Genesee Mountain Loop
What do you do when you’re over Lookout Mountain, when you’re ready for more? Something longer, steeper, and harder. Lookout is the pre- and post-work standard for many in the Golden area and frequently they tack on a loop down to US 40 and and a steep ascent back up Paradise and Charros Roads to Lookout Mountain Rd. That makes it a respectable ride. But wait, there’s more. The Genesee Mountain Loop takes you up and over Lookout Mountain, skims by Mt Vernon Country Club, then climbs up behind Denver’s famous buffalo herd and tops out on Genesee Mountain at 8,235 feet with a short stretch of dirt. A bomber descent and a ticket up Paradise Rd finish things off.
There are multiple starting places for the Genesee Mountain Loop: in Golden or anywhere along the Golden Bike Trail (head to and then west on 19th St), at Beverly Heights Park (parking and Porta-Potties available), and even along I-70, between US 40 and the highway near exit 256, or even at the Hogback Park-n-Ride lots along the Hogback Ridge.On Sundays when things around the courthouse are not busy, I like to start there, usually parking near the Jefferson County Open Space building between Illinois St and 10th Ave on Jefferson County Parkway. I don’t know if its truly legal but nobody’s ever harassed me there. Starting from anywhere but Beverly Heights Park gives you some warm up time before you start climbing. The map here and following description assumes you’ll be starting from Golden or Beverly Heights Park.
The best (and worst) thing about the initial climb up to Lookout Mountain is the sheer amount of activity you’ll see in all directions. There are motos, scooters, hang gliders, long boarders, joggers, mountain bikers, hikers, dogs, roadside deer, pickup trucks, and small fast cars out practicing their handling skills. Get a drink at the top (you’re mostly surrounded by JeffCo open space) and move on. Head southwest briefly along Lookout Mountain Rd then go right on Colorow Rd to climb some more, up to the Nature Center and Boettcher Mansion. Loop back briefly to Lookout Mountain Rd, then leave it behind as you climb up Mt Vernon Rd. There’s some good steep stretches through here, together with hordes of tennis players and herds of elk. When you see the bright red barn in the distance you’ll have reached the top.
Drop sharply south to I-70, cross the highway, and go right at the T. Climb to Genesee Mountain through the pine forest. The road is narrow but there’s not a lot of traffic here. On early summer mornings there are usually more elk around than people. Admire the views from the top. Reverse direction. If you’ve got mechanical troubles or just need a pick-me-up, drop into Foothills Ski & Bike or the Buffalo Moon Coffee Shop, both just up the hill from Exit 254 near the Chart House. Fly down to I-70 and keep moving east along Genesee Trail Rd. This is one of the main arterials for the Genesee area but you’ll be going so fast that few cars will need or want to to pass you. Wind around and then slightly up to Genesee Vista Rd and finally to Genesee Ridge Rd. The Ridge Rd is a bomber descent. Frequently there’s a JeffCo sheriff lurking in the shadows just around the corner, but they are usually after bigger game than you.
Return to Golden by crossing I-70 and climbing sharply back to Lookout Mountain Rd on Paradise Rd. Most bikes (and cars) tend to follow the sign that says, “This way to Lookout Mountain.” It leads you quickly up via Charros Rd. But there’s a better way that avoids the narrow, cramped Charros Rd. Ignore the sign. Stay on Paradise Rd. Or jump onto Lamb Ln. Either way, you’ll get back to Lookout Mountain Rd and you avoid the traffic intensity found along Charros Rd. A short jaunt along Lookout Mountain Rd will bring you back to Buffalo Bill’s grave and the final descent back to Golden.
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