Story Highlights:

  • Terrain Magazine recognizes best people, businesses, and activities in the
    St. Louis outdoors

Saying farewell to 2020 (thank goodness) and looking forward to 2021. Here are your favorite outdoor activities, destinations, business, and people.

Current Affairs

Best Park for Escaping Crowds
Winner: Greensfelder County Park
With more than 1,700 acres of rolling hills crisscrossed by 30 miles of multi-use trail, this heavily forested park in Wildwood, Missouri, continues to provide outdoor enthusiasts lots of room to spread out and pretend they’re hiking, running, or biking toward the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that is the COVID-19 pandemic. Be sure to fill your water bottle at home — as of this writing, spigots were still shut off at the shelters and visitor center. Portable toilets, however, were open.
Runners-up: Forest Park, Don Robinson State Park, West Tyson County Park

Best Virtual Event of 2020
Winner: Cabin Fever
We thought family Zoom calls were a shoo-in, but regional nonprofit Gateway to the Great Outdoors took top honors for its quarantine-friendly “camp-in” event. Youth were invited to bed down in the safety of their homes and participate in an evening of livestreamed activities like campfire stories, sing-alongs, cooking, crafts, and more. Science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) curriculum was interwoven throughout, making Cabin Fever both entertaining and educational.
Runners-up: Run the Missouri, Pedal the Cause, Gateway Resilience Run & Ride

St. Louis Gateway Cup

Gateway Cup is St. Louis’ premier road cycling event.

Event You Can’t Wait to Return in 2021
Winner: Gateway Cup
Whether you’re a competitive cyclist or just a fun-loving fan, there was probably a big hole on your calendar last Labor Day with the cancellation of the 37th annual Gateway Cup. Our city’s premier road race series normally takes place over four days on the historic neighborhood streets of Lafayette, Francis Park, The Hill, and Benton Park, attracting thousands of participants and spectators — and an estimated $250,000 in revenue. It was sorely missed. The Gateway Cup is expected to return from September 3 to 6, 2021.
Runners-up: GO! St. Louis Marathon & Family Fitness Weekend, Moonlight Ramble, Trailnet Bicycle Fun Club Rides

Best Addition to the Regional Outdoors in 2020
Winner: Eureka Mountain Bike Park
Sometimes, statistics don’t tell the whole story. This is one of those times. The trails at Eureka Mountain Bike Park in western St. Louis County may only measure 1 mile in total distance with a max descent of about 200 feet, but its opening last June represents a radical step forward. The 8 acres of professionally designed hillside hold a dual slalom course, directional flow trails, jump lines, skill zone with wooden features, kid’s bike playground, and a perimeter hiking trail — perfect for the whole family and groundbreaking for the local mountain biking community (see page 40 for more).
Runners-up: Gravois Greenway Extension, St. Charles Youth Activity Park Pump Track, Bluff View/Zombie Trail Improvements (Extra Credit)

Outdoor Activity You Missed Most in 2020
Winner: Races
What is it about racing that appeals to us? It’s an interesting question. Maybe racing reminds us of the feeling that first motivated us to do something outside our norm. (Remember your first mountain bike ride or long-distance run?) Or perhaps it’s the camaraderie — getting together with like-minded folks and celebrating what we love to do. It’s a way of feeling part of something bigger, something special. In the words of journalist and runner Christopher McDougall, “The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other but to be with each other.” Makes sense, now more than ever.
Runners-up: Group Runs/Rides, Concerts/Festivals, Professional Sports

Best Outdoor Activity for Social Distancing
Winner: Cycling
Sixty-one percent of our readers identify as cyclists, so it’s no surprise you turned to your bike when social distancing became a thing. And why not? The roads were less crowded. The outside air seemed fresher, the sun warmer. It became more acceptable, even commendable, to bike to the neighborhood market. Virtual events made it possible to ride in your first race anytime, anywhere while supporting local businesses. None of us is a fan of COVID, but as the pandemic continues, cycling remains one of the best ways to maintain our physical and mental health at a safe distance.
Runners-up: Mountain Biking, Hiking, Running

Destinations

Best Regional Park (County/City)
Winner: Greensfelder County Park
As noted earlier, this wildly beautiful park has a lot going for it. The alpine-like terrain could have been lifted straight from the Ozark Mountains, making the trails here difficult but also beloved by mountain bikers, runners, and equestrians who crave a challenge. Amenities include a nature center, four reservable shelters, multiple picnic areas, equestrian facilities, and year-round campsites and restrooms. Drive Loop Road in fall to admire the changing colors, or better yet, hike or ride up to the Beulah Trail overlook for the best panorama in Wildwood.
Runners-up: Tower Grove Park, Cliff Cave County Park, Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park
Hall of Fame: Forest Park

Hawn State Park

Hawn State Park in Ste. Genevieve County.

Best Regional Park (National/State)
Winner: Hawn State Park
Named for Helen Coffer Hawn, who willed nearly 1,500 acres of rugged hills and streams to the state upon her death in 1952, there’s a historic, “hidden gem” quality about this park located in western Ste. Genevieve County. The 4,956 total acres offer some of the most scenic hiking trails around, including 12-mile Whispering Pines, 4-mile White Oaks, and 2-mile Pickle Creek. A trek here invites views of rare rock formations, old-growth trees, high cliffs, and sandy-bottom creeks. Come for the day or the weekend and take advantage of the park’s campsites, reservable picnic area, and kid’s playground.
Runners-up: Mark Twain National Forest, Echo Bluff State Park, Elephant Rocks State Park
Hall of Fame: Castlewood State Park

Best Greenway/Hard Surface Trail
Winner: Gravois Greenway
The already popular Gravois Greenway took on even greater prominence last year when a 2-mile extension connected it to the River des Peres Greenway. This created 21.5 miles of continuous paved trail linking St. Louis City and County, seven municipalities, eight parks, two libraries, recreation facilities, a MetroLink station, historic sites, neighborhoods, and businesses. “It has taken a lot of planning, partnership, and creativity to deliver the greenway connection people have been asking for,” said Susan Trautman, Great Rivers Greenway’s CEO. “It’s a short but powerful connection.” (See our Nov/Dec 2020 issue for more.)
Runners-up: Katy Trail State Park, Madison County Transit (MCT) Trails, Meramec Greenway

Best Hiking/Trail Running Trail
Winner: Rockwoods Reservation
Spanning 1,843 acres of Ozarkian landscape in western St. Louis County, Rockwoods Reservation supports a rich array of plants and animals in its lush springs, caves, ravines, creeks, and glades. The 13 miles of footpaths here vary in length and difficulty, the most popular being Green Rock, according to you, our voters. This trail is unique in that it connects three park and conservation areas in its 14.3 total miles: Rockwoods Reservation (3.6 miles), Greensfelder County Park (7.8 miles), and Rockwoods Range (2.9 miles). Be prepared for deep forest and rocky climbs and descents on this old and diverse backwoods favorite.
Runners-up: Lewis & Clark Trail, Bluff View/Zombie Trail, Castlewood State Park

Best Mountain Biking Trail
Winner: Greensfelder County Park
It can feel like a maze to first timers — heck, even to old timers — but there’s nothing quite like riding at Greensfelder. Gateway Off-Road Cyclists (GORC) first broke ground here in 2004 and has since added 20+ miles, and that’s without looping together the seven (or so) trails. Each has its own flavor: Dogwood (2.6 miles) is short and flowy; DeClue (8 miles) is scrappy and technical; Eagle Valley (3.4 miles) is chat-covered double-track with the exception of 0.3 miles of single-track behind the visitor center. The Beulah and Fossil Ridge trails have received the most recent work. Both are narrow and punchy, with limestone outcroppings to keep you on your toes.
Runners-up: Castlewood State Park, Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, Cliff Cave County Park
Hall of Fame: Bluff View/Zombie Trail

Best Campground
Winner: Hawn State Park
Next to your own backyard, the best place to camp sans crowds could be the secluded walk-in sites at Hawn State Park, located about 70 miles south of St. Louis. For those who prefer more in the way of services, the park also offers basic and electric campsites with water, restrooms, and showers to offset the primitive ones. As mentioned in the Best Regional Park (National/State) category, Hawn is hard to beat when it comes to unspoiled countryside and scenic hiking trails, so don’t leave your boots at home.
Runners-up: Council Bluff Recreation Area, Mark Twain National Forest, Echo Bluff State Park

Best Paddling Spot
Winner: Current River
Along with being a two-time winner in our Readers’ Choice Awards, the Current boasts an impressive resume. It has been rated the No. 1 canoe camping river in the US as well as one of the most scenic canoe trips in the country. It also was the first river in America to become a National Scenic Waterway. Beautiful caves, springs, and gravel bars help maintain a consistent flow of cool water and allow for year-round use. Both new and veteran floaters will appreciate the comfortable speed and serenity of this relatively flat, easy-going river.
Runners-up: Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, Meramec River, Missouri River

Robinson Bluff

Robinson Bluff is a climbing oasis just 60 miles from St. Louis.

Best Rock Climbing Area
Winner: Robinson Bluff
A privately developed climbing destination about 60 miles south of St. Louis, Robinson Bluff has made a name for itself since its 2018 debut. The 3,600-foot-long escarpment features 150 bolted routes of all grades (5.3 to 5.13), some soaring more than 100 feet high. Most are sport routes, though a few of the towers require the rare Missouri multi-pitch. The bluff’s composition is likewise noteworthy: its Ordovician dolomite has been compared to the famed French limestone, the “champagne of rock”. You can stay onsite at one of 21 campsites located just steps from the crag.
Runners-up: Elephant Rocks State Park, Pere Marquette State Park, Giant City State Park
Hall of Fame: Jackson Falls

Best Outdoor Road Trip
Winner: Missouri Ozarks
A bounty of outdoor activities awaits in this 47,000-square-mile region covering southern Missouri. You can mountain bike along stream-carved ravines, climb majestic bluffs overlooking gorgeous wilderness, or paddle down pristine rivers fed by crystal-clear springs. State and federal parks pepper the area, from Johnson’s Shut-Ins to Mark Twain National Forest, with the 390-mile Ozark Trail connecting the wooded peaks and valleys for a variety of hiking and camping experiences. Beside the natural wonders, you’ll find other attractions like water parks, historic wineries, lake resorts, and more.
Runners-up: Branson, Missouri; Johnson Shut-Ins State Park; Northern Wisconsin
Hall of Fame: Bentonville, Arkansas

People

Best Outdoor Guide/Instructor/Coach
Winner: Jay Thomas (Roots MTB)
This repeat winner is an instructor’s instructor, literally. As the only Bike Instructor Certification Program (BICP) Certified Level 3 Instructor in Missouri, Jay Thomas is qualified to teach other mountain biking instructors how to conduct advanced-level training. His true love, though, is helping up-and-coming adult mountain bikers to safely develop their skills. He does this through hosting clinics and retreats at Roots MTB, the St. Louis-based company he founded in 2014. Thomas and his team of certified instructors provide group and private instruction for riders in cities around the state, spring through fall.
Runners-up: Nadav Sprague (Gateway to the Great Outdoors), Cody Jones (Wheels Up), Bob Dyer (Running Niche)

Best Regional Outdoor Athlete
Winner: Julia KohnenFlorissant, Missouri, native Julia Kohnen grew up playing soccer but became a four-time Division II All-American in cross country and track when she switched sports in her senior year at Southern Indiana University. She completed her first 26.2-mile race in 2016, the MO’ Cowbell Marathon, which she won in a time of 2:47:47. The phenom continued running marathons, ultimately qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials, where she earned 10th place in 2:30:43. Kohnen recently moved to Arizona to run professionally for Ben Rosario’s HOKA NAZ Elite team.
Runners-up: Omar Abdi, Christian Hon, Laura Scherff

Best Outdoor Store Employee
Winner: Angie Bono (Alpine Shop)
Store manager Angie Bono, a 21-year Alpine Shop veteran, juggles a lot of jobs: internal communications, coordinating with off-site buyers, meeting customers on the sales floor, personnel management. She’s also a certified pedorthist and has fit thousands of people for boots over the years. “We have a staff that’s been together a long time, and I think it’s because we all really like where we work,” she said. “We invest in training our people and keeping them around. And we hang out together. We go on backpacking and canoeing trips. There’s a real family feel here.” Spoken like a true team player, and leader.
Runners-up: Joey Russell (Take A Hike Shop), Mike Weiss (Big Shark Bicycle Company), Ron Clip (The Hub Bicycle Company)

Jean Ponzi

Jean Ponzi of KDHX Earthworms.

Best Regional Environmentalist/Conservationist
Winner: Jean Ponzi (KDHX Earthworms)
Jean Ponzi describes her radio program (now a podcast) as “a conversation about the environment, plain and simple. Never scripted.” She launched Earthworms in 1989 and invited local and, later, global environmentalists on the air to talk about their work. “There was little to no coverage of environmentalism in the media,” she said. A pioneer not only in her field of coverage but also as a female radio host, Ponzi says she’s gratified Earthworms still has life. “Educating and motivating people to do the green things is critical, because we’re the ones on the chopping block.”
Runners-up: Nadav Spraque (Gateway to the Great Outdoors), Cindy Mense (Trailnet), Glen Myer (Gateway Off-Road Cyclists)

Best Sports Doctor/Physical Therapist
Winner: Lauren Huckstep (Athletico Physical Therapy)
Assistant facility manager at Athletico Physical Therapy in Eureka, Lauren Huckstep believes in tough love. “I’m thorough and meticulous. I’m going to look at everything,” said the doctor of physical therapy and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). “I challenge my clients to accept the exercise prescription and continue it [as specified].” This, she says, is how athletes can keep performing at a high level as they age. “PT is boring and monotonous, I know, but if you shift your mentality and make it part of your lifestyle, that will set you up for a reduction of injury risk for years to come.”
Runners-up: Lauren Hendrix (West County Spine & Joint), Taylor Bushnell (Peak Sport & Spine), Tom Nuzum (TheraPlus)

Best Regional Outdoor Photographer
Winner: Alex Noguera (Alex Noguera Photography)
Alex Noguera has a vision: to help people get into mountain biking and trail building through purposeful photography. “I want to bring together what I do with my bike and my shovel and put a lens on it,” he said. For the past few years, the fireman has been organizing photo shoots on local trails and attending GORC workdays to record the St. Louis mountain biking community in action. “Maybe if people get to see what takes place for these trails to exist and the human beings making it happen, they show more appreciation and consider their actions before they do something that could harm a trail,” he said. “Or maybe they join up.”
Runners-up: Marcus Janzow (Janzow Photography), Dan Singer (Dan Singer Photography), Russell Ward (Fourth City Photography)

Best Social Media Follow
Winner: OneMTB (YouTube)
Since winning this category in our last Readers’ Choice Awards, Justin Rausch, the writer/creator/talent behind OneMTB, has reached 4,000 subscribers and 176,864 views. Not bad for a 14-year-old from south St. Louis County. “My video quality has improved. They’re more polished and better to watch,” he said, “and I definitely think I’ve become a better rider.” Topics range from bike hacks to gear reviews to riding how-tos. Rausch hopes his video portfolio will help in the job market down the road. “You don’t have to be a pro rider to have a YouTube channel,” he said. “If you make the videos interesting and fun, people will watch.”
Runners-up: Terrain Magazine (Facebook/Instagram/YouTube), STL Mountain Bikers (Facebook), Backyard Trail Builds (YouTube/Instagram)

Businesses

Best Running Store
Winner: Running Niche
To be named a Best Running Store 2020, you must be willing to be secret shopped and evaluated on greeting, fitting process, sales associate knowledge, store appearance and operations, and overall purchase experience. Running Niche earned the honor this year, making up for a subdued two-year anniversary for the little shop in The Grove neighborhood of St. Louis. In addition to offing a highly functional yet distinctive inventory, co-owner Bob Dyer has a 2:21:00 marathon finish to his name and is a certified coach in the Lydiard Training Method. Not ready for Team Running Niche? The shop hosts free weekly run/walk groups, too.
Runners-up: Fleet Feet Sports (St. Charles), Big River Running Company (South City), Fleet Feet Sports (South County)
Hall of Fame: Big River Running Company (West County)

Take A Hike Shop St. Charles

Take A Hike Shop in St. Charles’ Frenchtown neighborhood.

Best Bike Shop
Winner: Take A Hike Shop
How does an unconventional adventure store in the Frenchtown neighborhood of St. Charles win over some of St. Louis’ best known bike shops? Character, authenticity, and customer service. Not only does the offbeat business carry a selection of hard-to-find brands that have been handpicked after extensive research, it also builds up and makes over bikes under the name Huevos Rancheros BC — with a large (and growing) following. The shop’s weekly rides are always unique (you might find owner Joey Russell dressed as Macho Man Randy Savage) and the after parties are the stuff of legend.
Runners-up: The Hub Bicycle Company, Pedego St. Louis, Big Shark Bicycle Company (Chesterfield)

Best Outdoor Store
Winner: REI St. Louis
There’s a reason REI has grown to operate 158 stores in 37 states. The retail giant regularly receives praise for the overall selection and quality of its gear, which extends across the outdoor spectrum and includes a custom REI Co-op label of apparel and equipment. An in-store bike shop, gear repair services, and a flexible return policy further boost customer service and convenience. On a local level, REI St. Louis offers a full calendar of instructional programs, from backcountry navigation to making that perfect cup of campfire coffee, and it organizes trips as well as stewardship events to help customers experience the transformational power of nature.
Runners-up: Take A Hike Shop, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bike Stop Outpost
Hall of Fame: Alpine Shop (Kirkwood)

Best Rock Climbing Gym
Winner: Upper Limits (St. Louis)
Picture 10,000 square feet of climbing right in the heart of downtown St. Louis. Better yet, drop in at Upper Limits next to Union Station and see if for yourself. At 35 feet tall, the main climbing area features slabs, aretes, roofs, dihedrals, cracks, and two massive arches. The loft climbing area is 20 feet tall and a great place for beginners to start. This area can also be rented by groups for private functions. Three bouldering areas, locker rooms, and a pro shop round out the amenities. Classes and programs are available for every age and type of group, including birthday parties.
Runners-up: Climb So iLL (St. Louis), Climb So iLL (St. Charles), Upper Limits (Maryland Heights)

Best Paddling Operator
Winner: Big Muddy Adventures
BMA, as it’s known for short, has been committed to helping St. Louisans experience its big rivers since 2002 — back when most locals’ idea of canoeing was the ubiquitous “float trip” on an Ozark stream. More than merely guided paddles on the Missouri and Mississippi, BMA goes above and beyond with themed overnight expeditions; day trips exploring different parts of the rivers; custom outings; and monthly Full Moon Floats that feature gourmet campfire food cooked by a roster of guest chefs. The company also offers youth programs during which kids develop skills and confidence while learning about ecology and environmental stewardship.
Runners-up: Bass’ River Resort, Paddle Stop New Haven, Huzzah Valley Resort

Best Fly-Fishing Outfitter
Winner: Feather-Craft Fly Fishing
This unassuming store in Brentwood, Missouri, embodies hundreds of years of fly-fishing experience, starting with second-generation owner Bob Story and extending to his 20 employees, all avid anglers. Feather-Craft was founded in 1955 by Bob’s father, Ed, who wanted to create a relaxing space where customers could hone their skills or just hang out between fishing trips. Today, the shop offers free fly-tying demos, free rigging (fresh and saltwater), and free casting lessons (beginner through advanced) in its six-position yard. What’s not free: the premium selection of rods, reels, lines, flies, apparel, and accessories.
Runners-up:  Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Alpine Shop
Hall of Fame: T. Hargrove Fly Fishing

Best Outdoor Program/Summer Camp
Winner: St. Louis Mountain Bike Camps
This repeat winner had one goal in mind when it started back in 2014: to make St. Louis a better place to grow up by getting more kids on bikes and enjoying the outdoors. “Our amazing team of instructors and their dedication to providing quality camp experiences, they’re the driving force of our success,” said founder Mike Flieg. Current programs include the popular Castlewood Summer Camp, Five-Day Overnight Adventure Camp, Eureka Mountain Bike Park Skills Camp, Destination Camps, and Small Custom Camps. There’s also a Development Team for those kids “striving to be the best riders they can be”.
Runners-up: Wheels Up, Missouri River Academy, Camp Taum Sauk

Trailnet Ride the Rivers Century

Trailnet’s Ride the Rivers Century is a popular annual event.

Best Outdoor Nonprofit Organization
Winner: Trailnet
Some people know this 32-year-old institution as the force behind bicycling events like Ride the Rivers Century or Bottleneck Bridge Ride. And this is true. Yet as much as Trailnet staff and its members like to have fun, there’s also a serious side to their work: advocating for safer biking and walking amenities in St. Louis. Over the years, Trailnet has given us Grant’s Trail, Riverfront Trail, and pedestrian paths across the refurbished Eads Bridge and Chain of Rocks Bridge. Today, the nonprofit is advancing its Connecting St. Louis master plan, a vision to transform our city by connecting neighborhoods, cultural districts, and business centers with safe transportation options for all. We can’t wait to see the result.
Runners-up: Gateway to the Great Outdoors, Gateway Off-Road Cyclists, Great Rivers Greenway


Readers’ Choice Hall of Fame

The Terrain Readers’ Choice Hall of Fame recognizes those who have won their respective categories for three consecutive years. Being inducted solidifies each vote-getter’s place as a perennial favorite in the Midwest outdoors and allows us to shine a light on other worthy people, places, and businesses.

Forest Park
Best Regional Park (County/City)
Previously voted the top city park in the country by the readers of USA Today, this 1,326-acre midtown oasis is a St. Louis treasure. With an astounding, all-purpose landscape of woods, lakes, streams, trails, playscapes, and green spaces, Forest Park invites leisurely walks and intense workouts, quiet picnics and action-packed outdoor events. It’s also home to numerous sports facilities and five major cultural institutions, as well as access to canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding on the 22.5-acre Post-Dispatch Lake via Boathouse Paddle Co.

Castlewood State Park
Best Regional Park (National/State)
In the early 1900s, it was a resort getaway for St. Louis city dwellers. Today, Castlewood State Park in Ballwin still draws big crowds, though most are more interested in outdoor recreation than sneaking a drink at one of the old (and long gone) speakeasys. The park boasts 26+ miles of trails for hiking, running, mountain biking, and equestrian use, some of which rise high above the Meramec River on bluffs that offer an expansive view of the surrounding valley. Bring a lunch basket: the park has picnic sites, reservable shelters, a sand beach, and a playground for the kids.

Bluff View/Zombie Trail
Best Mountain Biking Trail
This 12-mile round-trip route weaves among timbered hills and ravines on both sides of paved Rock Hollow Trail in Wildwood. Its highlights include a scenic overlook, several creek crossings, trickling waterfalls — one that you ride behind in a cave-like hollow — and gnarly rock formations scattered along the undulating single-track. A variety of switchbacks, jumps, and small drops demonstrate why this trail has a become the go-to for local thrill-seekers. You can thank Gateway Off-Road Cyclists (GORC) for the hard work in building and maintaining Bluff View/Zombie.

Jackson Falls
Best Rock Climbing Area
Tucked in the Shawnee National Forest near the town of Simpson, Jackson Falls offers the most climbing routes in Illinois, and arguably the best. There are roughly 60 climbing areas along the sandstone bluffs here, each with multiple named routes on them (over 500 in all). Many ascend to 50+ feet high and range in difficulty from 5.6 to 5.13. Sport routes predominate, though there are some traditional routes and a few areas suitable for setting up a top rope. Excellent bouldering opportunities also exist, with the whole area sitting in a lovely glen with hike-in approaches and free camping.

Bentonville, Arkansas
Best Road Trip/Outdoor Town
Hands-down the best mountain biking destination in the Midwest. The key is trail access and relevancy — a fast-growing network of single-track with something for everyone to ride, much of it linking to greenways that take you right to the town square. Here, you can sample the diverse culinary scene, tour historic buildings, and visit world-class institutions like Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Nearby communities Eureka Springs, Fayetteville, and Hot Springs offer even more miles of trails, as well as entry to the Upper Buffalo Wilderness and Ozark National Forest.

Alpine Shop (Kirkwood)
Best Outdoor Store
Founded as a small climbing shop in 1973, Alpine Shop has grown into St. Louis’ leading independent resource for outdoor sports of all types. Its Kirkwood location offers new gear and apparel for backpacking, camping, kayaking, canoeing, and rock climbing — plus a full-service bike shop and ski/snowboard shop (including rentals) and a certified pedorthist with the ability to do custom footwear fitting and modification on site. The store has a full schedule of events, including an off-road race series, and supports area organizations dedicated to the preservation of and access to our wild places.

Big River Running Company (West County)
Best Running Store
West County was the original Big River location, opened in 2006, and became a true flagship for the company in 2017 when it moved down the street to a large, free-standing building. The store features a 10- by 5-foot pixel screen for watching films and other programs, a cutting-edge Fit Center with treadmills and automated gait analysis, and beautiful fitting rooms and sculpted shoe walls. Big River offers free group runs, training teams, and clinics; hosts a series of popular races; collects and donates shoes for the less fortunate; and supports local charities through its Big River Gives Back program.

T. Hargrove Fly Fishing
Best Fly Fishing Store
From the potbelly stove in the middle of the room to the card table covered with fly-tying vices and spools of thread to the ever-present anglers trading tall tales, this is the kind of shop you might expect to find in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, but it just happens to be in Brentwood. Notwithstanding the mountain town ambiance, it’s the staff that customers point to as the main attraction: friendly, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. The store offers casting and fly-tying classes and stocks an array of rods, flies, books, and accessories for the novice and expert angler alike.

Author: Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine.
Lead Image: Eureka Mountain Bike Park by Alex Noguera.