Berthoud is one of the last, truly old-timey Colorado towns left standing along the Front Range. Its quaint feel is not, however, to be underestimated. Within the town limits, green space abounds, and most spots just so happen to align with a host of delicious eateries, making picnic options not only convenient, but also plentiful. Once you venture just outside the town, you’ll find yourself amidst beautiful wild spaces, and you can usually enjoy them all to yourself—a welcome respite from the typically crowded shores of the nearby Boulder and Horsetooth Reservoirs—ensuring you end your weekend in Berthoud not only feeling rested, but also rejuvenated.
Day 1 — Beach Break
Just because we happen to live in an incredibly square, landlocked state doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a day at the beach. Carter Lake, a more than 1,000-acre reservoir, is the perfect stop for your swimming, fishing, sailing, climbing, picnicking, camping and even scuba diving needs. As you kick it back on the shore, you’d never guess you were lounging at 5,760 feet, resting in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Before you head to the lake, stop downtown at Hay’s Market and stock up on BBQ lunch supplies—which might vary depending on your fishing confidence (the lake is filled with trout and walleyes for you to hook). Several grills and picnic tables line the south shore, so make sure you pack grillable sides in order to maximize the experience. As you drive out of town towards the water, don’t miss the view of Longs Peak looming directly on the horizon.
Once you’re at the lake, enjoy a morning paddle. Unload your canoe, kayak or stand up paddle board at the southern end of the lake, and glide north along the lake’s three-mile length. Or, if you’re looking to rent a boat, you’ll find most of what you need, from pontoons to classic fishing boats, at the Carter Lake Marina.
After a grilled lunch, explore the 3.3-mile Sundance Trail, a single-track path that lines the western edge of the lake. Carter Lake is dog friendly, so bring Fido along, but make sure he’s on a leash at all times. After a few rolling hills and zig zags between evergreen trees, you’ll reach the calm waters of the northern shore.
Alternatively, if you walk over to the eastern side, you’ll find several boulders scattered across the rocky shore. With more than a dozen classic bouldering problems, some of which are only available depending how low the waterline is, bringing along a crash pad and some climbing shoes is not a bad bet.
Then, spend the rest of the afternoon lounging on the south shore’s beach, replete with sand and gently lapping waves. Dinner calls for a stop at the Berthoud Pizza Company for a slice (or two) of your favorite Italian pie. Then walk across the street to City Star Brewing, and enjoy their award-winning, small-batch ales in an intimate setting and weekend-night live music. End the first day of your weekend in Berthoud by spending the night at the Berthoud Inn, built in 1888, for a real taste of Colorado’s pioneer history.
Day 2 — Tour the farm and picnic on the square
Start off your day with a steaming cup of Jo from Da Bean, the local coffee shop, before walking over to the hole-in-the-wall breakfast burrito joint Mi Cocina. Choose from the wide variety of burritos and enjoy them as you peruse the charming shops along Mountain Avenue.
For the rest of the day, get down to Colorado’s agricultural roots. Spend the day outside, among the local farms and open spaces dotted in and around the town. Call ahead and set up your tour of The Farmer and Adele, a small organic farm that specializes in herbs, vegetables, flowers, honey and gourds. They also host free-range chickens on the farm—from which you can buy fresh eggs—and a small bee farm. The Farmer and Adele offers classes on farming practices, honey production, woodworking, and cooking with local and organic products, too.
Once you’ve had your feel-good farm fix, head back into town and visit Rise Artisan Bread to pick up an easy, ready-to-go picnic lunch. At this modest mom-and-pop shop you’ll find a range of hand-crafted breads and other baked goods, most notably their Green Chile Cheddar baguette and weekend macaroon specials. There’s something for everyone here—savory sandwiches and paninis made with local ingredients, plus a host of sweet treats.
Walk across the street to Fickle Park, the green and grassy epicenter of town, and lay down the picnic blanket to relax in the abundant shade, thanks to several aged pines. As you wind down from your weekend in Berthoud, stop by the Berthoud Brewing Company to sample the unique, Northern Colorado-sourced brews on their diverse menu.