Outside | AspenTimes.com


Paul Conrad/Aspen Times Weekly

Well, some 40 local ski runs received at least one vote in this contest but nothing ” not Hanging Valley, not Bell Mountain, not Panda Peak ” could even hold a candle to Highland Bowl.

The Bowl got votes in several ways: Some cast ballots for the North Woods, while others favored Grahamster’s, G-4 and G-8. Two readers (were they cooperating?) said simply “The Bowl ” straight down.”

Plenty of other local favorites ended up on this list, including steeps like Walsh’s, Face of Bell, Steeplechase and Headwall, cruisers like Ruthie’s, Naked Lady and Copper, and bunny slopes like Fanny Hill and Panda Peak.

One reader from another planet wrote “don’t ski.”

Ashcroft was the winner in this category, and we think readers made a fine choice. Who wouldn’t want to spend a winter day gliding through the meadows and aspen glades of the upper Castle Creek Valley?

The Aspen Golf Course was close behind, and a handful of people cast ballots for the Owl Creek Trail, Aspen High School, the Rio Grande Trail, North Star Preserve and the Snowmass golf course.

One grump said “they all suck,” but cross-country enthusiasts won’t mind a bit if he just stays home.

Jerry Garcia has dominated this category in recent years, but Elvis appears to have come back to life.

Other vote-getters in this uniquely Aspen category included John Denver, Jimi Hendrix, Fort Frog, “lady shrine highlands” and “naked lady smoke shack.”

Yankee Stadium made the list, and this one piqued the staff’s interest: “Future Harley Baldwin.”

This is always a fun category to read, because it’s a catalog of Aspen’s favorite walks. Is any hike really “the best”? Probably not ” it depends on the day, the weather, the company, the conditions, etc.

Whatever the case, Hunter Creek took the honors this year, which is appropriate for a walk that starts inside the city limits and carries hikers up into a spectacular mountain valley. Runners-up included standbys like American Lake, Cathedral Lake, Sunnyside, Ute Trail, Smuggler, Lost Man, Grizzly Lake, Capitol Lake and numerous others.

Hanging Lake, down near Glenwood Springs, got four votes. Carbondale’s Mushroom Rock got three, and Basalt’s Arbaney-Kittle Trail got three.

“The steps to Jimmy’s” drew only one vote, but Times staffers got a laugh out of it.

Yet again, the paved road to the Maroon Bells won this category with 24 votes. Twenty-four other rides got at least one vote ” excluding gibberish like “not on the roads” and “Main Street in the bus lane” ” and they included both mountain bike trails and popular road routes.

Among the road rides were Independence Pass, Ashcroft and Basalt-to-Aspen. Mountain bike rides included Government Trail, Hay Park, Prince Creek singletrack, Smuggler and Rim Trail.

We think they’re all good.

Pyramid Peak wins again, with 22 votes.

Of course, many other big Elk Range peaks received votes: Maroon Peak (8), North Maroon (4), Snowmass (2), Castle (4), Sopris (9), Daly (2), Hayden (1). Even Pike’s Peak got two votes, despite being several hours from Aspen, and La Plata, on the east side of Independence Pass, got one.

One celebrity-journalism fan mentioned Aspen Peak magazine. One psychedelically inclined voter cast his lot with “mushrooms.”

According to this thoroughly unscientific poll, Aspenites prefer the view from Smuggler Mountain to all the others in this valley full of views. Understandable, since the observation platform on Smuggler Mountain Road stares straight across at the slopes of Aspen Mountain spilling down to town.

Of course, the view from those slopes isn’t half-bad either, which explains why “the gondola” finished second, with 17 votes to Smuggler’s 25.

Other popular views included the top of the Ute Trail, the one from Red Mountain, Sunnyside, the Sundeck, the top of Red Butte and Tiehack.

One computer geek prefers the view of Aspen from Google Earth, while another crank ” Aspen has quite a few, doesn’t it? ” prefers the view of Aspen “in my rearview mirror.”

Aspen is a town full of adrenaline junkies and, naturally, there are dozens of organized races ” for bicyclists, for runners, for winter uphillers, for dog-owners, and even for tiny rubber duckies. And most of them raise money for a good cause, like finding a cure for breast cancer.

The winner in this category was the Ride for the Cure. The Ducky Derby, through which the Rotary club raises money for a variety of causes, came in second place. The Boogie’s Buddy Five foot race also garnered a number of votes, as did the K9 Uphill, the Aspen Celebrity Downhill, Storm the Stars, the Race for the Cure and even the defunct 24 Hours of Aspen.

We expected people to cast ballots for citizen-participation races, as opposed to big sporting events, but several votes were cast for both World Cup ski racing and X Games.

Again, we like ’em all.