Yet another supplemental map. Chatfield Reservoir is a federal flood control project managed as a state park by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. It features all of the typical amenities you would expect at a large, urban state park and provides excellent cycling in and around the park. There is no way to loop around the park on trails alone, but it is possible to circle the reservoir and most of the park if you don’t mind some dirt and don’t mind walking down a steep section near the southeast corner of the reservoir. The best access is from one of several trails: C-470 (northwest), Cherry Creek Trail (north) and the Centennial Trail (northeast). There is also on street access from Wadsworth Blvd and from the Highlands Ranch Trails to the east. This access requires you to cross Santa Fe Blvd (US 83) and it is an entirely unprotected crossing without lights or pedestrian striping and is not recommended.
Presumably, there are plans to acquire an easement through the private property to extend the trail onward to Castlewood Canyon State Park.
Fortunately, if you exit the trail before the dead end, at Walker Rd, you can easily ride south on a surface street to the park. There are few navigational difficulties and a couple of interesting detours that are destinations in their own right, the Sulpher Gulch Loop in Parker, and the Pinery Loop. There is one section of dirt that I found to be in tough shape–deep mud, many ruts–there’s a viable work around on the streets between Scott Ave and Bayou Gulch Rd.
Elephant Rock is one of the oldest if not the oldest organized rides in the state. The 2012 date is June 3 and the ride takes in great hunks of eastern Douglas County including parts of the Black Forest area. The terrain is rolling eastern plains with (almost predictably strong) strong winds. Rides are available for almost any cyclists. There is a 7 mile family ride that circles the Douglas County Fair Grounds a couple of times, a 25 mile fat tire classic, and a 34, 60, and 100 mile ride. It all begins and ends at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, just off I-25 at exit 161, Plum Creek Parkway. Were that not enough, there’s also a marathon 24 hours of ERock mountain bike race on May 31-June 1 in the Greenland Open Space just south of Castle Rock.
This half-century ride begins and ends in Castle Rock and is famous in some circles for an invitation-only ride loosely organized by Bob Shaver of Shaver Sports Cyclewear. You could, of course, begin it anywhere and there’s easy parking next to Palmer Lake if you are coming from the south. The area is probably more well known for the Elephant Rock Ride which is celebrating its 25th year in 2012 and which features rides of 7 to 100 miles, some of which covers similar ground to the Wolf. The Wolf Loop takes its name from Wolfensberger Road, which runs roughly east-west from Colo 105 to I-25 climbing sharply in each direction. The Wolf hill is complemented by a slightly less steep hill leading into Palmer Lake on Spruce Mountain Rd. Options abound if you’re not interested in the full loop. Cutting across on Tomah Road makes a 22 mile loop, at Perry Park Avenue a 30 mile loop, and at Fox Farm Rd a 35 mile loop. No matter your choice of loop, anticipate rolling hills and strong winds–there’s little buffer in the way of topography or forest cover.
Traffic is generally light but know that Larkspur is home to the Renaissance Festival on weekends in June and July so expect congestion in the area. The other stretch that carries a lot of traffic is Wolfensberger Rd which sometimes feels like a demolition derby as harried denizens of the Perry Park area aggressively male their way to Castle Rock and I-25. Speed limits on many of the roads are 55 miles per hour and shoulders are limited. This should not dissuade you in the least from tackling any of these roads–a heads up attitude usually will suffice.
Route finding is straightforward. Ride west from the fairgrounds on Plum Creek Pkwy then south on the frontage road until it ends. Work your way through the Bear Dance area to Perry Park Ave, then ride east to Larkspur and Spruce Mountain Road. Ride south to Palmer Lake then turn north on Colo 105 to return to Wolfensberger Rd and hill. The only confusing part is as you make your way through the Bear Dance area south of Tomah Road. Here, a mishmash of small residential roads will try to confuse you so I’ve made a supplemental map to help you sort your way through. Even if you get off route, don’t despair. Keep moving south and east and you’ll eventually end up on Perry Park Ave. Much of the land you’ll be passing through is protected open space which makes for good riding but limited services. If you start in Castle Rock at the Fairgrounds on Plum Creek Parkway, you’ll usually find a porta-potty near the ballfields if the fairgrounds building is closed. Beyond that you’ll find convenience stores in Larkspur and Palmer Lake and a seasonal outhouse on the south side of the lake. For a real treat stop in at Rock House Ice Cream in Palmer Lake. It is just past the lake on Colo 105, is open seasonally, and has some of the best (read: “very high butterfat content!”) ice cream around.