coloradobikemaps

Maps + routes for the Colorado cyclist

Bryant Street Loop

Bryant Street LoopIn the dark days of the year, when the days are short and there’s not enough light to ride before or after work, I frequently ride at mid-day, over lunch for an hour or so. The rides are not very complicated. They take about an hour to complete. And they are geographically diverse so that I don’t get that stuck in a rut feeling where I’m always going to Washington Park or out to the Cherry Creek Reservoir and back, like some mindless lemming with no itch for new places and sights. They are also useful as easy recovery rides. These short loops include the Stock Show Loop, which takes you mostly north and slightly east of downtown, the Eisenhower Park Loop (south and east) and the Bible Park Loop (east and south). Bryant Street takes you south and west.

Most of what you need to know is on the maps themselves. But a few words are probably helpful.

Bryant Street Loop features my favorite short hill in metro Denver, between Dartmouth and Bates, two blocks of sheer steepness that flirt with the mid-teens in grade. Were the hill longer, the neighborhood would be overrun with Lycra. There are a few other, smaller hills, too, on Zuni Street as well. If they catch your attention, check out the Hill Junky Circuit. I’ve suggested riding this loop clockwise for two reasons. It makes the Mississippi stretch more manageable (a longish downhill run instead of a slow slog uphill) and it makes the navigation to Washington St (the one-way southbound that parallels Emerson St) a lot easier. But if you’re persistent enough, you’ll figure out how to make it work. The sketchiest part of the ride is between Platte River Dr and Broadway on Mississippi. The road is rough. There’s a gloomy underpass. And sometimes the traffic is intense. Don’t let these factors throw you off. Either time your entrance into the tunnel so the bulk of the traffic has passed, or find and use a sidewalk on the north side of Mississippi for a relatively safe passage through. Don’t miss the sheer bliss of the bike lane northbound on Emerson St. It is a great alternative to Washington Park.

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May 31, 2013 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , | Leave a comment

Metro Loop de Loops

Metro Denver has a goodly number of fine roads that run east and west (think Dartmouth Ave, Montview Blvd, 26th Ave, and 46th Ave just to name a few) but not nearly enough that run north and south. I’m not sure why this is so and I speculate about it endlessly as I flog my way north and south, interrupted by stoplights, stop signs, hospitals, and golf courses. I’m being slightly hyperbolic. Tennyson St, Zuni St, and Lowell Blvd are good in stretches. Holly St is OK. Sable Blvd in Aurora works OK if traffic intensity is light. Further west Rooney Rd and Johnson Rd connect to create a really good stretch of climbing heaven. That dearth of good north south routes was the genesis of the Metro Loop de Loops ride. Garrison St on the west runs mostly uninterrupted from US 285 (Hampden Ave) to 26th Ave, much of it with a dedicated bike lane. It totals about 7 miles if you include the stretch of Estes St between Morrison Rd and US 285. The east side of this loop is a little more cobbled together: the “standard” route through Washington Park to Dartmouth Ave and then to Clarkson St. The beauties of this loop are many. You’ll use portions of five of the metro area trail systems (Cherry Creek, Clear Creek, South Platte River, Big Dry Creek, and Bear Creek). You’ll pass through or near multiple parks and golf courses. You’ll ride by at least five big lakes and reservoirs. Add in two KOM segments at Berry Ave and Tennyson St and you’ve got all the makings of a classic metro loop.

The route finding is pretty straightforward with maybe three tricky spots at Bowles Ave, in Wheatridge, and then in sneaking across 38th Ave to return to Confluence Park. These are all places you are likely to return to at some point in your cycling life so you may as well figure them out now. I’m including a couple of detailed maps to help you if this is your first time. If you’ve ridden some of CBM’s other routes, you’ll recognize this as a conglomerate of several other routes. The description below is for a clockwise ride, which I like for the short climbing segments on Berry Ave and Tennyson St. Switch them around in your head if you want to go the other way.

Start in Confluence Park. Head upstream along the Cherry Creek Trail to exit at Downing and make your way through Washington Park. Exit the park at Franklin St and work your way south and slightly west to Clarkson St. Ride Clarkson all the way south to Sunset Lane (3 miles) and watch for the Big Dry Creek signs. Jog over to Washington St and Powers Ave and you’ll soon be flying down the Big Dry Creek Trail to join the S Platte Trail, about 2.5 miles. Go south about 1.5 miles and exit at a roundabout immediately before Bowles Ave. Look for the big white tennis bubble as your landmark. Skirt the bubble to the south to gain the sidewalk of Bowles. Cross Federal Blvd (carefully!) on the sidewalk and ride west (still on the Bowles Ave sidewalk) to a narrow fence opening onto Julian St. Home free. Ride north on Julian St to Berry Ave. Go west. The first KOM segment begins at Lowell Blvd. and climbs 5-6 blocks steeply.

Ride through the Bow Mar area skirting Bowles and Marston Reservoirs on roads of your choice (there are several options, all good) or just stay on Bow Mar Drive to connect to Sheridan Blvd. Take note of but ignore the signs at the entrance to Bow Mar that say there’s no exit. They are liars. Ride out of Bow Mar on Sheridan to Quincy and turn east. Both Sheridan and Quincy are fine for riding a bike. At the Lowell Blvd traffic light go south (left) through a narrow opening in the chain link fence. If it is your first time, use caution: cars are not really expecting you to make a left turn here. Ride south on Lowell Blvd past Fort Logan, CMHI, and Mullen School. Just past Mullen, look for the Bear Creek Trail at grade on your left. Get on it and go. This used to be a nasty section of trail but has been considerably improved in the last year (2011) and now makes for some OK riding. (If you want more climbing, stay on Lowell north to Dartmouth Ave and ride it west until it joins the Bear Creek Trail at Webster St.) Ride the trail west to Estes Park, about 3.8 miles. Exit the trail to the north, across Bear Creek on a bridge. There’s no signage, so if it is your first time, watch your odometer: about one mile from Webster St where the trail crosses Bear Creek. Estes Park makes a fine snack/refuel/pit stop. There are restrooms located in the middle of the parking lot.

Ride north on Estes St and Garrison St. As you cross Morrison Rd look for the sidewalk+path on your right. Take it and ride up the hill to Baltic Ave. I don’t usually strongly recommend a sidewalk, but I make an exception here. The short stretch between Morrison Rd and Baltic is scary-narrow with little room for recovery from another’s inattention. Southbound riders have a good bike lane.  Ride north until you reach 26th Ave. The bike lane disappears in a couple of places but heads up riding is all it takes to stay safe along this fine stretch of urban riding. Between Colfax Ave and 20th Ave follow the path of least resistance through a series of Scottish themed streets. At 26th Ave ride west. Cross Kipling St. Go north on Paramount, Twilight and Hillside to reach 32nd Ave. Alternatively, you can easily ride one of the many trails through Crown Hill Park to reach 32nd Ave. At 32nd Ave access Holland St, 37th Ave, and Independence St to make your way north to the Clear Creek Trail.

Ride northeast on Clear Creek Trail. This is probably the nicest stretch of Trail, good shade cover from the many large cottonwood trees, proximity to the creek itself, and little of the urban industrial blight that plagues the stretch between Tennyson St and and the confluence with the S. Platte River. It is about 4.3 miles to the at grade intersection with Tennyson St. with all of it on the trail except for a two block stretch between 51st and 52nd Aves at Gray St. Follow the signs northerly (or southerly if you’re coming the other direction) and you’ll be fine.

Ride south on Tennyson St, jogging west and south at 52nd Ave to gain the high ground next to Willis Case Golf Course. This is the other short KOM segment. Ride south to 46th Ave. Turn east and ride to Lipan St. Go south to 37th Ave, east to Inca St and south to a short spur of trail that disappears under the bulk of the I-25 overpass looming in front of you. Follow the spur to Rockmont Dr and Platte St (the one turns into the other at Cuernavaca Park). Platte Street returns you to 15th St and Confluence Park. If you’re smart, though, you’ll stop at the Denver Beer Company for a pint to celebrate.

Link to PDF.

July 20, 2012 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bible Park Loop

In the dark days of the year, when the days are short and there’s not enough light to ride before or after work, I frequently ride at mid-day, over lunch for an hour or so. The rides are not very complicated. They take about an hour to complete. And they are geographically diverse so that I don’t get that stuck in a rut feeling where I’m always going to Washington Park or out to the Cherry Creek Reservoir and back, like some mindless lemming with no itch for new places and sights. These are also useful as easy recovery rides. These short loops include the Stock Show Loop, which takes you mostly north and slightly east of downtown, the Bryant Street Loop, which takes you south and west and the Eisenhower Park Loop (south and east). Bible Park, above, takes you east and south.

Most of what you need to know is on the maps themselves. But a few words are probably helpful. Bible Park has a great short, steep hill on Forest St from Leetsdale to Alameda Ave. You can always shorten the loop by returning from Cook Park on the Cherry Creek Trail. Bible Park upgraded the trail around the outside of the park to cement in 2012. It’s great, but will encourage you to perhaps ride faster than some pedestrians would like. With the new sidewalks in Cheesman Park suddenly off limits to cyclists, it probably makes sense to save our time trial intervals for somewhere else.

 

March 21, 2012 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , | Leave a comment

Meridian-Inverness Loop

As much as I like riding in the Front Range foothills and Colorado mountains, there are days when I’m too beat or don’t have enough time to drive anywhere, yet still want a long, quality ride. It’s not impossible, you just have to work a bit. The Meridian Inverness Loop perfectly fits the bill. A similar but shorter loop, “Dove Valley,” was featured in Great Road Rides Denver. At 46 miles, the MI Loop is just as good for a leisurely ride as it is for a weekend hammerfest, with a one lap crit thrown in for good measure at Meridian. If you don’t know your local history, both Inverness and Meridian are business parks built around golf courses, which makes them perfect places for cyclists after work and on the weekends. And if you don’t want to be bothered with the ride to get out there, there are Light Rail stops at both Dry Creek and County Line Roads that provide easy access to the good stuff. This is a good weekend ride, when business and commuting traffic is at its lowest. But during the week, the business park roads get busy and you’ll want to be riding with a heads up attitude.

Begin in central Denver. Head south through Washington Park and jog west to Clarkson and south to Quincy Ave. Go east almost 3.5 miles along Quincy Ave through Cherry Hills Village. This is a good stretch of riding, with a long uphill pull from University Blvd to Happy Canyon Rd. If the traffic is heavy, there’s an OK (if sometimes thorny) path to the south you can use. At Happy Canyon head southeast then south to Monaco St, which in turns connects you to Union Blvd, your ticket through the Denver Tech Center. Climb out of the Tech Center, pass Cherry Creek High School and head south at the Dam Rd light to Dayton Street. Stay on Dayton heading south to Orchard Rd. Go left here to reach Havana St, then south to cross Arapahoe Road. One of my Great Road Rides correspondents hates the intersection of Havana and Arapahoe Rd for all the heavy traffic, but I won’t have a better solution until there’s a bike lane all the way south on Dayton. So for now, at least, cross Arapahoe carefully, then get off it immediately after the light with a left (west) on Costilla Ave. The fun begins.

Work your way south and west along Costilla and Fulton Street, then use Clinton St to cross Dry Creek Rd. Work your way south on Inverness Dr W and Inverness Parkway to reach Valley Highway, which is the link between Inverness and Meridian. Use this detailed map if you find the constant road name changes confusing. And don’t sweat the name: Valley Highway is not a highway at all–presumably it is just to honor the historic name for for the first portion of I-25 through central Denver to be completed (1950). Pass under E-470. Follow Valley Hwy in a long S-turn to connect, via Jamaica St, with Meridian Blvd. Make a lap or two. There are only two stop lights to slow you down. When you’re ready, exit Meridian and return the way you came along Jamaica and Valley. Bear right after E-470 on Liberty Blvd to connect to Inverness Dr S, which will take you along the southeast side of the Inverness development and then connect to Inverness Dr E. You’ll know you are on the right path if you can look to the right and see the west side of Centenntial Airport–the jets taking off and landing should be a good landmark. Skirt the airport on the north and east using Easter Ave and Peoria St. You’ll know to turn when you see a giant white bubble to the north. Cruise south on Peoria and the east along Bronco Pkwy, where new road construction has added a dedicated and sometimes welcome bike lane. A few good rollers bring you to Jordan Rd. Go left for now. Although the Cherry Creek Trail is just east of the Jordan Rd and Bronco Pkwy junction, there’s still a link missing at Arapahoe Rd. After crossing Arapahoe Rd, you can either ride a short stretch of dirt road to enter Cherry Creek State Park, or follow the signs east on Caley Ave to connect to Cherry Creek Trail. Follow Jordan Rd or the trail to the main Park Rd. Use it to circle the east side of the Park. Exit the park at the east end of the Cherry Creek Dam Rd, using caution at the intersection. Follow the Cherry Creek Trail back to Denver. you’ll fly home–it’s slightly downhill the whole way.

Link to pdf.

October 2, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MLK, Jr Loop


This 20-miler loops through some of the best and most interesting parts of Denver, including Washington Park, downtown Denver, Curtis Park, Stapleton, Park Hill, and City Park. You can ride it in either direction and long stretches of the streets featured have striped bike lanes. Martin Luther King, Jr Blvd was just re-striped for cycling in 2010, so get out there and show the city that you’re grateful for their work! This is a good ride anytime of day. The traffic intensity is highest during commuting hours, and lowest on the weekends. The mix of trails, streets, and protected riding is a good one for he would-be urban cyclist.

The route is largely self-explanatory, but a few places need some detail. The stretch between Central Parkway on Stapleton and 32nd Ave/Quebec St is not striped for bicycles and cars there tend to be more focused on their cornering technique than on obstacles like bicycles, so use a little extra caution. With three lanes, there is plenty of room to maneuver. Between York St and 32nd St, the bike lane is intermittent. The stretch between 32nd St and the Cherry Creek Trail is slow (Stop Signs abound) but the character of the neighborhoods and people (especially through downtown) more than makes up for the lack of speed. Transitioning from the streets to the Cherry Creek Trail and vice-versa is easy once you figure out where to turn. From the Trail to Lawrence, turn left from the Trail just past Lawrence. Head upstream (SE) on the sidewalk briefly to join Lawrence at Speer. From Champa St, cross over Cherry Creek then turn right (NW) on the sidewalk along Speer Blvd SE (against traffic) a short ways to rejoin the Trail. The down ramp here that joins the Trail is a blind and sometimes dangerous intersection. Use care.

MLK Jr Loop

April 13, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crawford Gulch Loop & Mountain Base Loop

Between highway 93 in Golden and Colorado 119 (Peak to Peak Highway) lies some of the best hill riding Colorado has to offer. The standard route in most guidebooks is a simple out and back from Golden, or more specifically from the intersection of highway 93 and Golden Gate Canyon Rd. And its a good route, with 3 long climbs of 6.7, 3.6, and 5 miles. The second climb, though the shortest, steepens to almost 14% as it nears the top. This also marks the line between Jefferson and Gilpin counties. The return is mostly a long descent, with two short but steep climbs to slow you down. Traffic intensity can be high on Golden Gate Rd and CO 46. The road traverses eastern Gilpin and western Jefferson counties and is a major east-wet connector as well as the primary access to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. On a busy weekend, make it a point to get out early to avoid the crush. If you don’t start in town, park on Golden Gate Rd just west of the Highway 93 junction. If you need quick refueling, there’s a 7-11 at 93 and Washington St, just before the turn off to park.

My favorite alternative to the standard out and back is the Crawford Gulch Loop, with or without an additional 14 miles along the Mountain Base Loop. As an aside, this chunk of road between Golden Gate Canyon Rd and the Park Visitor Center is sometimes also known as Drew Hill Road or Ralston Creek Rd. Crawford Gulch Rd, which spurs off at mile 4, takes you away from the traffic on Golden Gate Rd in favor of superb views to the east and north, and includes a 4 mile jaunt along the remote, southeast edge of the Golden Gate State Park. The steeps are significant: the maximum ascent logs in at 12% and there is a challenging descent on dirt at 19%.

Climb gently and then sharply for 9 miles along Golden Gate Rd and Crawford Gulch Rd, which breaks away to the north at mile 4. A short, steep descent at mile 6 provides some relief. At mile 8, pavement yields to macadam and dirt, but it should present no great trouble to the careful rider. Descend 1.5 miles on dirt to enter Golden Gate State Park, where the pavement resumes. This is the most technically difficult stretch, at an average of 9%, with many portions approaching 20% slope. Shift your hips well back, ride slowly, and use your front brake at least as much as your back brake to take you safely to the wooded road along Ralston Creek. Begin a moderate, 4 mile climb mostly through the park. Look left through the willows, just before rejoining Golden Gate Rd for the Golden Gate State Park Visitor Center, open 8-5, where you will find shelter, water, bathrooms, and pay parking for your car. This is a good place to park if you want to avoid the crush of traffic sometimes found on Golden Gate Rd, if you want to ride the Mountain Base Loop, through the park, or to access the Peak to Peak Highway. Unless you are headed further west or retracing your path along Drew Hill Road, head east along Golden Gate Rd to return home. Two significant but relatively short climbs await you. The first is 1.5 miles long and saves it steepest sections (12.5%) for the last 200 yards. After a blazing 4 mile descent, you’ll climb again, 1 mile, up a winding canyon wall. A final 7 mile descent will bring you back to the parking area at CO 93 and Golden Gate Rd.

The recommended direction on the Crawford Gulch Loop is counterclockwise: the 1.5 mile ascent out of Ralston Creek on a steep dirt road has bruised many a fragile cycling ego. It is remote back there–carry adequate tubes, air, water, and food.

Mountain Base Loop

Not for the faint of heart, this route begins from the Golden Gate State Park visitor center and can be ridden as a short loop or as a challenging addition to Crawford Gulch or Central City loops. Ride it counterclockwise if you really love steep climbs, clockwise if you want your elevation gain spaced out over a longer distance. Start either way from the Golden Gate State Park Visitor Center, open 8-5, near the intersection of CO 46 and Crawford Gulch Rd. Be sure to call ahead early season if you’re hoping to ride Mountain Base: sometimes it does not open until mid-April or later. There’s pay parking here and restrooms if you need them, but nothing in the way of food or refreshments. You’ll have a short warm-up from the visitor center to the turnoff to Mountain Base Rd. As you approach, ominous signs will warn you of the folly of your task. “Beware,” they say, “19% grade ahead.” Press on. A couple of big rollers will help you warm up further before the main event: .8 miles averaging 11% with a maximum that comes close to 20%. The good news is that the views west and east will distract you and there’s not a lot of traffic to contend with on this narrow road. At Gap Rd go left and ride for 1 mile on good, firm dirt to CO 119, a/k/a the Peak-to-Peak Highway. It will loop you back around to CO 46 and has a good shoulder the whole way. The descent back to the visitor center is fast and curvy.

 

Crawford Gulch Loop

April 5, 2011 Posted by | Genesee + Golden + Golden Gate | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

David’s Loop

This southwestern loop is approachable from multiple directions and covers a huge range of terrain and scenery, from the gritty stretch along Dartmouth to the meticulously maintained lawns of Cherry Hills. You can start it from Washington Park (shown), from the Highlands (Lowell and Irving St), from southwest Denver (Dartmouth Ave), from the south (Platte River Trail) and from the southeast (Quincy Ave).  As shown, the route begins with a 5-6 mile warm-up from Washington Park, then heads west along Dartmouth where you’ll encounter your first climb. Make a small detour at Bryant St if you want to intensify the climbing. After passing Loretto Heights, go south to the steep hill at Berry Ave, passing through a bike/peds only gate on Lowell at Quincy. Loop Bow Mar and find Julian St to take you south to Bowles Ave. A bit of cycling legerdemain will take you you east from Julian along a sidewalk and bike path to the Platte River Trail. This is the only slightly tricky part of the route: Where Julian seemingly angles sharply west look for a sneaky left through a fence onto a sidewalk. It will lead you along Bowles, across Federal Blvd and to the Platte. From there, head north to Dry Creek Trail then east, gradually uphill through a series of interconnected parks to the Highline Canal Trail,  a short bit of very good dirt that brings you to Franklin St. Pay attention as Dry Creek Trail ends. Ride north on Washington, east on Sunset Ct, and follow the brown and white signs to the Highline. The trip north on Franklin takes you through the very large and sometimes quite beautiful homes of Greenwood and Cherry Hills Village. The street is ultra-quiet an shaded. A short stint west on Quincy then another north on Clarkson through the medical district returns you to Dartmouth.

Cautions: Avoid the intersection of Dartmouth and Santa Fe. Use the bike trail that begins at Inca St to dodge around to the S. Platte. The intersection of Knox Ct and Hampden Ave is not always cyclist-friendly if no cars are going in your direction. Use the pedestrian crossing if you need to. Crossing Belleview at Franklin St can be challenging, depending on the  time of day.

PDF Version here

March 8, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bow Mar Triangle

This route is a crowd-pleaser. Remember the old jingle about Sara Lee? “Everybody doesn’t like something, but nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.” That’s a phrase that Don Draper could come up with. This route is Mad Men good. It is a longer variant of several shorter rides that are in Great Road Rides Denver combined to make a longer mash-up. There are stretches on good cycling roads like Dartmouth and Quincy, stretches on three different trail systems, and a long loop around Cherry Creek Reservoir. Were that not enough, there are also two sneaky moves through fences–surprise passages that appear like some deus ex machina to whisk you through a fence just when you think you’ve hit a dead end. And did I mention the three killer KOM sections? And, of course, there are multiple ways to shorten it if you hit by bad weather or just feel guilty that you are outside having so much fun.

Start it anywhere on the loop. For descriptive purposes I’ll assume you are beginning somewhere along the Cherry Creek Trail. Ride to Confluence Park. Follow the Platte Trail upriver (south) until you come to Dartmouth Ave. Some people prefer to get to the streets immediately and if you are one of those, you can jump onto Jason st around Habitat Park and ride it and Platte River St south to Dartmouth. It is probably faster to stay on the trail, but the view never really changes if you do. Head west on Dartmouth and climb up to the old Loretto Heights College campus, detouring (if you’re interested) at the Bryant St hill for the first KOM section. Circle the campus to the south using Irving St, Girard Ave, and Knox Ct to reach your southbound goal, Lowell Blvd. The school on the hill has had multiple names and identities in the last few years, too many to keep track of really, so I just keep calling it the old Loretto Heights College. By any name, the main building is worth a second look.

Cross Hampden Ave and keep riding south on Lowell Blvd with a detour at Oxford around the historic Fort Logan parade ground if you are interested. Otherwise exit through the fence at Lowell and Quincy Ave and keep riding south to Berry Ave. Go west for the second KOM section into the little burg of Bow Mar. Make a loop as you wish through the quiet roads taking in both the main reservoir (Marston) and the smaller Bowles reservoir where there’s a swim beach for the residents. (Don’t even think about taking your clothes off for a quick dip on a hot day.)

Ride east on Berry Ave to Jason Street. Go south a few blocks to where the street seems to dead end in a mandatory right turn. Sneak left here through an opening in the fence to gain a sidewalk next to Bowles Ave. Cross Federal Blvd at the light and continue east to the Platte River Trail. The access is a little obscure but you’ll get there if you aim for the white bubble building and bear right. Ride north on the trail to Big Dry Creek and cross the South Plate on the bridge to go east and south on the BDC Trail. It will dump you at Powers Ave and Washington St. Go north on Washington to Sunset and Clarkson St. Ride south on Clarkson to Quincy Ave. If you are running out of time, keep riding north no Clarkson to return to Denver, using Dartmouth and Franklin St, for example to return through Washington Park.

Ride Quincy Ave east to Monaco St, passing Cherry Hills Country Club and Kent Denver School along the way. The third KOM usually begins at Colorado Blvd and runs to Happy Canyon Rd. Go right to Monaco and ride to Union Blvd, then east through the Denver Tech Center to Cherry Creek Reservoir. Circumnavigate the reservoir or bypass it depending on your mood. Return to Denver on the Cherry Creek Trail.

Here’s a map of the Bow Mar section, the most likely spot where things can get confused. PDF link.

May 29, 2012 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , | 2 Comments