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.
This is a map to supplement the Major Metro Trails Map. It shows the area in and around Cherry Creek Reservoir and State Park, one of the busiest cycling destinations in the region. Go there just to ride around, or ride through it on your way to points south (Cherry Creek Trail), east (Piney Creek), or northeast (Spillway Trail).
Tollgate Creek is the major tributary of Sand Creek and drains (or at least used to before Cherry Creek and Aurora Reservoirs were built) the eastern plains between the two reservoirs. As close as it is to most urban cyclists, it sees little bicycle traffic. If the lack of use reflects uncertainty about how to link it up to make a loop, this map will help. The trail proper runs from the historic Delaney Farm in Aurora south to Iliff Ave. A branch of the trail heads southeast at Horseshoe Park and winds down to Quincy Ave with an optional tour on the Highline Canal further south to the Aurora Reservoir.
The route shown here is Denver-centric and takes advantage of Montview Blvd and the little-used but very quiet 25th Ave to reach Fitzsimmons Parkway. A bridge across Sand Creek spills you out on 30th Ave and then to Sable Blvd. Sable Blvd will carry you south to the junction with the Highline Canal (apprximately 2nd Ave). Sable Blvd between 30th Ave and the Highline Canal offers very good on-street cycling. There’s a jog at 6th Ave and a left turn back onto Sable, but it’s entirely manageable if you make the turn from the right (north) turn-lane of two. The intersection with, and turn onto, the Highline Canal Trail is not so friendly. First, a very narrow bike lane carries you up a hill to where the trail crosses Sable. Second, the concrete median has a diagonal cut in it for cyclists but it’s a hump, it’s narrow, and not easily accessible if there’s traffic behind you. Third, there’s no turn lane. So if you’re feeling pinched by traffic your first time through, stop to the right, in the bike lane. Wait for traffic to clear behind you and roll into the median slowly while you gauge the flow of northbound traffic. Once across you’re on a great stretch of the Highline Trail. It winds along the canal, passes by the Aurora city center and joins the Tollgate Trail at Alameda Ave. Exit right and up then immediately down to access Tollgate Trail. I’m always a little confused here because you leave a smooth gray concrete trail and connect to Tollgate on a rough, dusty looking stretch of pavement that hardly looks like a trail at all. Go south from here to smooth sailing on Tollgate Trail. At Mississippi Ave you surface, go east, then drop down again to creek level. At Mexico and Iliff Ave negotiate at-grade crossings with traffic lights. You’ll approach a triple trail junction just before Iliff. There’s little signage but the baseball field at Horseshoe Park will be your sign to turn west to cross the creek and then head south.
Follow the trail south through the sprawling Wheel and Olympic Parks to reach the Cherry Creek Reservoir Spillway Trail. Fine riding continues. Cross Chambers Rd at the light. Ride south. Just before reaching the reservoir be wary of high speed traffic at the Parker Rd and Hampden Ave interchange. There are traffic lights at both crossings and they are essential at rush hour. Enter Cherry Creek State Park and make choices about returning to where you start. Turn right for the direct route (along the Cherry Creek Trail) or left to circle the park or explore points beyond.
If you ride this in reverse order, the only caution is the turn from Fitzsimmons Parkway onto Peoria St to reach 25th Ave. It is uphill, there are only two lanes, and there can be high traffic intensity during rush hours. It is a short tenth of a mile but if you are feeling beleaguered, there’s a narrow sidewalk you can use.
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.
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.