Magazine article Sunset

Holiday Leg-Stretchers

Magazine article Sunset

Holiday Leg-Stretchers

Article excerpt

Take one or more as directed to ward off the effects of holiday

You aspired to the lofty heights of moderation, but you landed with a belly flop in gluttony Your best intentions for skipping dessert and bypassing second helpings were waylaid by the siren call of an overflowing holiday table. Just like last year. But take heart: If self-restraint at the feast isn't one of your virtues, a brisk walk in the wintry air may help undo what you've overdone.

Of course, winter in the Rockies is always iffy and, depending on the weather, a holiday hike here can be either a pleasant stroll in bright sunshine or a winter expedition with snow, wind, and cold. These trails were picked for elevations and exposures that should be clear if it hasn't snowed recently and that can be snowshoed if it has. Be careful of your footing if there has been a thaw/freeze cycle. Check the forecast before you go, and suit up for any weather.

Colorado

BOULDER: Mesa Trail. The fabulous Mesa Trail skirts the transition zone between the plains and the mountains. With several easy access points, you can either make a feast of the full trail or just do a one-course segment.

The northern section is nestled beneath the Flatirons, Boulder's signature formation of massive, slanted rock slabs. The southern section passes a couple of old cabins below Bear Mountain. All along the trail, the view is a panorama of Boulder and the plains beyond.

WHERE: Three trailheads offer good parking. The Chautauqua trailhead, on the north end, is at Baseline Rd. and Grant St. The middle access point is off a 1/4-mile spur starting at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, at the western end of Table Mesa Dr. Southern trailhead is on Eldorado Springs Dr. west of Broadway. DISTANCE: Up to 7 miles one way. DIFFICULTY: Moderate. FYI: After a snow, the less woodsy southern portion of the trail melts first. COST: $3. CONTACT: City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Department: (720) 564-2000. - Claire Walter

MANITOU SPRINGS: Paul Intemann Memorial Nature Trail. From a trailhead near Iron Spring, one of the nine springs that inspired the town's name, the Intemann Trail follows the contours of the lower slopes of Red and Iron Mountains. The views are phenomenal; frequently the mass of 14,110-foot Pikes Peak, the behemoth of Colorado's Front Range, dominates the western skyline. …

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