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Best of Recreation 

Work that Body

Best Hiking Trail
Readers' Poll Winner

Barr Trail

The view from the end of Barr Trail, also known as the top of Pikes Peak, inspired the song "America the Beautiful." Rumor has it though, that many who start up turn back before they get anywhere near the song-inspiring summit of 14,110 feet. Indeed, Barr is a trail; a trail up the side of a honkin' mountain. But, unlike those crazy marathon runners, you don't have to summit to enjoy it. The hiking and scenery are glorious on almost any stretch of the trail. But for those up to the steep challenge, there are doughnuts waiting at the top. Is this a great mountain or what? --sb

Best Local Spot to See the Aspens Change

Jones Park, Cheyenne Canyon

If you're up for the challenge, the trail to Jones Park starts from the parking lot at Captain Jack's trailhead, or can be picked up off of the Seven Bridges Trail. Either way, it's a steady uphill climb before it ever flattens out. But your lungs will forgive you, because as the trail levels, it meanders into and through groves of aspens, forming a glowing tree tunnel. Farther along, the trail leads to an open field, leaving you surrounded by shimmering, golden leaves, and nothing but blue sky overhead. I don't care what the commercials say; no ride in an SUV can provide that experience. --sb

Best Place to Spend a Rainy Day


After our oppressively hot and dry summer, who didn't welcome the three days of rain that hit us mid-September? Gloriously cloudy and cool, damp right to the bone, it inspired me -- and plenty of others -- to don neglected rain gear and head outdoors, reveling in the moisture. On one jaunt down a local trail, smack in the middle of a workday, I encountered six others. Decked out in our finest rubber and Gore-Tex, we gave each other the knowing nod and half smile. Fools in the rain, all of us. --sb

Best Tourist Destination on the Eastern Plains of Colorado

The Carousel at Burlington
Kit Carson County Fairgrounds, 719/348-5562

You'll have to wait until next summer because it's only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but a 25-cent ride on the "Jewel of the Plains" is absolutely worth the long drive across Colorado's eastern plains. Just 13 miles from the Kansas border, Burlington is the county seat of Kit Carson County with just over 3,000 residents if you don't count the cows, antelope and deer you'll see along the way. Drive east on Highway 24 past Calhan to Limon, then on I-70; or go the back way via Highway 94 to Punkin Center and Kit Carson, then cut across to Burlington. Either way, there's plenty of big sky and not many chances to gas up. In Burlington, you'll find the fully restored 1905 Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel with 46 hand-carved animals and four sleighs, just north of town at the fairgrounds. A quarter gets you a 10-minute ride, accompanied by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Monster Military Band Organ, the only one of its kind still in operating condition. In country where grain silos are the only visual distraction, this hidden treat is truly a jewel. --kce

Best Miniture Golf Course
Readers' Poll Winner

Champions Golf & Games
777 Vondelpark Drive, 593-9844

Less walking, a fraction of the price, and only one club to carry -- mini golf is great. You also won't have to deal with snotty rich people and you might even make par. For $6 at Champions, you can explore a hot-air balloon, a Mayan temple, and a miner's cave (all with matching theme music). If you're not worn out at the end of 18 holes, it's just a dollar more to play the second course. Children 5 and under are free. --ak

Biggest Loss for Kids

The Children's Museum
Formerly located on the upper level of The Citadel mall

It wasn't the largest, best funded or most state-of-the-art, but it was sincere, and it was a great place to take your kids. The folks who worked at our children's museum were friendly, welcoming and dedicated to our children. Who else would open their arms to a large, rowdy bunch of kids and turn them loose in a craft room with glue, sequins, construction paper and one determined staff member trying to guide them all? Unfortunately, the funding dried up, and corporate sponsors were not to be found in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. Here's hoping that some day soon, someone will fill the void for our kids. --mbp

Best Dog Park Scene

Bear Creek Dog Park
21st Street and Rio Grande

The Bear Creek Dog Park on 21st street, adjacent to the Bear Creek Park for humans, is the alpha of all canine playgrounds, and a social hub for pooches and humans alike. Replete with mountain views, a creek for Rover to wade in, and a message board for pet/owner events and information, it is a dog-friendly space free of spandex-clad exercisers and nervous, dog-fearing families. A half-mile loop provides good off-leash romping, with an open field for playing ball or chasing birds, and many trees to pee on. Poop bags provided. --sb



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