coloradobikemaps

Maps + routes for the Colorado cyclist

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.

 

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

End of the Road Loop

As summer and fall give way to winter’s cold breath, it is time to start thinking about where you can ride when the days are short and the light comes in steeply slanted from the south. High Grade and most of the foothill rides are probably not great choices. It is cold in the depths of the canyons and the grit and sand that gives traction to cars in the winter plays havoc with our skinny tires. I got interested in the plains east of the city when I mapped the State Time Trial Championship route this year and discovered how much good riding there is east of DIA, out towards Bennett and Watkins. A chance post on 303cycling.com talked about the quiet, interesting roads north and east of Smith Road, way out past the County Jail, I-225, and even C-470. So thanks to Doug for opening up this whole new area to me. As mapped, this route starts at City Park in Denver and then makes a big loop out to and past Watkins. For those days when you don’t want to bite off quite that much, start out near the Sand Creek Greenway at Star K Ranch Morrison Nature Center. There’s convenient parking, shady trees, and toilets.

If you start in Denver, navigate out to Smith Road. Ride east on Montview to Yosemite St/Central Park Blvd. Go north, then east along Akron St and 22nd Ave to reach Beeler and 26th Ave. Further east you’ll deadend into Iola St which connects to Havana and then to Smith Rd. This map will show you the way if it’s your first time riding through Stapleton. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you pass the Denver County Jail and the state Diagnostic and Reception Center. The stretch of Smith Rd between Havana and Chambers Rd can feel busy–there are plenty of trucks and not much in the way of a shoulder. But things get better the further east you go. If you are coming from the south, Sable Blvd provides good access almost from the Cherry Creek Reservoir. The fun begins when you leave Smith Rd at Picadilly Rd. Go north then east to 26th Ave. Pretty quickly you’ll get the feel for the riding: lots of empty spaces with corn fields, sunflowers, large industrial operations, and a giant solar operation in the middle of a field.

Go as as far east you want or have time for. A few options are laid out in the map, but know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Go south at Hudson Rd and loop around through Watkins on Colfax Ave. There’s an exit from I-70 here and a truck stop if you need something, and plenty of evidence of hard times and failed dreams.

If you have a tolerance for somewtimes rough roads, keep going east to Manila Rd before turning north. Otherwise, turn north at Cavanaugh Rd and make your way towards Front Range Airport, DIA’s general aviation little brother. If you don’t make it to Manila Rd, do an out and back on 48th Ave, just for the sheer joy of riding along on a nearly deserted road on the edge of the historic short grass prairie.

To return from Front Range Airport, work your way north on Imboden Rd to 56th Ave and then turn west. It is hard not to be impressed and overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of all that stretches before you: acres of sunflowers, fallow farmland, the hustle and bustle of aircraft taking off  in short steep arcs and landing in long shallow ones, and in the far distance the Rocky Mountains, beckoning you home again.

Ride west. Depending on your mood or time of day, use Hudson, Monaghan or Picadilly Rd to drop back down to 26th Ave and Smith Road. Return to your starting place.

PDF Link

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , | 1 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

Stock Show Loop

Sometime when all you have time for is something short and easy, a ride that allows you to spin the pedals easily and slowly, go check out the Stock Show Loop. Others in this category include the Bible Park Loop, the Bryant Street Loop, and the Eisenhower Park Loop. Start on the Cherry Creek Trail. Ride to Confluence Park, then north to and through the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) complex, lately in the news because a plan’s afoot to move the show to Aurora. The show–a sort of early 20th century cattleman’s convention–has been a Denver fixture for more than a century, attracting cowboys, ranchers, bulls, and livestock to Denver during the slow month of January. The rest of the time, the complex gets used for Alpaca, cat, martial art, and music shows, judging by a recent scan of the calendar. It was the recent host of the first inaugural Denver County Fair, a kind of post-modern, hipster county fair that featured a bike rode, chickens, baby goats, bees, a Goth-themed freak show, and drag queens vying for the Miss Denver County title.

Route finding to the NWSS area is relatively easy. Head down to Confluence Park, then make your way north along the Platte River Trail to 29th or 31st Street, where you can (and should) exit to Arkins Ct. Getting through Confluence Park can be confusing, as can getting from the river left side of the Platte to the river right side. I’ve shown here the simplest approach: stay on the Platte Trail as it wends its way under 15th Street, then exit left at the historic 19th Street Bridge to cross to the other side.

Exiting at 29th or 31st streets takes you away from river and the street people up to street level on Arkins Court, a surprisingly good and wide ride north to the NWSS grounds. If you need an espresso, dart across the river at 31st St to Fuel Cafe in the Taxi Development for a pick-me-up and look around. It’s a fascinating mixed use community. Follow Arkins Ct past the huge Pepsi bottling factory and through the vacant areas to the south of the Coliseum. From time to time you can get a whiff of the past as you ride through here (mostly from the Purina plant nearby), but all of the stockyards and packing plants of yore have long been closed, so you probably have to resort to the Denver Public Library to get a good sense of the original Denver Union Stockyards that lay to the northwest of the Coliseum, where 3-4 million head of livestock annually were sold and processed. Wind your way north around the Coliseum on Humboldt St to 47th Ave, then go east to York St, where a funny little jog will allow you to continue east to Clayton St. Duck under I-70 and work you way south and east to Steele St, avoiding the traffic on 40th Ave.

Steele is one of Denver’s surprisingly good cycling streets. It is wide and the traffic intensity is relatively low. Drop down to 26th Avenue and fly west alongside the City Park Golf Course across York St to Franklin St to work your way (slowly, most of the time) through the hospital district Ride through Cheesman Park, then the Country Club District to return to your starting place.

August 15, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Aurora Hills Loop

This loop ride is similar to the Cherry Creek-Heather Garden Loop that appeared in Great Road Rides Denver. When it was originally produced, I had not yet discovered Lima and Moline streets or Tollgate Creek as better options to ride north and south through Aurora. You can find those routes here and here. Although this route is probably outdated, I’ll leave it up for the curious–it is an interesting route north-south through a part of Aurora that sees very little traffic.

 

This one came about when a friend asked if there wasn’t a way to do the same ride without riding on Sable Blvd. Sable, in case you don’t know, can be quite busy and the bike lane there comes and goes randomly–usually when you most need it. I started scouting this one more than a year ago and finally think I have it right. The route finding is more than simple, and in a few places indistinct, but mostly if you keep moving north (or south if you’re going clockwise) you’ll be fine. Take this map the first few times you go, and all will be well. You can ride it both directions but it was made to ride counterclockwise to take advantage of the inbound leg on 13th Ave. I know that sounds a little crazy but 13th is a surprisingly good bike route, especially in the off hours. I’ve laid out the directions below assuming you’ll start at 1st Ave and University Blvd, but as with all good loops, you can start and finish this one anywhere. Oh, and the “hills” in the title are a misnomer. There’s a golf course and a subdivision called Aurora Hills, but there are no hills to get in your way. This is a flat and relatively fast route.

Head out the Cherry Creek Trail from 1st and University. After you pass under the I-225 bridge, climb east on the Park Trail and look for the underpass under I-225 and into the Nine Mile RTD station. Ride north to Parker Rd, then northeasterly, staying on the sidewalk and looping under the exit ramp from I-225 to the intersection of Parker Rd and Peoria St. This is a very high traffic intensity intersection, so use some heads up thinking when you cross Parker Rd, heading north on Peoria St. If you are coming from the north, beware the set of steps leading into the underpass–they are not well marked and easy to inadvertently ride down (I know, because I did). Ride two blocks, turn right on Cornell Ave and the fun begins. Cornell twists and turns east and north until it a three-way stop. Turn right on Ursula St and keep winding your way north to Yale. Cross Yale and find the sinuous trail that will take you all the way to Overland High School, just south of Jewell Ave. There’s a retirement community just to the east, so use a modicum of care for those with less mobility than you. Circumvent the school to reach the Jewell Wetlands. At the south side of the school, look for the diagonal road west of the school and east of the track field. It will take you northwest to Jewell. Use the street or the north sidewalk to go east to the wetlands, which you’ll see just past the school. Look for a trail running north along the wetland’s eastern edge. Take it. Bomb north to Uvalda St and keep going, crossing Mississippi Ave at the light. Go north to Kentucky Ave, right a block and north on Victor St to Alameda Ave. You’ll see the Queen of Peace Catholic Church on the corner as a cue. The route finding here is a little indistinct, but you want to cross Alameda at Xapary St, which is three blocks east of Victor. You can go north indiscriminately until you hit Nevada Ave and then east, or zigzag from Utah Pl north and east to Xapary. Cross Alameda into the parking lot of the Peace Mennonite Community Church. Go north and west through the lot to pick up a tree-lined trail along the west edge of the Aurora Hills Golf Course with great views to the west.

The trail connects to the Highline Canal Trail. Go east on the trail then north in two blocks to Ursula St. Ride north to 6th Place, then east to Vaughn St, where there’s a traffic light to cross 6th Ave. Pick any street starting with T, U, or V and go north to 13th Ave. Go west. Two way traffic persists on 13th until Yosemite Ave, then it is all one-way back into Denver. The street is wide, traffic generally light, there are few interruptions, and it is slightly downhill, all making for a fast and enjoyable ride home. Use 12th Ave if this seems intimidating. I usually cross Colorado Blvd on 13th, then detour south at Jackson to cruise along 12th Ave, back into Cheesman Park, then south again through the Country Club neighborhood to rejoin the Cherry Creek Trail at Gilpin St.

Link to PDF

June 6, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Red Rocks Loop

Looping through Red Rocks Park may be one of the finest rides in the metro area. The access is easy, the approaches have relatively low traffic intensity, and the climbing through Bear Creek Lake Park, through the red sandstone, through Dinosaur Ridge, and up over the I-70 hump is nothing short of sublime. This ride is adapted from Great Road Rides Denver, and for a full description of its beauties, you should go out and buy a copy of the book. Barring that, grab this map and go. Most of the route is pretty straightforward. I recommend riding clockwise, the better to enjoy the short, steep climbs that characterize this route. And then you can fly home along 20th or 26th Ave, something that’s much harder if you are riding east along the Bear Creek Trail.

A few options are shown here, depending on your mood, inclination, direction of travel, and taste for street riding as opposed to trails. Try them all when you have some time. The only typically confusing place is getting from 20th Ave to 10th Ave (or vice versa) in Golden. Follow this link to one of GRRD’s supplemental maps, The Golden Triangle, to help you sort out the many options available to you for getting through Golden. If the weather’s at all cooperative, however, the way to go is near NREL, Camp George West, and the the State Patrol Training Facility, using the cyclo-cross option to reach Isabell St.

Link to PDF version.

May 3, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Golden Triangle

This is one of the many supplemental maps found in Great Road Rides Denver. All are designed to help you navigate safely and precisely through some of the thornier parts of the metro region, such as the Dartmouth Dodge. Shown here are the major links to get you in and around Golden, including links to the Clear Creek Trail, the C-470 Trail, and Beverly Heights Park in Golden (from which you access Lookout Mountain and the Genesee Mountain Loop). Most of this is self-explanatory but a two areas warrant some detail: the start of the Clear Creek Trail, and skirting South Table Mountain to reach Illinois St, the Golden Trail, or Rooney Rd and the C-470 Trail. For Clear Creek Trail, ride east 1/2 block from the intersection of 10th and Ford. Just after you pass over a nasty looking, concrete drainage ditch, the trail breaks off sharply to the left (north). Another equally sharp, diagonal turn (to the right and east after two blocks) will put you safely on the trail. If you are coming from Red Rocks and Rooney Rd, make a right on Colfax Ave at the traffic light, then look immediately to the left for a concrete trail that sits in the western shadow of the C-470 overpass. Grab the trail to the intersection with 6th Ave. Go north on Johnson Rd, right on 10th Ave and follow 10th Ave all the way to McIntyre St. After Ulysses, you’ll be riding (legally) against traffic in a designated bike lane.

Go left on McIntyre, right on S. Golden Rd and ride easterly past Camp George West

and the DOC facility until you see the lighthouse that marks Candlelight Storage and Isabell St. If you’re not comfortable on skinny tires and narrow dirt trails, keep going and work your way through the shopping center and across Denver West Blvd to Denver West Parkway. Otherwise, go left at Isabell to the end of the street, follow the dirt path

alongside the irrigation ditch to the entrance to NREL,

and pop up going east on Denver West Pkwy just outside NREL.

Link to PDF.

May 3, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Major Metro Trail Systems

Metro Major Trails 2013Metro Denver is blessed by miles and miles of dedicated, multi-use trails. Shown here, in a map revised and adapted from Great Road Rides Denver, are the major paved (mostly) trails systems in the metro area. I say “mostly” because a few sections shown here are neither concrete nor asphalt, like the quarter-mile section of dirt between the Platte River Trail and the Sand Creek Greenway. They are just plain dirt, crusher fines usually, but still easy enough to ride on. The trails shown here add up to more than 200 miles. Were you to add in the shorter stretches of dedicated trails, the many miles of unpaved trails, and the stretches of streets and roads with dedicated lanes, you would easily have more than 600 miles of roads and trails. If you are new to cycling or to the area, this is a good place to start. But don’t stop there, as so many do. On weekends, the trails are becoming more and more crowded and less and less friendly. This is especially true along Cherry Creek and south from Confluence Park along the Platte River Trail. So use them when you need to, but get out there and see the rest of the city. Ride the streets. Especially on the weekends, when there’s less traffic than during the commuting hours. Ride to Arvada or Golden or through Lakewood. See the Coors Beer operation up close and personal or wander on your bike through Crown Hill Park. Take in Loretto Heights or the urban hipness of the Highlands. Stretch on out to the farthest reaches of the city with a loop out to Bow Mar Lake. Wind around the perimeter of Stapleton or find the secluded copse of cottonwoods past the Anschutz Medical Center along Sand Creek. By my unofficial count, there are at least 25 distinct municipalities in the Denver region. Ride to or through each one of them. Buy the book if you’re not sure where to begin, or track down one of the free urban bike maps that are available. If you find yourself riding the same route day after day, decide today to go somewhere new. Get off the trails. Get out on the streets, and have some fun. And remember: Never let the anxiety of being lost, interfere with the enjoyment of not knowing where you are.

March 17, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Karen Hornbostel Time Trial Series

This is a current map of the route for the Karen Hornbostel Time Trial Series at Cherry Creek State Park. Sponsored by COBRAS Racing Club and the American Cycling Association, the KHMTT series is a fundraiser for both ACA and the Cancer Fitness Institute in memory of Karen Hornbostel, “a four-time master’s national road champion and recipient of the 2003 Lance Armstrong Spirit of Survivorship award.” The course begins at the edge of the Cherry Creek Reservoir, winds through the wetlands southeast of the reservoir, and crosses back and forth the small creeks that supply the water for the reservoir. Compared to the Bear Creek Time Trial Series held in the fall, this route is wide open. A small hill at mile 6 and a 1.5 mile uphill drag to the finish keep the heart rates high. The series runs for 7 Wednesdays starting mid-April and sells out every year within 24 hours.

KHMTT

March 16, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro, Race Courses | , , , | 1 Comment