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  1. 1. september 2015 / 100 adventure trail mix The Great Outdoors Golden is prime territory for fall escapades close to home By ted alan stedman I t was where 1850s miners discovered plac- er gold, and was once the state’s territorial capital and a frontier outpost known as the last “flat place” before the Rocky Moun- tains. Talk about Colorado history, and the city of Golden comes to the forefront. Thanks to brewing pioneer Adolph Coors founding his company there in 1873, it has name recogni- tion that most cities can only envy—a place where the “Pure Rocky Mountain Spring Water” slogan carries more outdoor cache than early city boosters could have imagined. Cleaved by Clear Creek, the waterway is the heart and soul of Golden and sets the stage for a slew of outdoor pursuits. The river is front-and-center, a haven for anglers and paddlers who come here for bountiful trout and playboating the city’s manmade kayaking course. Step beyond its banks and Clear Creek forms a liquid artery hemmed by hundreds of climbing routes and topped by mountain ridges crisscrossed with all flavors of hiking and biking trails. Something else to consider: With the approach of fall, robust river levels, toasty daytime temps and touristy crowds are tamed, making Golden a serious adventure alternative to more distant I-70 destinations. Golden has drawn fly-fishers, as well as praises, ever since the conservation and advo- cacy organization Trout Unlimited dedicated its “Golden Mile” premium trout habitat in 2009. River renovation that increased depth, pools, boulder placement, slackwaters and other fish-friendly features created an ideal habitat for trout to flourish, meaning predict- ably great fishing right in town. “Numbers of rainbow and brown trout along the Golden Mile are some of the best you’ll find anywhere in the state,” says Bart Pinkham of Golden River Sports, where he sells equipment and provides custom guide services. The Gold- en Mile is just the start, however. Head further upriver and there are more than 20 miles of fishable waters all the way to Georgetown. “People are excited to have an excellent trout fishing experience in a mountain environment near a metro area,” Pinkham adds. When it comes to playboating—practic- ing moves and toying with river features in a relatively confined area—Golden’s Clear Creek Whitewater Park is the place to be. Dedicated in 1998, one-quarter mile of riv- erway was reconfigured by kayak guru Gary Lacey, a hydraulic engineer and urban plan- ner who transforms citified waterways into frothy urban oases—a.k.a. whitewater parks. “Playboating transformed the sport of kayaking,” Lacey says. “Instead of going down a river on day or overnight trips, the concept of playing on a single wave all day revolutionized boat designs and how boat- ers recreate.” outdoor pros Hook up with these trusted experts for your Golden adventures: Fly-fishing: Besides equip- ment sales and service, Golden River Sports conducts on- water fly-fishing classes, as well as guided services covering 15 miles of home waters along Clear Creek. Paddle sports: Golden River Sports is a one-stop shop for kayak and stand-up paddle- boarding sales and rentals as well, not to mention boogie- style rip boards, wet suits and all levels of instruction handled through an affiliation with Re- naissance Adventure Guides. Mountain biking: Rent a demo bike, make a new purchase or simply check in with the two-wheel experts at Golden Bike Shop to get the 411 on local rides. Rock climbing: Fully per- mitted and insured, Denver Mountain Guiding provides instructional courses on local climbing routes for beginners through experts of all ages. To find out about events, tours, recreation, outfitters and all things Golden, visit water world Playboating has changed the sport of kayaking in Golden.
  2. 2. september 2015 / 102 adventure hiking,richgrant GeAR GUIDE Multi-sport items to help take advantage of Golden’s outdoor playground Specialized Rockhop- per Pro EVO 29 mountain bike, $1,550. At Wheatley Signature Fly Box, $200. At Oru Kayak Bay + Folding Kayak, $1,575. At Patagonia Crag Daddy rock climbing pack, $179. At Sevylor Tomichi Pro 106 inflatable stand-up paddleboard, $1,199.99. At For Golden, Lacey’s company re-con- toured the river channel with thousands of tons of large, aesthetic granite boulders 8 to 12 feet in diameter. “These parks are a bless- ing for the time-strapped,” he says. “And the interaction between people on the bank and paddlers is wonderful.” The run has three sections built using natural boulders, with the upper section consisting of a series of drops and pools with fast eddies for a variety of skill levels; the middle offering flat, broad and shallow surf waves with huge ran- dom boulders; and the lower section made to entertain paddlers with more extreme surf. Naturally, proficient training for cold, fast-mov- ing water is essential. But there are other ways to enjoy Golden’s centerpiece. Head downstream and you’ll enter the territory of stand-up paddleboarders and old school tubers who ply the more mellow riffles and current, conditions that become excellent come fall. Golden’s biking creds are stellar, with White Ranch Open Space and Apex Park coming out on top for knobby tire rides. “These are fairly technical, and, depending on ability, we’ll match bikes with the trails people prefer,” says Greg Floyd of Golden Bike Shop, a go-to for retail, rentals and advice. In town, you’ll find more pedestrian-styled paths and light-duty roller coaster trails, from the paved, tree-lined Clear Creek Bike Path that meanders alongside the river for 19 miles on its rendezvous with the South Platte River, to the 7.4-mile North Table Mountain loop that en- circles the mesa with a rolling single track most riders can handle. For more ambitious (read: steep) riding with incredible views, the 5-mile Chimney Gulch Trail at Lookout Mountain’s Windy Saddle Park is a favorite for fall splendor. Talk to local rock climbers worth their chalk and they’ll gush about the hundreds of desig- nated climbs in and around Golden. And don’t worry if you’re new to rock, because the routes run the gamut from easy bouldering to super-techie climbs. “We’ve got routes on North Table Mountain, Lookout Mountain, in Clear Creek—crags, walls, boulders, you name it,” says Kevin Capps of Denver Mountain Guiding. “North Table Mountain has nice, solid black basalt rock with single-pitch routes we’ll use for top- roping beginning and intermediate climbing clients. Lookout Mountain Crag is another good top rope route that fol- lows a cliff face with lots of cracks.” From town, climbers can hike to Canal Zone along a trail running beside an irrigation canal to a shady wall offering several beginner to intermediate climbs. “We get groups of rank beginners and inter- mediates who want to learn from the ground up, or improve their skill levels, and we’ll go out to Clear Creek for a day and everybody comes back with smiles,” says Capps, who notes that his guided climbs boast a 100 percent safety success record. “That’s the thing about Golden. If you want to test your limits and engage in the outdoors, it’s all right here.” DLM golden opportu- nities Hike and bike without the haul up I-70.

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