As the Colorado Tourism Office will happily tell you, you don’t have to go far to feel far away on the Front Range. Case in point: Evergreen. The town boasts a vast trail network, a pristine lake, and a thriving arts scene (catch the Evergreen Fine Arts Festival from August 25 to 26). The best part? It’s all just 45 minutes from Denver.

Evergreen running
Photograph by Sarah Boyum

Caffeinate Like a Local

Start your day at Evergreen’s community coffeeshop, the Muddy Buck Cafe. While ordering an Indonesian or Ethiopian blend—sourced globally and hand-roasted in-house—ask your barista about the charred rock walls and wood beams dating back to the building’s former life as the Evergreen Hotel, founded in 1896. (The place has been a magnet for fires over the decades.) Return on Wednesday evenings for a cocktail or craft beer during the cafe’s free open mic nights (4 to 9 p.m.).

Shred The Parks

What goes up must come down. That’ll be your mantra as you and your mountain bike tackle an intermediate 13-mile loop that begins in Alderfer/Three Sisters Park, runs through Dedisse Park, and summits scenic Evergreen Mountain, climbing a total of 1,973 feet. The route provides satisfying terrain for all rider levels, from flowy downhills for beginners to rocky technical sections for more seasoned weekend warriors. Tip: Start early to descend without having to dodge the hiking crowds.

Go Chasing Waterfalls

There are a number of reasons why the Maxwell Falls Lower Trail in Arapaho National Forest has become one of the more popular hikes in the Denver area. For starters, the family-friendly trek loops approximately 4.6 miles through inviting pine forests and over pleasant creek crossings. The most exciting features, however, are the picturesque falls, which you’ll encounter about 1.7 miles in.

Evergreen Beer
Photograph by Sarah Boyum

Break For Beers (And Lunch Too)

Oh Crêpe Colorado, an artisan food truck that debuted this past October in Evergreen’s historic downtown, sells delectable French crêpes, such as a pulled pork and Hatch green chile special and the popular bacon, egg, and Swiss. (Have your dog with you? The canine-friendly food truck has fake grass platforms next to several of its outdoor tables, complete with leash hooks and water bowls.) Across town, Revival Brews stocks a rotating menu of 12 craft beers, and just a little farther down the road, Lariat Lodge Brewing Co. makes its own suds. The eponymous IPA is especially tasty.

Evergreen lake life
Photograph by Sarah Boyum

Live The Lake Life

After a taxing day on the trails, relax by the tranquil waters of Evergreen Lake. Rent a paddleboard from Evergreen Park & Recreation or catch a free concert on the Evergreen Lake House grounds (held every other Wednesday evening through August). Denver’s crowd-pleasing Tunisia—and its covers of everyone from Earth, Wind & Fire to Katy Perry—closes out the series’ 21st season on August 29.

Gear Up, Glam Up

Downtown Evergreen has long had a fun collection of boutiques, but recently it’s begun adding more diverse destinations. Basin & Bend, a sporting goods retailer specializing in hunting and fishing gear, opened in October, and Blain Lake Antiques, which debuted in March, sells an assortment of local collectibles, ranging from ski lodge decor to vintage mining and railroad pieces.

Little Bear Saloon
Little Bear Saloon. Photograph by Sarah Boyum

Wind Down The Western Way

No trip to Evergreen would be complete without catching a show at the Little Bear Saloon. Big names like Willie Nelson have graced the venue’s intimate stage; nowadays, you can catch local favorites such as guitarist and banjoist David Potter. Yes, you could order a craft beer, but one look at the unique scenery—license plates, bras, etc.—and you’ll realize that a shot of Jack complements the place better.