Summit Suds: Boulder Lake Trail and Orphan Boy Amber |

Summit Suds: Boulder Lake Trail and Orphan Boy Amber

Stunning mountain views from the shores of Boulder Lake, an easy offshoot from the Gore Range Trail.
File photo

This column was originally published as “Hikes and hops: Trail and beer pairings to enjoy everything Summit has to offer” in the summer 2019 edition of Explore Summit Magazine. Pick one up or visit for the full article.

A fabulous way for locals and tourists alike to treat themselves in Summit County is sipping a beer after exercise, whether that be skiing, hiking, biking, paddleboarding or any other outdoor activity. As the snow finally melts and trails dry, now is a great time to explore the wilderness on foot and follow up with a celebratory beverage on a brewery patio.

Being residents of this active community themselves, here are some favorite trails and craft concoctions combos handpicked by brewers.

Almost all local breweries have canned four packs, crowlers (a growler in a can), or accept fills of more portable, non-glass growlers made of materials such as plastic. However, as public consumption is illegal, it is best to consume these beverages at your trailhead rental, other domicile or the brewery itself post-recovery stretching.

Boulder Lake Trail

It was somewhat difficult for A.J. Brinckerhoff to pick a single hike since Angry James Brewing is a brief jaunt from a multitude of trailheads, but a standout for the owner and brewmaster is the Boulder Lake Trail.

“There’s two lakes, a lower and an upper, and they’re absolutely breathtaking,” Brinckerhoff said. “The fun thing about Boulder Lakes is that it opens up and you have some great camp spots and the brook trout fishing is really good.”

The trailhead is accessed from the Rock Creek trailhead. To get there, travel north on Highway 9 through Silverthorne for 7.7 miles. Turn left onto Rock Creek Road (County Road 1350) and turn left again on Rock Creek after 1.2 miles. The parking lot is then 1.7 miles up a four-wheel-drive road.

It’s a moderate, 2.7-mile hike to the lower lake with 257 feet in elevation gain. To reach the more difficult upper lake, continue on for 1.5 miles and the maintained trail ends at a meadow. There is then another 1.8 miles to go — through a dense, non-maintained forest trail — before arriving.

“If you’re willing to go that extra distance, you’ll get even more remote into the Gore Range,” said Brinckerhoff. “It’s just pine forest, huge granite rock, and a lot of times in the summer you’ll get a thunderstorm that rolls in real quick every day. But as soon as that storm is done you feel like you’re in this green jungle where everything comes to life after the rain.”

Fittingly, Brinckerhoff said their Orphan Boy Amber — named after a nearby private cabin — would be the optimal post-hike drink. “It’s just a nice, balanced, malty and hoppy beer that’s an easy drinker, which is what you want at the end of a hike. It’s got enough flavor but it’s not too heavy or high in alcohol.” Additionally, the woodsy flavor profile of the Dr. Rudi hops complement the outdoors. “They give you a nice fruity, but also piney, flavor and aroma.”

Jefferson Geiger is the arts & entertainment editor for the Summit Daily News. Have a question about beer? Send him an email at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User