10 delicious ways to fuel your Colorado hikes

  • Hearty food for hefty hikes

    Colorado is home to 58 14ers – mountains over 14,000 feet high – and 39,000 miles of mapped hiking and biking trails. All that exercise at altitude will work up a hearty appetite, and these restaurants across the state have nourishing, craveable dishes to enjoy before and after climbing mountains. If you're tackling a 14er, you'll be up at the crack of dawn, so your best bet is to throw some Bobo's Oat Bars (made in Boulder) or chocolate bars from Fort Collins' Nuance Chocolate in your knapsack for fuel on the go.  Here are 9 other fantastic options to fuel up pre- or post-hike.

    Photo courtesy of Mike Thurk

  • Hummus at Safta

    James Beard Award-winning chef Alon Shaya's second restaurant is a stunner, bringing bright, flavorful and often vegetarian-friendly Israeli cuisine to Denver's trendy River North District. At Safta, you'll want to start with some hummus and salatim (small Israeli side dishes) to share, served with fresh pita straight from the wood-fired oven. You can choose to top your smooth, fluffy hummus with lamb ragu, wood-roasted mushrooms, cauliflower or a soft-cooked egg. The wood-fired pita will keep coming – in a single brunch service the team can serve up to 500 pita!

    Photo courtesy of Mike Thurk

  • Colorado lamb T-bones at 221 South Oak

    You might recognize Eliza Gavin from Season 10 of Bravo's Top Chef. But Telluride locals know her for her housemade sausages and excellent Colorado lamb and elk dishes at 221 South Oak, where she's been the chef and owner for nearly 20 years. Here, juicy lamb T-bones are served atop a light quinoa salad with falafel dusted kale, cherry tomato and a swirl of mint yogurt. Gavin also offers an extensive vegetarian menu and the Bear Creek Falls trailhead is just a couple blocks away from the fine dining restaurant.

    Photo courtesy of Amber Gibson

  • Ravioli at Oak at Fourteenth

    All of the pasta at Boulder's Oak at Fourteenth is made in-house and the ravioli are little pillows of heaven. Chef Steven Redzikowski mixes up the flavors often based upon the season. During winter, that might mean celery root and Taleggio ravioli with browned butter, Brussels sprouts, currants, hazelnuts and Grana Padano cheese. In spring, Redzikowski lightens it up with creamed spinach ravioli tossed in piquillo pepper pesto with Marcona almonds, English peas and feta. Nothing hits the spot better before or after a hike up the Flatirons.

    Photo courtesy of Amber Gibson

  • Bison bourguignon at The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market

    One of Julia Child's favorite recipes gets a Colorado twist, with local bison slowly braised in red wine alongside smoked bacon at The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market. The bison bourguignon has been a signature item since opening day and sweet, creamy celeriac purée, roasted baby carrots and cipollini onions balance the super savory best-selling entrée. Fort Collins is not as mountainous as other parts of Colorado, but there are nice hikes in the foothills at Reservoir Ridge and Bobcat Ridge, where you'll also see historic homesteads and possibly elk, wild turkey or even mountain lions.

    Photo courtesy of Amber Gibson

  • Giant cinnamon roll at Silver Grill Cafe

    Carbs are key to fuel a hike and while the pillowy giant cinnamon rolls served with a side of extra butter at Silver Grill Cafe might not be the healthiest breakfast, it'll certainly give you a sugar rush to power you along a trail. This classic diner in historic downtown Fort Collins has been a local breakfast favorite since 1933. If you prefer a little more protein at breakfast, order an eggs Benedict paired with a mini cinnamon roll.

    Photo courtesy of Amber Gibson

  • Go Green scramble at Spring Café

    The Go Green scramble at this sunny Aspen café includes kale, broccoli, green onion, hemp seeds and either tofu or scrambled eggs. Choose from roasted sweet potatoes or fruit, and toast or a sprouted grain tortilla to round out your meal. Spring Café specializes in organic, plant-based breakfast and lunch options, perfect for fueling a hike on Hunter Creek Trail or Sunnyside Trail, for something a little more challenging.

    Photo courtesy of Amber Gibson

  • Bully bourbon burger at Bully Ranch

    Choose from elk, buffalo, chicken, 7X Colorado beef or a veggie patty at Bully Ranch, followed by just the right combination of toppings. The casual restaurant at the Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail serves their burgers on buttery brioche buns and the Bully bourbon burger is one of the most decadent options, with smoked cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, sautéed onions and housemade Jim Beam demi-glace. Lost Lake is an easy backcountry hike a short drive from Vail, with sparkling lake views at the end. For a longer day hike, Lake Constantine is beautiful and serene in the Holy Cross Wilderness area.

    Photo courtesy of Sonnenalp Hotel

  • Grilled cheese egg in the hole at Clark's Aspen

    While Clark's Aspen is best known for their caviar, oysters and marble raw bar, at lunch they have a playfully simple Gruyère grilled cheese egg in the hole sandwich served on their freshly baked sourdough. It's the least expensive entrée on the menu and a hearty bit of mid-day fuel for a late afternoon hike.

    Photo courtesy of McGuire Moorman Hospitality

  • Hiker's salad at Restaurant 1858

    The entrance to Seven Falls is just a leisurely stroll down the nature path from The Broadmoor. Fuel up with this salad, topped with savory goji berry granola and açaí pomegranate vinaigrette, at Restaurant 1858 at the base of Seven Falls before climbing the 224 steps to take in the view from the top. The curly kale, multicolored carrots and beets come from The Broadmoor's garden and greenhouses, while the honey used in the salad dressing and granola is harvested from the resort's hives.

    Photo courtesy of The Broadmoor