Maps + routes for the Colorado cyclist

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

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

Hill Junky Circuit

This is one of my favorite west side rides. The multiple hills keep it interesting. The traffic is generally light and friendly, and the sights and sounds entertaining. Multiple laps of the core rectangle are possible and you can stretch the ride out with excursions out to Garrison St in Lakewood. Stops signs, none of which come at really bad times in the climbs/descents, are the only real buzz killer, but weekend traffic is light enough that foot-on-the-ground stops are rarely necessary. The core of this route runs from the Denver Aquarium to the north and Bow Mar Lake in the south. In between, and along the way, are a multitude of hills. None are very long, a few are quite steep, and the route makes a fine training ride and offers a mid-winter alternative to Lookout Mountain and the standard foothill rides. From both east and west there are two easy approaches, along Dartmouth or 23rd Ave.  Many variations and extensions are possible, but I like to start in the north, work south along Irving then jog east to pick up Zuni St at Kentucky Ave. There are significant hills southbound between 13th and 6th Ave, as well as multiple hills along Zuni south of Huston Lake Park to Dartmouth. Don’t miss the short but very steep sections on Bryant St and a few miles later on Berry Ave, both of which jump up into the low to mid teens in slope. Sneak through a bikes/peds opening in the chain link fence at Lowell Blvd and Quincy. A short rolling stretch through the quiet Bow Mar neighborhood allows you to return along Berry and Lowell or exit north to Sheridan and Quincy Ave. Heading north, you’ll encounter another good climb from Hampden to Amherst Ave, along Lowell, Knox Ct, and Julian Way, all of which resolve into Irving St again. Finish the core climbs with short sprints between 2nd Ave and 6th Ave, and then again between 12th and 14th Ave.

Cautions: Between Julian St and Knox Ct, you’ll be on Colfax Ave in the turning lane for 1/2 block. It is a school zone, but it is still Colfax Ave. If you approach from the southeast along Dartmouth, avoid the intersection at Santa Fe Dr by using the bike trail to the south between Inca St and Platte River Dr. The intersection at Lowell Blvd and Hampden Ave can be difficult if no other cars are around to trigger a signals sequence friendly to cyclists. Use the pedestrian button if you need to.

Link to PDF version

March 7, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , | 2 Comments