3 Trail to Taproom Hikes to Take This Fall
These beer-and-trail pairings are refreshing from the first step to the last sip.
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Hike Lower Macleay Trail, Forest Park, Oregon
Brewery: Great Notion Brewing NW
Step straight from singletrack to the brewery at the Lower Macleay Trail in Portland’s 5,200-acre Forest Park. Hike first, following the curves of Balch Creek, where fluorescent-green mossy branches overhang the trail and pileated woodpeckers tap for insects. A weathered stone house (the “Witch’s Castle”), sprouts ferns at mile 1. The low rustle of the trees blends with the burbling sounds of a winding creek along part of the trail, the water slipping over moss-edged rocks. Continue straight onto the Wildwood Trail for another 1.6 miles, switchbacking up 850 feet to Pittock Mansion, the historic château of former Oregonian newspaper owner Henry Pittock. From this perch you’re eye-to-eye with 11,000-foot Mt. Hood, with downtown Portland spread across the valley below. Retrace your steps back to the parking lot to finish the 5-mile out-and-back, then walk .5-mile north on 29th and NW Nicolai Streets to Great Notion Brewing NW. Having worked up a thirst, settle onto a stool at the lumberjack-inspired brewery and order up one of their award-winning IPAs—or a flight of beers on a board shaped like Oregon.
Hike Dragon’s Tooth Trail, Jefferson National Forest, Virginia
Brewery: Old Salem Brewing Company
The Dragon’s Tooth trail takes strong legs to slay. This 4.8-mile out-and-back up Cove Mountain climbs more than 1,200 feet in 2.4 miles over steep, rocky terrain. Cross over creekbeds and through mountain laurel on this climb, reaching the Lost Spectacles campsite at mile 1.7. Turn right to pick up the Appalachian Trail and continue .7 mile up the most grueling section of the hike, which requires scrambling over tire-size boulders, a series of iron-rung ladders, and a final clamber up a 10-foot-tall rock slab. At the top, the trail’s namesake—a 35-foot quartzite spire—juts dramatically skyward. A body-width crack up the back of the “tooth” leads you to views of the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains fading into distant shades of indigo. Retrace your steps, then drive 19 minutes southeast to the Olde Salem Brewing Company—a taproom inside a 200-year-old brick building. Try the Work Hard Play Hard Pilsner and toast your accomplishment on the Dragon’s Tooth.
Hike Sugarloaf Mountain Trail, Sugarloaf Mountain, Michigan
Brewery: Barrel +Beam
The 2-mile hike up Sugarloaf Mountain might be short, but the views are some of the best in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula. Follow the sign at the junction away from the stairs and along a root-covered path. Both options lead to the same sweeping overlook, with Lake Superior to one side and rolling hills of jack pine and northern hardwood forests on the other. Fall foliage spreads around and below the trail in a blaze of color at the overlook, the orange leaves bright against the deep blue lake. Follow the stairs down the opposite side of the overlook for a new view of the fall forest. After returning to the trailhead, drive 15 minutes south to Barrel + Beam, a hand-hewn log cabin tucked into the fall leafage. The supper-club-turned-brewery, built by a Wisconsin couple who fell in love with the area on a summer vacation in 1933, pours and sells farmhouse and barrel-aged ales by the bottle.