep and maintains a fairly consistent grade to the summit. The Ncar Road portion of the climb winds through a wide meadow and along the foothills of the Flatirons, providing for a lot of great views of the mountains and the plains that surround Boulder.
At the top of the climb is the National Center for Atmospheric Research building (hence NCAR), which is where we turn around and head back down (the road dead ends, you have no choice). The descent is one of the fastest and most fun in Boulder, with one straight section that provides for a lot of efforts at obtaining top end speeds on the bike. Once we hit the Table Mesa/Lehigh intersection we either turn to head back home, or continue on to the longer loops in the area, such as the El Dorado Canyon Loop mentioned above. This route is also a great place to log some miles and hill work in the running shoes.
Do it because: it’s quick, accessible and provides a good hill workout and a great place for intervals. The descent is incredibly fun and the views are great.
Distance: 1.8 miles for the climb (starting from the intersection of Table Mesa and Lehigh). It’s about a 11.4 mile roundtrip if starting in downtown Boulder (at the intersection of Pearl Street and 9th)
Directions: From the intersection of Pearl Street and 9th, head south on 9th and hop on the Boulder Creek Bike Path and take it East. At the Broadway spur head south on Broadway and remain on the bike path which will eventually take you all the way to the intersection of Broadway and Table Mesa Drive (make sure to check out our map). Take a right on Table Mesa (there is a bike lane) and continue on. The climb starts at the intersection of Table Mesa and Lehigh Street.
View NCAR Climb in a larger map
Waldo Canyon is located West of Manitou Springs, in the foothills of Pikes Peak. The canyon contains one of the more challenging trail runs in the area. The trail’s long climbs and overall altitude gain have the Waldo Canyon run a popular training route for those preparing for the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon.
The overall setup of the trail resembles a big lollipop. The first section is about 2 miles long, winding up the hillsides before entering the actual canyon. This first section is pretty gradual, winding mostly uphill until the last 1/2 mile, where the route descends to an open meadow. About 100 yards past the meadow, the trail splits, forming a 3.5 mile loop (there is an obvious sign). To the left the trail winds up a narrow canyon, following a creek. To the right, the trail climbs steeply up a number of switchbacks, cresting numerous times onto ridges before eventually dropping into the canyon with the creek.
I have run the route counterclockwise, which starts with a series of steep switchbacks before leveling out as the trail runs along two ridges and then eventually starts winding downhill. It looks like either way is equally difficult as both require steep climbs right at the beginning. Regardless of which way you take, the views within the loop are amazing; canyon walls, Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods and Red Rocks Canyon are all within sight.
The trails is fairly heavily populated, but it seems like most people stop at the meadow and avoid the loop. The trail is dog friendly too. Waldo is my new favorite run in this part of Colorado, one that definitely makes it easy to come back for more.
Map with elevation profile and terrain details.
Do it because: great views of Pikes Peak and the surrounding area, a challenging trail run with a good mix of climbs, flats and descents
Distance: 6.85 miles round trip: 1.69 to the beginning of the loop, 3.47 for the loop, 1.69 miles back to the trailhead.
Directions: From downtown Manitou, head West on Highway 24 for about 2 miles. The parking lot and trailhead is on the right. Watch for a sign on the right hand side of the Highway that indicates a trail is ahead.
View Waldo Canyon – Manitou Springs, CO in a larger map
Editors Note: This is Casey’s first entry on TWW and we had a few problems with the pictures. After getting everything figured out we have finally thrown up the post, a couple of weeks late but whatever. Thanks to Casey for a great article and providing a constant source of humor for the entire weekend.
I apologize for the tardiness of my little contribution here. The coffin races were a couple of weekends ago, but I prefer to think of it as timely considering that it should help everyone get in a festive mood for the fall.
The weekend of October 24th was the 15th annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Parade. It’s awesome that the weirdest part of that sentence is that this town has done this 14 times before. Hopefully the research and archives staff at TWW can provide an informative explanation of how the event came about because even now I have no idea why this happens. First of all, I realized quickly that it was no coincidence that I would experience this thing for the first time by getting woken up by a one eyed black cat licking my face. An hour later I vomited at the top of Manitou’s famous Incline in front of a lovely couple and some high schoolers. I was wondering why I had gotten out of bed at all and this was before we had even set foot in the town. Here is what we walked into once we finally made it. Continue reading
Kinfolks is a bar, disguised as a gear store, fronting as a music venue. Originally starting as a outdoor store that focused on climbing and hiking, Kinfolks has shed most of its gear store identity and has morphed into one of Manitou’s most popular bars. Close to some of Manitou’s best trails, including the Intemann Trail and the Incline, Kinfolks is one of our favorite spots to recharge with a great beer. Long and cozy, the bar area is surprisingly spacious, especially considering the fact that the front part of the store/bar is still dominated by gear racks. Kinfolks has the best microbrew tap in the town; providing a revolving selection of micros from around Colorado and the West Coast.
Kinfolk’s small stage, which hosts small shows throughout the year, fits cozily near the back of the bar and provides enough space to host about 30 to 40 seats with additional standing room. The shows here are generally small bands and solo acts which tend to focus on folk music. Not exactly rockin’, but still a fun place to see some good local acts.
Each bar in town has its own little following. Kinfolks is the Patagonia/Columbia/up scale mountain hippie crew, which provides for an interesting mix and a good respite from some of the more drinker intensive watering holes in town. The best part about this bar, besides the beer, is that dogs are definitely welcome.
Location: 950 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, CO 80829
Hours: Sunday 12PM to 8PM, Monday and Tuesday 3PM to 1oPM, Wednesday and Thursday 11AM to 10PM, Friday and Saturday 11AM to 11PM
Contact: 719-685-4433, email@example.com