I am happy to announce the publication of my new bicycle map for the Denver Metro Region. With more than 600 miles of trails, 40 distinct trail systems, it’s color-coded so you can see if you’ll be on a paved surface (red), a dirt trail (brown) or a bike-friendly surface street (blue) to link different trail systems up. The front side is the metro region (Superior to Parker, Commerce City to Chatfield Reservoir) and the reverse side has 6 detailed maps of places you’ll want to ride, including the four main reservoirs (Chatfield, Cherry Creek, Aurora, and Bear Creek), the south end of the Cherry Creek Trail, and Horseshoe Park in Aurora. Waterproof and tear proof. Get ’em while they’re (and it’s still) hot, $12.95. Find it at Tattered Cover (all three stores), Evo-Edgeworks, Turin Bikes, Big Ring Cycles, and the Golden Bike Shop. The QR code on the map links you to a digital version you can use with your smartphone and the map app from Anveza Maps, $5.99. Happy Trails to all.
Metro 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.
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.