Sweet sassy molassy, there are only eight trails left in the contest for Colorado’s greatest hike

It’s time to pick the Foot-y Four in our Mile High Hiking Quest. You’re going to want to try these hikes.

Meet the Elevated Eight in Denver's Mile High Hiking Quest.

Meet the Elevated Eight in Denver's Mile High Hiking Quest.

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Billions of people have tuned in. Trillions of tears have touched their faces. Twenty-four of Colorado’s finest hikes have been eliminated. And two of those numbers were exaggerations.

Yes, friends, it’s time to announce the results of the second round of Denver’s Mile High Hiking Quest, the unlikely tournament sensation that is reportedly sweeping the nation, presented by the Hike to End Hunger.

Let’s get straight to it, preferably before I get so excited that I pack up my iMac and go live in the mountains. First, you’ll find the voting machine for the third round, which will take us from the Elevated Eight to the Foot-y Four. (Here’s a helpful guide to the hikes.)

Then, we’ll have recaps of the latest matchups.

The Alpine Lakes Conference:

A newspaper reporter looks out on a lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

A newspaper reporter looks out on a lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

The Rocky Mountain Goon Squad beats Herman Lake

Everyone knows that Herman Lake became the UMBC of this tournament when it took down Sky Pond. Would it happen again? Would this nerdily named (sorry, Hermans) body of water take down the nation’s fourth-busiest national park and its all-star goon squad of high-altitude lakes?

Nah. The combined power of Bear, Nymph, Dream, Emerald and Haiyaha lakes trampled Herman by a 30-point margin. It’s just hard to beat a day hike that hits five different lakes, each with their own attitude and aesthetic.

  • Alpine Globetrotters: 64.8%
  • Herman: 35.2%

Chicago Lakes barely beats Blue Lake

Wow. The watercooler chat about this one was out of control. Everyone was like, “Man, I love to hike from a busy trailhead up to a lake that is named after its jewel-like hue,” or, alternatively, “It’s crazy how isolated the upper Chicago Lake feels, even though it sits on the haunches of busy Mt. Evans, just 60 minutes from Denver.”

Well, that second thing really worked. Chicago Lakes edged out our thinnest margin yet.

  • Chicago Lakes: 51%
  • Brainard Lake to Blue Lake: 49%

The Summits Conference:

Longs Peak beats Mt. Elbert

What’s more Colorado: cruising up a relatively easy trail to bag the highest peak in the state, or suffering for many long hours to climb the dangerous, angry pile of rock that haunts the Front Range?

Well, Longs Peak won, and apparently 56.3 percent of y’all are masochists.

  • Longs Peak via Keyhole: 56.3%
  • Mt. Elbert: 43.8%

Grays + Torreys beats Mt. Bierstadt

The double-trouble twins of rubble known as Grays and Torreys mounted an easy victory over Mt. Bierstadt. I’m guessing that G+T capitalized on their superb beauty and convenience to Denver, along with the fact that Bierstadt is super crowded.

  • Grays + Torreys: 65.4%
  • Mt. Bierstadt: 34.6%

The Long & Tough Foothills Conference:

Royal Arch Trail beats Manitou Incline

The pride of Boulder took down the master of Manitou in this contest of the trails that make me sweaty. I thought Manitou had a solid chance with its unique design (hike straight up this stupid mountain), but Royal Arch benefitted from home-field advantage as well as people’s love of rock arches. Seriously, rocks in the air!

  • Royal Arch Trail: 55.6%
  • Manitou Incline: 44.4%

South Boulder Peak beats Green Mountain

Boulder vs. Boulder? The tournament is cruel, but the game must be played. It’s hard to say what happened here. Maybe the fans got confused because there’s also a Green Mountain in Jefferson County. Maybe they respected the extra 400 feet of elevation on South Boulder Peak. Maybe they like things named Boulder. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.

  • South Boulder Peak: 56.6%
  • 43.4%

The Accessible & Easier Foothills Conference:

Elk Meadow beats Bear Canyon Loop

Not so fast, Smoky Bear. This is large deer nation. That’s what the voters said in this face-off between two of Colorado’s gentle-but-iconic giants. In the end, Jeffco’s jewel took down Boulder’s bear.

  • Elk Meadow: 60.8%
  • Bear Canyon Loop: 39.2%

Bear Creek Trail at Lair o’ the Bear beats Castlewood Canyon

Oh, good. I thought we were going to run out of bears in this tournament. Luckily, Bear Creek Trail at Lair o’ the Bear has a fantastic name, a healthy amount of shade and a lovely rushing creek. Castlewood Canyon, the fans loved your geology, but … you are the weakest link.

  • Bear Creek Trail at Lair o’ the Bear: 64.9%
  • Castlewood Canyon: 35.1%