The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings Near Seattle

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For many Seattleites—and many outdoorsy types in general, for that matter—the words hiking and beer go hand in hand and are often mentioned in the same sentence. Luckily, Washington has no shortage of either hikes or of brews—and there are ample opportunities to combine them. Any day spent going from a mountain summit with a 360-degree view, gushing waterfalls in the midst of old growth forests, or pristine alpine lakes surrounded by steep granite towers to a delicious craft pilsner, porter, or IPA is guaranteed to be a good one.

Here, our recommendations for the best hike and beer pairings in Washington, from Mount Si to the Snoqualmie Brewery, from the Enchantments to the Icicle Brewing Company, and more.

1. Mount Si | Snoqualmie Brewery

The hike up Mount Si is a Seattle-area classic.The hike up Mount Si is a Seattle-area classic. J Brew.

Visited by more than 100,000 people every year, Mount Si is a classic trek that’s on the must-do list of nearly every Seattle-area hiker. But don’t let its popularity fool you into thinking this is an easy jaunt: Adventurers come to Si for the challenge. Ascending more than 3,000 feet in just under four miles, the trail steadily winds up switchbacks to the amazing views from the summit that look out at the I-90 corridor, the Olympics, and Seattle.

Reaching the top of Si not only merits some serious bragging rights, but it also warrants some downtime to rest your weary legs while sipping on a cold one when you wrap up the trek. There is no better place to do so than the Snoqualmie Brewery. The taproom and restaurant is located just a few miles from the trailhead, with a menu that features more than a dozen year-round and seasonal beers brewed in house. Don’t leave without sampling the Haystack Hefeweizen, which was named for the rock formation that marks Mount Si’s true summit.

 2. Rattlesnake Ledge | The Growler Station

Rattlesnake Ledge is a great spot to sit back and take in the view with a brew.Rattlesnake Ledge is a great spot to sit back and take in the view with a brew. Samantha Larson.

A few miles farther east from Mount Si, Rattlesnake Ledge is another great hike in Snoqualmie Valley. The trail climbs for two miles alongside sword ferns beneath a canopy of evergreen trees adorned in tufts of lichens and moss, until it reaches a rock ledge on the east ridge of Rattlesnake Mountain.

The ledge looks out onto Rattlesnake Lake and the Issaquah Alps, the kind of vista that you’ll want to be able to sit back and soak up for a good while. And, of course, even the best views are taken to new heights with a brew in hand. Which is why you should stop at The Growler Station before hitting the trail, so you can bring something to drink to the top with you. Located on the way to the trailhead in North Bend, the Growler Station serves craft beers on the go from places like Schooner Exact Brewing, Black Raven Brewing Co., and Counterbalance Brewing Co. Once you reach the top, reward yourself with a few congratulatory sips at the summit—but don’t take so many that making your way back down turns into a misadventure.

3. Wallace Falls | The Prospector

The Prospector, in the town of Gold Bar, offers a relaxed atmosphere for beers and grub after a good hike. The Prospector, in the town of Gold Bar, offers a relaxed atmosphere for beers and grub after a good hike. Samantha Larson.

Wallace Falls is a beautiful, accessible hike almost literally gushing with rewards along the way, thanks to the cascading waterfalls along the route. After traveling along the banks of the babbling Wallace River, the trail then veers away as it climbs to the lower falls, then middle, then upper falls, which are located 2.8 miles from the trailhead. The water bursts down rock tiers into bowls below, with delicate mists rising up along either side.

The Prospector, located in the town of Gold Bar less than two miles from the trailhead, is a great spot to grab a beer and some grub at the end of the journey. This tavern is quintessential Washington, yet unlike anything you’re likely to come across in Seattle. It has fun, low-key vibe, hearty burgers and steaks on the menu, and a selection of beers on tap to help wash it all down.

4. Snow Lakes | The Icicle Brewing Company

Bottoms up!Bottoms up! Courtesy of Icicle Brewing Company.

Hiking to Snow Lakes in a day certainly warrants a treat afterward. Preferably, in the form of a delicious, crisp adult beverage that was brewed at the Icicle Brewing Company , just outside The Enchantments in Leavenworth. This brewery embodies Washington pride as much as it does the town’s quirky Bavarian theme, with the names of beers reflecting the state’s landscapes and history, such as the Crosscut Pilsner, Bootjack IPA, and Colchuck Raspberry Wheat.

5. Boulder River Trail | River Time Brewing

The Boulder River Trail is a great warmup for spending some quality time at River Time Brewing. The Boulder River Trail is a great warmup for spending some quality time at River Time Brewing. Samantha Larson.

The Boulder River Trail combines two of Washington hikers’ favorites: old-growth forests and waterfalls. This 8.6-mile round-trip trek follows along the Boulder River and is relatively flat, making it a nice break from so many of the other local trails that involve steep climbs. After beginning on an old logging road, the path narrows to a trail and, about a mile from the trailhead, brings you to a double waterfall surrounded by colorful monkey flower. Continuing on, you will travel deeper into the Boulder River Wilderness where you will see more and and more grand, old-growth trees.

But an essential ingredient for a truly good day on the trail is—you guessed it—beer. That’s where River Time Brewing comes in. Less than 10 miles away from the Boulder River trailhead, just south of the town of Darrington, this taphouse on the banks of the Sauk River is a wonderful place to sit outside and relax on a sunny day. The brewhouse, in Darrington’s old City Hall building, has a fun and friendly vibe and, of course, mouthwatering craft brews.

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Originally written by RootsRated. Featured image provided by Samantha Larson

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings in Los Angeles

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What can you say about LA? It’s a true global city. A mecca and a melting pot of all things art, history, culture, commerce, sports, celebrities, and yes, even the great outdoors. While it may never be known primarily for its outdoor possibilities, it does in fact have some stunning beaches, tons of fantastic hiking trails, and a number of high peaks that ring the L.A. basin. And with an essentially endless amount of restaurants and bars spread out among its conglomerate of suburbs, you really can get the best of both worlds when it comes to wilderness and watering holes. Here’s your guide to some of the best trail to tavern pairings in Los Angeles and beyond.

1. Hollywood Sign | Frolic Room

Since the 30's, the Frolic Room has been a mainstay along Hollywood Boulevard
Since the 30’s, the Frolic Room has been a mainstay along Hollywood Boulevard. Todd Sternisha.

Situated in Griffith Park—one of the largest urban parks in North America—the Hollywood Sign Hike is about as iconic as it gets. Images of the Hollywood sign—which originally read ‘Hollywoodland’ back in the 1920’s—are well-known across the world. The sign is located just above the Hollywood Hills, and there are numerous routes that take you to this historic spot. The route from the Griffith Observatory to the Hollywood Sign is perhaps the best. At 7 miles roundtrip, it’s a little long for some, but the trails aren’t very technical, and the sweeping views of the city will make you forget about the distance.

After the quick elevation gain and sweeping view of the city, you’ll likely want to follow a staple with a staple. So, head to the Frolic Room—a down-to-earth dive bar with cheap beer and free popcorn. Located on Hollywood Boulevard, this historic bar has been around since the 1930’s when it was rumored to be a speakeasy during the days of prohibition. There’s no telling how many famous patrons have entered its doors over the last 80 years, but as soon as you enter, you can sense you’re in a special place—a type of place where you wish the walls could talk. Maybe the best part about the Frolic Room is that basically nothing has changed (and that’s rare for L.A.). It’s just as it was back in its speakeasy days.

2. Escondido Falls | Neptune’s Net

Relaxing at Escondido Falls
Relaxing at Escondido Falls. Eric Chan.

Even with El Nińo, the waterfalls at Escondido have remained but a trickle. But that doesn’t mean the trail is lacking in interesting features. You’ll pass alongside bursting pepper trees and deliciously cell-reception-free periods. Dogs are allowed on-leash, and the area brings out anything from Tea Cup Poodles being toted in purses, to towering Great Danes panting and slobbering their way up the trail. The best part about this hike is the proximity to the Pacific Coast Highway. After being closed for much of 2015 due to a landslide, the cruise-ability of this stretch of iconic highway lends itself perfectly to a quick trip up to Neptune’s Net —a legendary roadside restaurant with burgers, beers, and of course the freshest catches of the day. Known as the spot where Tyler from the film Point Break slung burgers, this motorcycle hangout, deli-food-joint-hybrid is a must. Grab a beer from the cooler doors, claim a picnic table outside, and see if anyone’s scoring waves at County Line across the street.

3. Arroyo Verde | Topa Topa Brewing Co.

The rolling hills of Arroyo Verde Park offer the perfect place to enjoy a nice stroll above the Pacific Ocean
The rolling hills of Arroyo Verde Park offer the perfect place to enjoy a nice stroll above the Pacific Ocean. ienjoysushi.

The quaint and lightly-trafficked trails at Arroyo Verde Park offer an easy escape in the hills of Ventura. Winding through fields of wild sage, the swooping trails here deliver sweeping views of the Pacific stretching far off into the distance. The meadow encircled by the trail is often filled with bouncy houses and family barbecues on weekend days. But in general, these trails are uncrowded and tucked quietly in the hills.

Once you’re done with your hike, head on over to Topa Topa Brewing Co, a small on-site craft brewery where your bartender is likely to give you tips on a great full moon night hike, if you’ve still got the energy. The best part about this place (other than the beer, of course) is the good vibes and good company. This is a place where the pretense of Ventura is left at the door. And who knows? You may even find your new hiking buddy.

4. Matilija Creek Trail | Chief’s Peak

Ojai is a beautiful haven hidden in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles and east of Santa Barbara. Some know Ojai for its expansive vineyards and farmland, but what really makes Ojai exciting is its access to untapped and raw natural beauty. One of the highlight hikes in the area is the Matilija Creek Trail—an 8-mile path through a scenic canyon in the Los Padres National Forest. The further you travel into the canyon, the more secluded it becomes and the more swimming holes you’ll find along the way. You’ll likely get wet on this trail, so sandals are a good idea, as is an adventurous spirit.

When you’re ready for that post-hike wind down, head to Chief’s Peak, a hip beer and wine bar tucked into the back of the boutique Ojai Rancho Inn. The beer and wine selections rotate, but the good vibes are always there to stay.

5. Cheeseboro Canyon Trail | Twisted Oak Tavern

The golden grasses of Morrison Ranch in Cheeseboro Canyon
The golden grasses of Morrison Ranch in Cheeseboro Canyon. National Park Service.

If you’re looking to get out of the city a little ways, the Santa Monica Mountains to the west provide a large swath of wilderness expanse along the scenic Pacific Coast. One of the best hikes here is the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail . This 4.6 mile trail can be made into a loop route, or can be done as an out-and-back as well. Either way, hikers will be treated to uninterrupted views of what Southern California must have originally looked like, replete with rolling hills and groves of coastal and valley oak.

Nearby Twisted Oak Tavern is the obvious choice for when you’re done with your hike. Located in Agoura Hills, Twisted Oak is all about exquisite food, great drinks, and good company. With an in-house brewing operation known as The Lab Brewing Co. and a brewmaster who’s referred to around town as ‘Dr. Hops’, it’s no surprise that CraftBeer.com voted this place the best beer bar in California in 2016. And with a menu that features locally-sourced ingredients from the the backyard garden, you’re guaranteed to have an award-winning combination of food and drink.

Originally written by RootsRated.

Featured image provided by James Gubera

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings in Minneapolis

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Minneapolis is the quintessential urban nature city. With more than 50 miles of hiking and biking trails snaking through one of the best park systems in America, it can be easy to forget you’re in a major city. No day on the trail, whether it be hiking, biking, running, or skiing, can be complete without a stop to quench your thirst and fill your belly. These great trail to tavern pairings in Minneapolis will satisfy even the heartiest explorer.

1. Minnehaha Park | Sea Salt

Minnehaha Falls, the crown jewel of Minnahaha Park
Minnehaha Falls, the crown jewel of Minnahaha Park. Evan Miles.

Minnehaha Falls Regional Park sits in the heart of South Minneapolis and is home to the famous Minnehaha Falls, a 53-foot waterfall situated in an earthen limestone bowl. In the summertime, the 167-acre park is full of picnickers, cyclists, and hikers. Enjoy the park via the Grand Rounds National Scenic Bikeway , a 50-mile outdoor recreation loop that skirts through the park. Or get away from the hustle and bustle of the city by hiking along the shaded Minnehaha Creek and explore deep pools full of sunfish and smallmouth bass. This park is a true urban gem.

When you’re done with a long day of exploring, head up to the Minnehaha Pavilion and take in a delicious meal at Sea Salt Eatery. One of the best places to grab seafood in the Twin Cities, Sea Salt serves a variety of fresh fish, oysters, muscles, calamari, and anything else that once swam in an ocean. A sizeable selection of local beers and wine along with a rotating menu always keep this restaurant feeling fresh and tasting delicious.

2. Como Regional Park | Como Dockside

Como Dockside
Como Dockside. Eric Lemke.

Head over to the Minneapolis’ next door neighbor St. Paul and enjoy a day of strolling through the city’s iconic and historic neighborhoods. One of those neighborhoods plays host to Como Regional Park . This park has played a vital part in the lives of St. Paul’s residents for over 100 years. A zoo, public golf course, pavilion, lake, and miles of paved trails make this a popular spot for runners and cyclists during the summer months.

Housed in the historic Como Pavilion is the Dockside Restaurant, a recently renovated pub serving up New-American fare complete with an extensive cocktail list and an impressive local tap list. Take in views of paddle-boarders on the lake as you sip a Como Lemonade (Border bourbon, cranberry, and fresh lemon) and dig into a fried catfish po boy sandwich.

3. Midtown Greenway | Midtown Global Market

You're not short of options in the Midtown Global Market
You’re not short of options in the Midtown Global Market. Eric Lemke.

The crown jewel of Minneapolis’ extensive bikeway system, the Midtown Greenway is a 5.5-mile former railroad corridor that cuts through South Minneapolis with bicycling and running trails. For most of its distance across the city, the trail is grade-separated from the street grid which offers barrier-free bicycling that can make a trip across town faster than driving a car. Stop by the unique Greenway-level Freewheel Bike Shop if you need a quick bike tune up and don’t miss the several community gardens that have sprung up along the route.

When it’s time to grab a bite to eat, ascend to street level and head to the Midtown Global Market. This restored art-deco style building is home to an international collection of over 50 vendors offering the finest selection of produce, groceries, prepared food, and unique gifts from around the world. Find everything from Jamaican to Ethiopian as you wander through the indoor market space. Pay a special visit to Holyland Grocery and Butcher for their hummus or Taco Cat to get some homegrown tacos.

4. Fort Snelling State Park | 5-8 Club

A trailhead in Fort Snelling State Park
A trailhead in Fort Snelling State Park. Eric Lemke.

Fort Snelling State Park offers miles of paved and unpaved trails. Situated in the Mississippi River Valley, the park offers over 30 miles of paved and gravel hiking and biking trails, groomed XC skiing in the winter, swimming, and boating. Take some extra time to walk the trails of Pike’s Island which the Mdewakanton Dakota considered to be the center of the world and was also home to the first modern settlement in Minnesota.

After a long day exploring the river bottoms, head over to the 5-8 Club. This old style tavern, a much-fabled former speakeasy, has been a staple in the Nokomis neighborhood for years. Claiming to be the inventor of the Juicy Lucy, a cheeseburger that has the cheese in the middle of the patty instead of on top, the 5-8 has been serving up beers and burgers to local patrons for some 80-odd years. Be sure to give the original Juicy Lucy a try and grab a pint of Prohibition–era Grainbelt Premium beer.

5. Cedar Lake Trail | Fulton Taproom

The Fulton Taproom is a fantastic place to grab a brew after a day exploring the Cedar Lake Trail
The Fulton Taproom is a fantastic place to grab a brew after a day exploring the Cedar Lake Trail. RLevans.

The Cedar Lake Trail is the fastest and most scenic way to escape the noise of the city and head west to the suburbs. The 4.5-mile trail starts adjacent to Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins Baseball Teams, and quickly heads out of town through restored wild prairie where it meets up with numerous other trails. The 12–foot-wide paved trail gets busy in the summer with bikers, runners, and rollerbladers, so be sure to go later in the evening or early morning to avoid crowds.

After a summer-night’s stroll on the trail, make sure to stop at the Fulton Tap Room. Fulton has quickly become a staple Minnesota beer and their taproom does not disappoint. Situated just a few blocks off the Cedar Lake Trail (and next to Target Field) the tap room is the perfect place to wile away a long summer’s evening. Local food trucks are usually parked outside serving up grub. Try the popular Lonely Blonde Ale or Sweet Child Of Vine IPA or get adventurous with their Worthy Adversary Imperial Russian Stout. Either way, you’re in for a treat.

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Originally written by RootsRated. Featured image provided by RLevans.

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings in Washington DC

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Washington, D.C. may be famous for its politics, but a hidden secret for many is its proximity to a wide range of world-class hiking destinations. Within 100 miles of city limits lies not only the largest and oldest urban park in America, but also the famous C&O Canal, plenty of access points to the Appalachian Trail (in multiple states), and not one, but two national parks (Great Falls and Shenandoah). Add to this a thriving and growing beer scene, and you have the makings for a combination that all outdoor lovers can appreciate. After all, there are few things better than a cold one after a day on the trail. So, without further ado, here are DC’s best trail to tavern experiences. Please adventure responsibly.

1. Signal Knob | Backroom Brewery

In an idyllic setting, Backroom Brewery is serving up delicious beers made with hops and herbs from its farm.In an idyllic setting, Backroom Brewery is serving up delicious beers made with hops and herbs from its farm. Jen Adach.

Climb to the top of Signal Knob , and you’ll understand how it got its name. This 10-mile hike can be a challenging one, but it yields some seriously amazing views of the Shenandoah Valley. Signal Knob rests at the northernmost point of Virginia’s 71-mile Massanutten Trail, and these ten miles may be among the best along that entire route.

After taking in the views from the Knob, head down into the valley for some award-winning beer from the Backroom Brewery. What sets this place apart from the rest is that the good people of Backroom Brewery actually grow their own hops on-site, as well as roughly 120,000 of potted herb plants. Call it a testimony to the longstanding farming traditions in the Shenandoah Valley. A Rosemary Orange Amber is about as smooth and drinkable as it gets, and other hits include the Chili Red Ale and the Bay Roast Black Ale. With nearly 20 beer recipes approved by the state of Virginia, the inventive pairings will draw you back again and again to see what’s new on tap.

2. Wincopin Trail | Jailbreak Brewing Company

Relatively new to the area beer scene, Jailbreak is known for its inventive -- and tasty -- beers. Relatively new to the area beer scene, Jailbreak is known for its inventive — and tasty — beers. Jennifer Adach.

Make your escape out of D.C. and head north to the Wincopin Trails in Savage Park. This quiet park will surprise you with its long and wide trails, perfect for a midday stroll. Be sure to take the green trail which leads you by the the Little and Middle Patuxent Rivers, affording some of the nicest views along this stretch of trails.

Nearby Jailbreak Brewing Company is one of the newest breweries on the scene, and it’s pushing the envelope with its innovative beers. The Q.Cumber Saison is crisp and refreshing, while the Black Cherry Porter has a slight hint of sweetness beneath its malty viscosity. The brewery boasts a number of long tables and a good sized bar for tasting. Hungry? Check out the listing of food trucks to see which one will be parked outside the brewery.

3. The Potomac Heritage Trail | Port City Brewing Company

Running alongside the Potomac River, you'll barely realize that you're still in the Washington, D.C. metro area while hiking this trail.Running alongside the Potomac River, you’ll barely realize that you’re still in the Washington, D.C. metro area while hiking this trail. Jennifer Adach.

The Potomac Heritage Trail System aims to follow the explorations of George Washington by linking the Potomac and upper Ohio river basins on an ambitious 700-mile route. A section of the trail lies just within reach of metro D.C., starting from the parking lot by Theodore Roosevelt Island on the George Washington Parkway. Head north on the trail, which quickly drops down to the river and takes you past a number of scenic waterfalls and rock scrambles.

Continue to follow colonial DC stomping grounds and head to Port City Brewing Company in Alexandria for a pint. In 2015, Port City won the “Small Brewery of the Year” award at the Great American Beer Festival, also reeling in silver medals for their Porter and IPA and a bronze medal for their Oatmeal Wit. So, you can’t go wrong with any of these, but really any of their flagship, year-round brews are worth a taste. The brewery also offers a number of fun events during the week, including the popular BeerYoga night every Tuesday.

4. Catoctin Mountain Park | Brewer’s Alley

Hikers pause to enjoy a great view while hiking in Catoctin Mountain ParkHikers pause to enjoy a great view while hiking in Catoctin Mountain Park. TrailVoice.

Chimney Rock. Hog Rock. Wolf’s Rock. Blue Ridge. The names all match the great views you can get from hiking the myriad trails in Catoctin Mountain Park , nestled just north of Frederick, Maryland. An eight mile loop , starting at the Visitors Center, can bring you past most—if not all—of these sights, but it is equally easy to cut down the length for a shorter day.

Spend even more time rambling along the streets of Historic Frederick, and pop into Brewer’s Alley for some pints and good food. A stout day of hiking calls for an Oatmeal Stout, but it is always worth browsing the seasonal releases to see if something else captures your fancy.

5. Billy Goat Trail | The Irish Inn

Views of the Potomac River along the Billy Goat TrailViews of the Potomac River along the Billy Goat Trail. William Neuheisel.

The Billy Goat Trail (Section A) is a classic. These nearly four miles pack quite a bit of action, especially as you spend more than a mile of it rockhopping. As you make your way along the rocks, you’ll also get to enjoy the waterworks of the Potomac River as it courses through Great Falls and Mather’s Gorge. Adding to the excitement: views of whitewater kayakers carving their way down the rapids and rock climbers navigating some of the steep walls across the river.  Forewarning: This is a very popular hike, so it pays to go early to beat the crowds.

Cap off this classic hike with another classic: The Irish Inn at Glen Echo. Sometimes a good pint of a perfectly poured Guinness is what you need, and the Irish Inn delivers. A well-rounded menu of pub classics will give you good sustenance for the day, and the patio—open year round—is perfect for story swapping.

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Originally written by RootsRated. Featured image provided by William Neuheisel

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings in Telluride

Downtown Telluride, Colorado

20 years ago we got our start making fleece hats out of a garage in Telluride, CO. We’d go from the slopes to the office, climb a waterfall on our lunchbreaks  and end the night at one of Telluride’s best watering holes. So ya, we’ve got a soft spot for this little box canyon town. With 14,000-ft mountain peaks rising in the distance, nothing makes you want play hookie like a sunny day in the San Juan Mountains. And trust us, nothing is better for the soul than giving in.

Beautiful views await in Telluride, Colorado.Beautiful views in Telluride, Colorado.Rhonda Johnson

We call it the Trail to Tavern lifestyle. Spend a few hours getting your feet dirty outside, then kick ’em up with a cold beer at the end of the day. It’s easy to do in Telluride – since it’s a box canyon, every trail naturally leads you back to the taverns (no matter what the season). Here we’ve paired our favorite trail excursions with our favorite local bars. You’re in good hands – it’s a craft we’ve been perfecting for years!

Jud Weibe Trail + The Last Dollar Salloon (aka “The Buck”)

The Jud Weibe Trail starts and ends downtown, so it makes for a perfect trail to tavern experience. Named after the man who built it, the Jud Weibe is a go-to hike for Telluride visitors and locals alike (when the trail does not have snow) generally June through October. Start at the Aspen Street trailhead, where you’ll find a map kiosk next to a trio of boulders. Hike up and enjoy the 2,000 feet of elevation gain, which allows for beautiful panoramic views back toward town. You’ll cross Butcher Creek, walk through beautiful aspen groves, and be rewarded with a killer view at the trail’s high point of about 10,000 feet. Conveniently, this view and the bench to enjoy it comes about halfway through the 3-mile hike. Take a minute to soak it all in because it’s all downhill from here.

The Jud Weibe Trail is easily accessible by foot from downtown Telluride.The Jud Weibe Trail is easily accessible by foot from downtown Telluride.Ondrej Kavka.

At the bottom of the trail, you’ll pop out on North Oak Street, just a few blocks from what locals call “The Buck.” Officially known as the Last Dollar Saloon, this iteration of the local watering hole has been open since 1978, but the original saloon dates to 1899. With tin roofs and creaky wooden floors, the classic victorian building doesn’t hide its long history. The Buck doesn’t serve food; you’ll want to brown bag it, or have your name in for a table at the neighboring Brown Dog Pizza (more on that below).And don’t spend your last dollar, because you’ll want to put a couple in their jukebox (and as long as you don’t play “Don’t Stop Believing”, you’ll be welcomed back).

Telluride Ski Resort + La Cocina de Luz

Telluride ski resort has amazing skiing no matter what your skill level, but it’s known for diverse terrain, steep shots and deep powder. With over 300 inches of snowfall annually, you’re likely to get some good fresh snow, but you’re also likely to see a bluebird day, since Telluride gets an average of over 300 days of sunshine.

Even if you’re not visiting during ski season, you can ride up the gondola, a memorable part of any Telluride trip, and then hike or ride a bike down the resort’s network of trails.

The gondola at Telluride is a memorable experience in any season.
The gondola at Telluride. Ken Lund.

There’s nothing quite like a cheesy, spicy Mexican meal to help you recover after a full day of skiing or hiking. Finish your day (or get the evening started) at La Cocina de Luz. This restaurant focuses on whole foods and  a menu that will please every diner–whether vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free. If you’re there to recharge, try their organic juices. If not, start with a pitcher of house-made margaritas.

Bridal Veil Falls + Brown Dog Pizza

If we had to choose a single hike in Telluride, we’d be hard-pressed to find one that offers as beautiful a payoff as Bridal Veil Falls. The trail is actually an old jeep road heading up Black Bear Pass. The payoff we mentioned is the beautiful waterfall you’ll see, as well as the stunning views of the valley. This is no ordinary falls; Bridal Veil is Colorado’s largest free-falling waterfall at 365 feet. Round trip, the hike is only four miles.

Once you head back down into town, stop by Brown Dog Pizza, owned by Chef Jeff Smokevitch. Jeff knows pizza; he has studied at the International School of Pizza and has been rewarded for his hard work by winning top honors at the World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy. Ask for the pizza that won the competition, or choose from deep-dish Chicago pizza, Detroit style pizza, classic American (round) pizza, as well as calzones and stromboli. So pretty much everything is awesome. Brown Dog offers a full bar and a fully-stocked tiramisu that may single-handedly convince you to move to T-Ride.

Wasatch Trail to the Falls + Smugglers Brewpub

If you’re looking for something a little more technical and challenging, Wasatch Trail will also give you fantastic views of Bridal Veil Falls. Start at the Bear Creek Trail, join the Wasatch and then go up and over the saddle between the Bear Creek drainage and Bridal Veil Basin, just above 13,000 feet.

Bridal Veil Falls is the highest free-falling waterfall in the state of Colorado.
Bridal Veil Falls is the highest free-falling waterfall in the state of Colorado. Wikimedia Commons.

You’ll hike past evidence of Colorado’s mining history, wildflowers when they’re in season, and breathtaking views of Bear Creek Canyon. You’re in for a big day if you do the entire loop; be sure you have enough water, proper gear, and navigation tools (the guidebook always helps).

You’ll deserve a cold one when you’re done. Head over to Smugglers Brewpub for craft beers and farm-fresh Colorado meats. Nearly everything in the kitchen is made in-house. This careful attention to detail is carried over to the bar, which features house-made bitters and delicious spirit infusions. If cocktails aren’t your thing, award-winning brewmaster Thomas Daly creates a variety of seasonal beers and classic lagers.

Smuggler's Brewpub in Telluride
Smuggler’s Brewpub in Telluride. lulun & came.

Valley Floor Trail + The Butcher & Baker Cafe

Our last pairing is for those who are already familiar with Telluride’s classics and want to try out two of the newer additions to town. The recently-protected Valley Floor Trail offers amazing ski trails, biking, hiking, and trail running; while the relatively new Butcher & Baker Cafe has a variety of food options.

First, the trails: In the winter, the Valley Floor has a network of beginner-friendly groomed Nordic ski trails, easily accessible from town. You can run the trails in the winter, as long as you are on the designated multi-use trails. When the snow melts, the entire area becomes a playground for trail runners, hikers, and mountain bikers. With over 500 acres in preservation, this area offers about a dozen miles of singletrack trails, all flat or rolling. As you move around this open valley, you’ll get a different view of the box canyon that makes Telluride so special. To get there from town, just take the San Miguel River Trail west.

When you’re good and tired, head back east to the Butcher & Baker Cafe for killer fresh-baked pastries. If you must have some protein, they’ve also got a full selection of breakfast staples like omelets to complement the pastries. Check their schedule online for specials and events. They have liquor tastings and the occasional prix-fixe menu (the “Birds and Bubbles” dinner pairs homemade organic fried chicken and a flight of champagne. YUM). While these two haven’t been around all that long, we think they’ll become classics in due time.

Want to win a 4-day trip to Telluride for you and a friend?

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Prepare for your trip with our exclusive Telluride Heritage Collection:

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Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co. Featured image provided by Jared Skoviak

 

Trail to Tavern: Brews, Bottleshops and Bars in St. Petersburg

 

As part of our Trail to Tavern series, we reached out to one of our favorite road warriors, Katherine, to see if she had been hitting up any local trails and taverns around the country lately. In true form, she was on her way to Florida for a few days. Sticking to the downtowns and side streets of Tampa and St. Petersburg, FL, here’s Katherine’s take on the urban Trail to Tavern. Please read responsibly.

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My boyfriend and I love the craft beer scene. We’d heard a lot of good things about the breweries and beers coming out of the Tampa area and if you know anything about nearby St. Petersburg, you know it’s like the Mecca of craft beer in Florida’s central Gulf Coast. By no means an exhaustive list, here are some of the best places to blaze an urban trail and find a beer on either side of the Howard Frankland Bridge, from Tampa to St. Petersburg.

Green Bench Brewing is located in a hip area of St. Petersburg, FL. There are murals everywhere, good food, shops, and palm trees galore. The weather was HOT, but a cold beer made the warmth so much more enjoyable! It’s got outdoor seating and a huge, lively bar inside. And the best part is that it’s super dog friendly – pilsners and puppies make a great combo. Per the locals’ suggestions, we headed down the street to Bodega to grab an authentic Cuban sandwich and a fresh smoothie – to detox and refuel for the bars ahead…

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As we wondered 4th Street, we popped into Shep’s Beer Emporium. They had just about every Florida beer you could ever want, some great collaboration beers (where two breweries collaborate on a style/flavor) and some really knowledgable employees. One gal spent time showing us around, explaining a bit about the area and seemed to be the preemptive expert on all things hoppy and bubbly.

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If you’re in St. Petersburg, you have to stop by the Salvador Dali Museum. Even if you don’t go inside, you can still grab a beer at the cafe and walk around the outdoor exhibits. Just incredible architecture and outdoor art installations that make for a great boozy stroll on the way to the marina which is across the street.  The vibrant landscaping and palm trees pair excellently with any local beer.

Next stop, Cycle Brewing. This place is the real deal when it comes to small batches. They only serve their beers and you have to actually go there to try them. Each brew has a limited bottle release, meaning they only bottle a limited number and there’s a limit on the number of bottle each person can buy. Grab a drink before or after lunch then explore the blocks surrounding the brewery.

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Across the bridge is Tampa’s Jug & Bottle Dept. Browse the fridges or grab a beer on draught, and shop while you sip. They also have a good assortment of snacks and a few grocery items if picnicking is more your style. Definitely stop by this place on your way to a friend’s house if you need something to bring!

While at Jug & Bottle, some the employees explained the blossoming Florida craft beer scene and recommended that we head to the Independent Bar & Cafe to see it in action. It was the best suggestion of the trip because I had one of the best drinks of my life: The Brewski Slim Pickens Make Mama Proud Passionfruit Sour. My, oh my, this hit the spot in that heat and humidity! They were also hosting a Founder’s Tap Takeover on the patio (that happens to have giant air conditioners, so you can beat the heat outside!). Walk it all off with a stroll through Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood, known for it’s eclectic restaurants and bars and charming bungalows and victorians, and of course the Taco Bus. Might I suggest the butternut squash tacos – you won’t be disappointed!

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The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings in New York City

Finding world-class taverns and bars in New York City is easy. It’s finding the trails, which can sometimes be the challenging part. But if you know where to look—and in some cases, if you’re willing to venture outside the city limits just a little ways—there are some surprisingly great places to hit the trail. And when you do, there’s arguably nothing better than sipping on a nice, cold one after your time out in the wild. Here are five tried-and-tested, trail-to-tavern pairings that will be sure to make for a memorable (and refreshing) experience.

1. Bear Mountain | Defiant Brewing Company

Bear Mountain Bridge—views like these are worth running some hills! Ken

 

Hiking in Bear Mountain is one of the most fun trail experiences you can have without going far from the city. Combined with nearby Harriman State Park, there are roughly 50,000 acres of mostly forested landscape and 235 miles of trails between them. With chunks of the Appalachian Trail in the park, plus plenty of other gorgeous single-track trails that are—especially on weekdays—rarely overcrowded, it’s a breath of fresh air (literally and figuratively) if you’re used to pounding pavement in the city.

Once you’re done hiking, you can make your trip outside the city even more fun if you swing by the Defiant Brewing Company in Pearl River on your way back into the city after your hike. Pro tip: if you’re not the designated driver home from this adventure, live large and try the O’Defiant Stout—the creamy, dark Guinness-esque beer will not disappoint, and will fill you up even if you did a 20 miler!

2. Prospect Park | Brooklyn Brewery

Beer has dispelled the illness which was in me Daniel Lobo

 

Brooklyn doesn’t really call to mind nature and nice trails, but they do exist…you just have to know where to look. Head to Prospect Park for some on-dirt adventure in the nearly 3 miles of trails found in the park. It’s a place with a similar vibe to Central Park (they were both designed by the same landscape architect), just way more scaled down and with far fewer people. It’s also the best spot around for a need-to-get-on-trail urge when you don’t have time to go out of the city.

Afterwards, Brooklyn Brewery is a staple for any serious beer drinkers in the tri-state area (and you can get it worldwide now!). The brewery itself, with a bar inside, is a sweet place to land post-hike, and since it’s located in Williamsburg, there’s no end to the possibilities for an ultra-hip brunch spot if your hike was earlier in the morning. With a wide range of seasonal brews alternating in and out of the taps throughout the year, there’s no shortage of brew options. But it’s the flagship Brooklyn Lager, which is perhaps the must-drink beer at Brooklyn Brewery.

3. Cunningham Park | Fillmore’s Tavern

Trail running in the city just got a lot more fun with Cunningham Park around. Molly Hurford

 

Cunningham Park, up in Queens, isn’t just for mountain bikers: it’s a great spot for trail runners and hikers as well. And the meticulously groomed and well-signed trails make its 358-acre expanse one of the best kept secrets in Queens. If you’re trail running or casually strolling, be aware that it is a somewhat popular spot for mountain bikers, so listen for bikes behind you. Bonus mileage: if you need to add more miles, you’re just a few blocks from Alley Pond Park, another great park with a combo of paved, doubletrack and singletrack trails weaving through wetlands, forests, and meadows.

And you might need that mileage if you’re going to go two miles down the road to Fillmore’s Tavern—a 102-year-old establishment with a ton of character—to indulge in a a beer or two during their fantastic happy hour, or if you’re planning on having the Tequila Poppers (we won’t blame you if you don’t share them with your hiking buddy).

4. Inwood Hills Park | Hogshead Tavern

Hard to believe Inwood Hill Park is located right in New York City Barry Solow

 

Inwood Hills Park has some of the best trails in the city. Winding singletrack allows great views of the Hudson River and skyscrapers, so it’s a bit of a fairyland vibe where you feel completely alone in the middle of nowhere, but you’re actually totally surrounded by the hustle of the city. The route from the tip of the park down to Hogshead—one of NYC’s top taverns—is (dare we say) epic. You’ll start winding through Inwood Hills, exploring and enjoying some of the serious stairs, before heading through neighboring trails in Fort Tryon as you head south four miles to Hogshead Tavern in Harlem. The selection of craft beer, whiskey, and uber-hip snacks (and brunch, naturally) make this the perfect post-hike destination, especially if you finish thirsty and hungry, and want some incredibly Instagram-able eats and drinks.

5. Sprain Ridge Park | Pete’s Park Place Tavern

Twenty-five cent wings post-hike? Sounds like the best day ever, which is why you should venture north of Manhattan on Mondays to make a visit to the technical trails of Sprain Ridge Park (the terror of mountain bikers, and the training ground for those hoping to compete in more serious trail running events). After you’ve exhausted all of those trails and your legs, you can head to Pete’s Park Place Tavern for beers and wings. It’s the most traditional sports-bar environment out of the taverns we’ve checked out, but the ultra-casual atmosphere is welcoming even if you’re a little bit sweaty, so it’s worth the stop. And again—where in Manhattan will you find tasty wings for 25 cents?

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Want more adventures? Check out the Runner’s Guide to New York City Breweries.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co. Featured image provided by Thomas Angermann

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings in Denver

Ask any longtime Denverite: Colorado’s capital is no mountain town. Newcomers are often surprised at the far-off Front Range, but for the adventurously inclined, this doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of things to do. The Centennial State enjoys trails even in its urban jungle, and—no surprise, from a region with the third-highest number of microbreweries per capita in the country—our favorite recovery beverage is beer. Here are the best trail to tavern pairings in the Denver Metro area.

1. Trail Ridge Road | Great Divide Brewing

Kelso Ridge (Class 3) is an airy scramble to the Continental Divide and the summit of Torreys Peak. For a full day, tag its neighbor, Grays Peak, and enjoy a Great Divide brew at the top. Emma Walker

 

There are plenty of continental divides in North America, but the Great Divide, which runs from Alaska’s Seward Peninsula to the tip of South America, is by far the most prominent. Denverites don’t have to go far to see the point where watersheds go their separate ways: Trail Ridge Road, a National Scenic Byway with killer Continental Divide views, runs through Rocky Mountain National Park—just an hour and a half from downtown. The Front Range also boasts the highest point on the Divide in North America: Grays Peak, which measures up at 14,278 feet. For a true Continental Divide experience, summit this approachable Fourteener, and enjoy a Great Divide Brewing creation—try a refreshing Denver Pale Ale—at the top. Hopefully it’s the only Yeti you’ll see all day.

2. Confluence Park | My Brother’s Bar

Denver’s Highlands neighborhood is truly a confluence, both in the hydrological sense—Confluence Park marks the merging of Cherry Creek and the South Platte—and culturally: you’ll find a wide variety of top-notch restaurants, all within walking distance of one another. The good news is there’s a way to work off those calories first. Ride, run, or walk the gently graded South Platte River Trail, which begins at 88th and Colorado in Thornton and stretches nearly 18 miles to Aurora.

Ready for more? Take a kayak to play in the whitewater park at the confluence, conveniently located just a block from both the Denver REI flagship store and locally beloved Wilderness Exchange. When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to My Brother’s Bar—literature buffs will recognize it from Kerouac’s On the Road—for a super-cheap, delicious post-fun burger and great beer. There’s no sign out front, which adds to its mystique as the oldest continually operating bar in Denver.

3. Clear Creek | Golden City Brewery

Paddle (or innertube) Clear Creek Whitewater Park for an adventure experience in the heart of downtown Golden. Emma Walker

 

Signs of spring on the Colorado Front Range: geese return, flowers bloom, and local breweries open their patio doors. Just fifteen miles west of Denver, the city of Golden was established during the gold rush in the late nineteenth century, and today sticks to its motto—“Where the West Lives!”—with easy access to countless recreational opportunities, including Clear Creek, which runs through the heart of downtown. When the weather’s warm, take your kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or innertube (you can rent one just blocks from the creek at Golden River Sports) to the Clear Creek Whitewater Park. If the water’s too cold, head up Clear Creek Canyon, where you’ll have your pick of thousands of sport climbing routes. Your reward is waiting at Golden City Brewery, whose charming patio offers a hearty taste of mountain living. For extra credit, match your beer to the day’s activities with a Lookout Stout or Clear Creek Gold.

4. Apex Park | Mountain Toad

Golden is chock-full of mountain bike trails and microbreweries, and you can see most of them from North Table Loop. Emma Walker

 

There’s a reason Golden is home to a half-dozen bike shops: it’s a mountain biker’s paradise. It’s a short drive to some of the Front Range’s best singletrack, including Centennial Cone, Mayhem Gulch, White Ranch Open Space, and Apex Park. Apex offers outstanding technical riding, challenging climbs, and fun, flowy descents. Plan ahead—the park enforces directional restrictions, so certain sections of the trails are only up- or downhill depending on the day (check the map on the land manager’s website for details). When you’re ready for a cool down, head to the Mountain Toad—quickly becoming one of Golden’s most popular microbreweries, and featuring local art—to enjoy an Apex Amber on the dog-friendly patio.

5. Red Rocks Park | Roof Top Tavern

Morrison’s myriad boulder problems are a climber’s paradise. Pat Brehm takes a burn on Tendonitis Traverse (V5). Bix Firer

Historic Morrison is nestled in the foothills just south of Golden and boasts some classic Front Range bouldering problems. Quick approaches to an abundance of boulders means the area has an outdoor gym feel—you can get a ton of laps in before you head into town for a beer. Taking a rest day? Check out Red Rocks Park, where you can hike to incredible panoramic views of Denver and the plains, or catch a show at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Once you’ve climbed the rocks—or the 380-odd amphitheater steps—head to the Roof Top Tavern, which serves local craft brews and spirits on a patio complete with in-table firepits. Like the rest of Morrison, the views here won’t disappoint.

Wear from the trail to the tavern…

WsFlybyNightMsshorts

Women’s Outdoor Joy Tank $35, Viatrix Short $65, Fly-By-Night Jacket $129

Men’s Wonderer LS Shirt $79, Rover Short $75, Motile SS Polo $52,  Transverse Shirt Jac $119

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co. Featured image provided by Emma Walker

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairing in Dallas-Fort Worth

The Dallas-Fort Worth area may be a sprawling metropolis, but there’s no shortage of natural beauty both in the city and among its (vast) outskirts. This is Texas, after all, and Texas is big. And spread out. And quite wild. Folks here also appreciate a good craft brew or a good number of other poisons with our long-loved Tito’s Vodka being made in state and, now, even bourbon and (Texas) moonshine. Our days are also long and, in the summer, often grueling. So we’ve gotten real good at pairing two of the things we love most ‘round here: trails and ales. Whether downtown lovin’ is your cup of tea (er, booze) or you prefer a watering hole outside of town, here are five pairings for your day off.

1. Dogwood Canyon | Bishop Cider Company

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For those who appreciate rare flora, observing endangered birds, and fresh cider, this pairing goes quite nicely with a spring day. Begin your day just outside of Cedar Hill State Park, southwest of Dallas in Cedar Hill, Texas. Here you’ll find Dogwood Canyon, founded by the good people of Wild Birds Unlimited. In the spring, Dogwood Canyon is rich with color as the flowering dogwoods blossom, and also rich with birdsong, as hummingbirds are regulars around these parts. It’s also thought that the endangered golden-cheeked warblers live among the reserve. The trails within Dogwood Canyon are short, but they’re also hilly and picturesque with scenic overlooks providing views of nearby Cedar Hill State Park and Joe Pool Lake.

Once you’ve had your day’s flora and fauna fix, head just due north to Bishop Cider Company in Southwest Dallas’ Oak Cliff. With ciders named things like Crackberry and Suicider, Bishop’s cider may be unconventional in the text of the old school, offering up cider with jalapenos, peaches, pecans, and hops, but that’s precisely what makes it so Texas. Even better, you are assured a high-quality concoction at the Cider Company because the owners’ philosophy is simply: “Is this a cider that we want to drink all day every day?” And that’s a philosophy we can support.

2. Lake Grapevine’s North Shore Trail | Grapevine Craft Brewery

Sunset at Grapevine Lake Austin Marshall

North Shore Trail runs along Lake Grapevine in Grapevine, Texas (northwest of Dallas) and offers an incredibly scenic out-and-back hike and bike trail up to 12 miles each way. There are three entry points to the trail, though you should take note of the two free entry points (because we’re saving our money for a post-hike brew, right?): Murrell Park and Twin Coves Park. Twin Coves Park technically has a fee, but the official Lake Grapevine site says if you park outside of the gate and enter the trail, there is no fee. Because the trail follows alongside Lake Grapevine, it’s an incredible place for those who enjoy chasing a stellar sunrise or sunset (though if drinking is on the agenda, perhaps sunset is a better choice).

After the sun sets (or rises—we aren’t judging), head over to Grapevine Craft Brewery. The local brew joint says “craft is their middle name.” There’s always a selection of rotating seasonal and limited release beers and the year-round staples like the crisp Monarch Pilsner (which is a great choice after a hot day aside the lake) and Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout (which makes for a good cool weather beer). Grapevine Craft Brewery is an award-winning kind of place, with awards won from events like the Great American Beer Festival and the Denver International Beer Competition. They often feature great local food trucks too, so you can sample the finest of Grapevine in just one sitting.

3. Big Cedar Wilderness Trails | Deep Ellum Brewery

Southwest of downtown, Big Cedar Wilderness Trails offer more than twenty miles of pristine, well-kept trails that are great for hiking and biking. There are both short and long loops that cross over the highest elevation in the city, which provides a great sunset viewing point and beautiful views of a nearby lake and downtown. Some of the trails are moderate, so those seeking a solid workout before imbibing have the opportunity to experience a good bit of elevation change, while still being close to downtown Dallas.

Once you’ve finished your Big Cedar elevation, it’s only appropriate to go to what is, perhaps, Dallas’ longest celebrated brewpub—Deep Ellum Brewery in the heart of downtown Dallas, where they say “love runs deep.” We can argue that post-hike cheer and a solid ABV can certainly lead to love running deep. The Deep Ellum IPA is a go-to classic at the brewery, while other local favorites include its Double Blonde and the Double Brown Stout. If you’re the kind who prefers to take a sixer for the road, the Easy Peasy IPA is described as a “perfect summer beer” and travels well.

4. Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge | The Collective Brewing Project


Brewmaster Mike Goldfuss filling up a cold one. Jake Wheeler

Fort Worth is a little less big city and a whole lot more old-school Texas. And that means the area immediately surrounding the city is a lot less developed than nearby Dallas. The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge is a sprawling refuge that provides nearly 4,000 acres of beautiful land along the West Fork of the Trinity River. Paddlers and hikers love the park for its pristine landscapes and outside-the-city vibes. There are more than twenty miles of hiking trails ranging from a quarter of a mile to 3.3 miles, and several entry points to the river, so land and water folks alike will enjoy the well-preserved ecosystems within the refuge.

Whether you’ve spent the day paddling along the Trinity or hiking the refuge’s trails, Fort Worth’s The Collective Brewing Project is a perfect next stop to wind down and hydrate. They call themselves Fort Worth’s “first franken-monster of a brewery” and use the hashtag #funkytownbeer, both of which are a warm invite to their tucked away taproom in an unassuming corner of the city’s Southside. Staple beers include their Mustache Rye’d and Tropic Thunder. And, if you’re anything like the masterminds behind Collective Brewing, you may be tempted to take a growler to go. Maybe even all the way to Big Bend.

5. Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve | Nine Band Brewing

Just twenty miles northeast of Dallas in Plano, Texas is an 800-acre nature preserve called Oak Point Park. The park was recently named a Certified Audubon Sanctuary because of the number of bird species that flourish within the preserve, making it an ideal day trip for birdwatchers and photographers too. Offering 3.5 miles of paved trails and more than seven miles of soft-surface trails that follow along Rowlett Creek, the park provides access to an environment that’s largely undisturbed as well as a pavilion and amphitheater. While the trails at Oak Point Park are not technical, they are far from the bustle of city life and immerse you into an important, peaceful, and beautiful ecosystem.

When you’ve finished exploring Oak Point’s trails, head just six miles north of Plano to Nine Band Brewing in Allen, considered the Plano-area’s first microbrewery. The 8,000-foot facility and taproom is filled with vats brewing up three signature beers and a range of seasonal blends, and communal, handmade wooden tables that make bringing a big crew or rallying a new one an easy task. Whether their 6% Nine Band Pale Ale or their 10.6% Toad Choker Barleywine is more your speed, Big Band’s taps are eager to pour you a post-adventure brew that’ll keep you on your toes, or bring you to your knees. Bottoms up!

Wear from the trail to the tavern…

Msshorts WsBluehoodie

Men’s Wonderer LS Shirt $79, Rover Short $75, Motile SS Polo $52,  Transverse Shirt Jac $119

Women’s Lean Layering Tank $32, BFT Hoodie $89, Festivator Short $49

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings in Chicago

Part of the joy of hiking comes from exploring new places. And certainly part of the growing appeal of microbrews is the enjoyment that comes from trying something unique. So it’s no surprise that the combination of hiking and craft beers is appealing to outdoor enthusiasts who have been known to tip back a pint or two. Here, we’ve created five trail-to-tavern trips in the Chicago area that include a great hiking destination followed by a place to stop for unique, locally brewed beer. So get out of your neighborhood and explore some of the best trails (and beer) the Chicago area has to offer.

1. Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve | Stockholm’s Brew Pub

Following the Path of the Fox River, the paved Fox River Trail is one of the great resources for cyclists and runners in the far western suburbs. But if you want to get off the beaten path, take a detour at the Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve, which is just off the trail in St. Charles. While the preserve is a relatively small 65 acres, it offers plenty to explore, including an oak tree dating back to 1864. You’ll find mostly oak and maple forests on higher ground, a floodplain forest closer to the Fox River, and a restored prairie in former farm fields.

You’ll also find a network of trails through the fields and forested ravines, but nothing too strenuous. It’s a great place to enjoy wildflowers in the spring, and plenty of wildlife—particularly birds—any time of the year.

After the hike, head just south of St. Charles to downtown Geneva for an excellent beer choice. Stockholm’s Brew Pub offers several house-made beers made in the “Old World Tradition, cask-conditioned and un-filtered, for full balance flavor.” You’ll find about a dozen beers on the menu, usually including the Viking Red Ale, the Downtown Honey Brown, and the Older But Weisser, a Belgian White that’s certainly refreshing after some time on the trail. In addition to the beer selection, Stockholm’s offers an excellent menu for a full meal.

2. Palos Trail System | Granite City Brewery


Sunset singletrack in the Palos Trail System Mark Montri

The Palos Trail System in the Cook County Forest Preserves surrounding Palos Heights offers quite simply the best hiking experience in the Chicago area. And it’s not even close. Near the intersection of I-55 and I-294, Palos features nine significant trails—more than 20 miles worth—with hills, stones, downed trees, slippery surfaces, roots, and creeks. A few minutes away from the parking lot and you’ll forget you’re in the Chicago area.

The Granite City Brewery in Orland Park is just south of the trail system on LaGrange Road and opposite the Orland Grove Forest Preserve. It isn’t locally owned—the restaurant group got its start in St. Cloud, Minn., in 1999—but it does brew its own beer on the premises. And they certainly do a good job, with the four hand-crafted beers on the menu, including The Bennie, a German-style bock that will hit the spot after any hike.

3. Indiana Dunes State Park | Hunter’s Brewing


Exploring the sandy trails at Indiana Dunes State Park Steve Johnson

As the name implies, the Indiana Dunes State Park is best known for its big sandy hills that line the Lake Michigan lakeshore. And yes, you have more than three miles of very nice beach among the 2,182 acres of the park, with a long-distance view of the Chicago skyline on a clear day. But the dunes next to the beach offer some of the most challenging hiking around.

The state park features seven different trails—rated from easy to rugged—which tour the dunes and the adjacent nature preserve. That means that while you can certainly attempt to tackle the towering dunes, you also can explore trails that are more suitable for hiking. Find a trail map on the second page of this pamphlet.

You’d be hard pressed to find an area with more diverse terrain. You have sandy beaches and dunes, hard-packed trails and even boardwalks over marshes in the trail system. The 5.5-mile trail No. 10 is the largest at the dunes, and it offers a big loop that goes out via the nature preserve and back along the dunes and the beach. Trail No. 9 is a 3.75-mile loop inside the preserve, with plenty of climbing.

Located just outside the park in Chesterton, Ind., Hunter’s Brewing is a nanobrewery that features hand-brewed beer from its one-barrel system. You’ll find a variety of small-batch boutique beers in its tasting room, which also offers sandwiches and snacks. With 18 taps, you have plenty to choose from, and guest beer and wines (that is, not made on the premises) are also available.

4. Kettle Moraine State Forest | 841 Brewhouse


Taking to the trails in Kettle Moraine Forest Amy Bayer

Of course, if you’re talking about beer, Wisconsin should come to mind. If you’re up for a short road trip, the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest also offers some of the best hiking options within two hours of Chicago. The state forest contains more than 22,000 acres in southern Wisconsin, about 37 miles southeast of Milwaukee. For hikers, that means more than 130 miles of trails to explore—with lots of variety. You’ll find hardwood forests, pine plantations, and prairie.

The term “kettle moraine” is actually a geological description that comes from how the area was created. A moraine is an accumulation of rock and soil that comes from a glacier, while a kettle is a shallow body of water formed by a retreating glacier. You don’t need a degree in geology to figure out that this means the area is filled with rolling hills, valleys, and ridges. So you’ll discover some great views, but also have to do some serious climbing. Keep in mind when planning your mileage that these trails can be tough.

Reward yourself afterward with a trip to the 841 Brewhouse in nearby Whitewater, Wis. You’ll find four in-house beers on tap, usually a wheat, amber, IPA, and a stout, plus plenty of other options from Wisconsin craft breweries. Their large menu is solid and filled with pub favorites.

5. Deer Grove Forest Preserve | RAM Restaurant and Brewery

kyiotbsdpe3ukthu4ywz Deer Grove Forest Preserve offers the best hiking trails in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Jeff Banowetz. 

Offering the best hiking trails in Chicago’s northern suburbs, the Deer Grove Forest Preserve features nearly 10 miles of off-road trails in addition to several miles of paved routes that have made this a popular escape. Some have even referred to this as “Palos North,” in reference to the bigger trail system in the southwest suburbs. You don’t have the volume of trails here, but for north suburban residents this is certainly the gem of the forest preserve system.

Located just north of Dundee Road in Palatine, Ill., the Deer Grove Forest Preserve is bisected by Quentin Road, creating east and west sections of the park. The west side is slightly bigger, and has the longest trail, the yellow, which offers a 5.4-mile, uninterrupted loop. You can connect to black and orange trails on the west side and get in a good 10-mile hike without too much repetition. On the east side, which is connected to the west via a paved trail, there’s a 2.6-mile brown loop as well as the 2.6 mile paved trail.

Head east to nearby Wheeling, Ill., and you’ll hit the RAM Restaurant and Brewery, which offers a number of seasonal beers on tap. You can even create your own personal flights served in 10-ounce glasses from its wide selection. The impressive menu has everything from pub staples like burgers and fish and chips to beef short ribs and wild Alaska salmon. Be sure to work up an appetite.

Shop Our Heritage Trail to Tavern Style:

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Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.