Black Mountain Loop
The only wrong with this ride is that it is not closer to my house. I don’t know if I have enough superlatives in my vocabulary for this loop. The climbing is exceptionally varied. There are long, sustained climbs from Chatfield Reservoir, up Deer Creek Canyon or High Grade Road. There are ridiculously steep stretches (most mercifully short) along High Drive and Little Cub Drive that will make you check to see if you’re in your largest cog. And there is the climb for which the route is named, an 8.5 mile heart-breaker that gets steeper the higher you go. That’s only the climbing. You’ll pass through or nearby more than eight local and regional parks and one small section of the Arapahoe National Forest. Even outside these protected areas, you will mostly be traveling through forested areas. The views from High Drive, Black Mountain Drive, and High Grade Road are spectacular. The traffic is generally light. And there are places to refuel along the way, everything from the prosaic convenience store at US 285 and Highway 73 to the Evergreen Mountain Market and the Pleasant Park Grange. If you don’t pay too much attention to the names of the roads, the route-finding is straightforward. Confusingly, the same stretch of road bears three different names: Little Cub Drive, Stanley Park Road, and High Drive, for example. Or Brook Forest Rd, Black Mountain Drive, and Shadow Mountain Drive. Just stay on and follow the main roads, however, and you’ll do fine. Or ask one of the many cyclists you’ll encounter for help.
The logical place to start this ride from is the intersection of Platte Canyon Rd and Deer Creek Canyon Rd. There’s lots of room on both sides of the road, but no amenities. Or slightly further west, there’s a small lot at South Valley Park. Or you could shorten the loop slightly by driving up US 285 aways and starting near the North Turkey Creek/South Turkey Creek junction. To really enjoy the Black Mountain climb, ride counterclockwise. On the way up from Chatfield, you’ll pass the hamlet of Phillipsburg. Named for a late 19th century developer who hoped to profit from gold and mineral prospectors in the region, the town prospered briefly then completely faded away by 1930. Colorado’s most famous cannibal, Alferd Packer, lived and died here after his release from prison in 1905. A nine mile climb and a short descent brings you to South Turkey Creek Road. A fire station there makes a convenient regrouping place. Continue north to North Turkey Creek Rd. Reach it by passing under US 285 and then climb a short distance to High Drive. The steep climbing starts here and continues for four miles. Descend to Evergreen. The intersection with Highway 74 is sketchy. If you are going slow enough on the descent, you can avoid it with a sharp left near the bottom onto Camel Heights Road. Look for the Evergreen Mountain Market here to refuel and use a bathroom. Head up Highway 73 briefly, then go right on Brook Forest Road. If you can ignore the pain, this is a beautiful stretch of road that gets better the farther you ride. You’ll pass the historic Brook Forest Inn five miles after turning off Highway 73.
The climb finally tops out at 8,900 feet and there’s a fine descent back down to Highway 73. Go south on 73 and then east on Pleasant Park Road to complete your loop, climbing steeply one last time from 285. Stop at the Pleasant Park Grange for a Gatorade and a snack. There’s also a porta-potty. Proceeds benefit the historic grange.
When you’re ready for the 14 mile descent, head on down, back to Phillipsburg. From time to time, a Jefferson County Deputy parks at the intersection there, so look twice before you blow through the Stop Sign.
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