Maps + routes for the Colorado cyclist

Grapevine Loop

The next time you find yourself bored with whatever your standard route is around the Lookout Mountain area, check out the Grapevine Loop. It’s got great aesthetics, challenging hills, serious remoteness for being so close to I-70, and bomber descents. Many variations are possible. I’ve shown it here the way I discovered it, as a counterclockwise loop from Golden. I have a slight preference for counterclockwise because it means you are descending Highway 74 and the Genesee roads (Trail and Ridge)–and I like that better than having cars whizzing by me while I’m plugging along at 10 mph uphill. But you’ll see lots of cyclists coming up 74 from Morrison en route to Kittredge and Evergreen, so it is not all bad to go clockwise. If you are in a hurry, skip Mt Vernon Rd and drop directly down to I-70 from Lookout Mountain Road via Charros or Paradise roads. Both will put you near Exit 256 and the beginning of Grapevine Rd. Another challenging option is to ride down to 74 then turn around and ride back up. There are definitely some steep spots, and the dirt road can be tricky, but there’s rarely much traffic and you can use the whole road if you need to. Finally, you can also skip the Shingle Creek and Lininger Loop section, especially if short, super-steep hills intimidate you.

Start this one in or near Golden. You can ride in from the east or drive out and find ample parking at Ulysses Park, Beverly Heights Park, or almost anywhere along Illinois St. On the weekends there’s also easy parking in and around the Jefferson County Justice Center Complex. Make your way up Lookout Mountain. For extra climbing points, take the optional detour up to the Nature Center before dropping back down to Lookout Mtn Rd. Ride along to Mt Vernon Rd, climbing steeply but briefly to the high point of the ride at 7,837 feet. The red barn is the conic marker here. Cross I-70 at Exit 254 and head down the frontage road, stopping if you’re inclined or in need at the espresso shop or bike store conveniently located here. It is around four miles to Grapevine Road, all of downhill save a short stretch linking Genesee Trail and Genesee Ridge roads. At the stop sign near exit 256 ride east. Grapevine Rd begins here. A swooping right turn brings you to Shingle Creek Rd. Go right for some extra climbing, go straight to stay with Grapevine. If you head up the Lininger Loop, know that clockwise is steeper than counter-clockwise. This is a pretty remote part of the development, so respect the residents’ privacy by neither clustering loudly at the top of the Loop nor leaving your trash behind. Return to Grapevine Rd and climb south.

Shortly after the Shingle Creek junction, Grapevine’s pavement begins to deteriorate and eventually turns into a full on dirt road. After the high point you’ll encounter a cattle guard, some interesting dirt switchbacks, and yet another cattle guard. Whatever else you might do on a cattle guard, don’t stop and try to put your foot down. Just keep going. And keep going straight! Admire the views in all directions. Two-thirds of the way down, the road becomes paved again. Follow it to Highway 74. Ride down to Morrison, about 3.5 miles. Look for Red Rocks entrance #3 just outside Morrison. Turn left. Climb sharply up to the south parking area of the amphitheater along Ship Rock Road. Jog around the amphitheater to Trading Post Road, then exit the park at Highway 93, crossing over to Alameda Parkway to climb up and over the car-free Dinosaur Ridge. After where you’ve been, this short climb is a piece of cake. Find Rooney Road on the east side of Dinosaur Ridge and head north, crossing I-70 (under it) and US 40 (at the traffic light), and locate  the bicycle trail that sits in the shadow of C-470 just after the junction of Rooney Rd and US 40. From the light look for the sidewalk on the north side of US 40. Cross 6th Avenue to reach Johnson Rd and make your way back to your parking place. With FasTracks construction in full bloom, the Golden Bike Trial between Johnson Rd and Jefferson County Parkway has been disrupted. Use the west sidewalk along Johnson Rd or ride directly on Johnson Rd.

PDF Link.

June 18, 2011 Posted by | Genesee + Golden + Golden Gate | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giro di Genesee

Once you’ve mastered Lookout Mountain, conquered the Nature Center and Mt Vernon Country Club, and overcome the final 1/2 mile dirt climb up Genesee Mountain, you’ll be ready for the Giro di Genesee, a 36 mile rollicking, frolicking, tour of the best that the Genesee area has to offer. The GG differs from the Genesee Mountain Loop in two important particulars. It adds a tremendous set of steep rollers in the quiet, far south of the development, along Foothills and Montane Drives, and for the climber within, it offers one of the best short steep climbs in the Front Range, the Lininger Loop.

Start somewhere in Golden, along Illinois St, at Ulysses Park, or even at Lookout Mountain itself. The possibilities and permutations of this ride are endless. Ride up Lookout, pass by the Nature Center, wave to the tennis players at Mt Vernon Country Club, and snort at the bison in Genesee Mountain Park as you climb to the top and enjoy the views to the west of Mt Evans.  From here, make a long descent along the Genesee Trail Rd and climb briefly to a high point on Genesee Vista Rd. If you’ve got mechanical troubles or just need a pick-me-up, drop into Foothills Ski & Bike or the Buffalo Moon Coffee Shop, both just up the hill from Exit 254 near the Chart House. Within the Genesee development, the route finding can be tricky, but only because the names are so similar: Genesee Trail Rd to Genesee Vista Rd to Foothills Dr N and S, to Montane Dr W and E and finally back to Genesee Ridge Rd. The trickiest turn for me in my earliest ventures here was from Genesee Vista Rd to Foothills Dr N–it comes up on you quickly on a fast, sweeping descent. If your spirits or your energy flag en route, there are a couple of shortcuts to relief: from G Trail Rd to G Ridge Rd (shown in red); from G Vista Rd to G Ridge Rd; and from Foothills Dr N back to G Vista Rd. The Foothills Dr and Montane Dr sections of the Giro face south and look down into the Bear Creek watershed–the views are spectacular.

A fast descent brings you to I-70 and exit 256. From here, choose to return to the Lookout Mountain area and Golden by riding up Paradise Rd (a better way than the traditional Paradise to Charros that all the cars take) or head out to the little-known Lininger Loop, best ridden clockwise to get the most out of the steep climbing found there. From the stop sign at exit 256 follow Grapevine Rd to Shingle Creek Rd, then Lininger Dr up and around to Winston and Hagler drives.

Link to PDF.

May 10, 2011 Posted by | Genesee + Golden + Golden Gate | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Genesee Mountain Loop

What do you do when you’re over Lookout Mountain, when you’re ready for more? Something longer, steeper, and harder. Lookout is the pre- and post-work standard for many in the Golden area and frequently they tack on a loop down to US 40 and and a steep ascent back up Paradise and Charros Roads to Lookout Mountain Rd. That makes it a respectable ride. But wait, there’s more. The Genesee Mountain Loop takes you up and over Lookout Mountain, skims by Mt Vernon Country Club, then climbs up behind Denver’s famous buffalo herd and tops out on Genesee Mountain at 8,235 feet with a short stretch of dirt. A bomber descent and a ticket up Paradise Rd finish things off.

There are multiple starting places for the Genesee Mountain Loop: in Golden or anywhere along the Golden Bike Trail (head to and then west on 19th St), at Beverly Heights Park (parking and Porta-Potties available), and even along I-70, between US 40 and the highway near exit 256, or even at the Hogback Park-n-Ride lots along the Hogback Ridge.On Sundays when things around the courthouse are not busy, I like to start there, usually parking near the Jefferson County Open Space building between Illinois St and 10th Ave on Jefferson County Parkway. I don’t know if its truly legal but nobody’s ever harassed me there. Starting from anywhere but Beverly Heights Park gives you some warm up time before you start climbing. The map here and following description assumes you’ll be starting from Golden or Beverly Heights Park.

The best (and worst) thing about the initial climb up to Lookout Mountain is the sheer amount of activity you’ll see in all directions. There are motos, scooters, hang gliders, long boarders, joggers, mountain bikers, hikers, dogs, roadside deer, pickup trucks, and small fast cars out practicing their handling skills. Get a drink at the top (you’re mostly surrounded by JeffCo open space) and move on. Head southwest briefly along Lookout Mountain Rd then go right on Colorow Rd to climb some more, up to the Nature Center and Boettcher Mansion. Loop back briefly to Lookout Mountain Rd, then leave it behind as you climb up Mt Vernon Rd. There’s some good steep stretches through here, together with hordes of tennis players and herds of elk. When you see the bright red barn in the distance you’ll have reached the top.

Drop sharply south to I-70, cross the highway, and go right at the T. Climb to Genesee Mountain through the pine forest. The road is narrow but there’s not a lot of traffic here. On early summer mornings there are usually more elk around than people. Admire the views from the top. Reverse direction. If you’ve got mechanical troubles or just need a pick-me-up, drop into Foothills Ski & Bike or the Buffalo Moon Coffee Shop, both just up the hill from Exit 254 near the Chart House. Fly down to I-70 and keep moving east along Genesee Trail Rd. This is one of the main arterials for the Genesee area but you’ll be going so fast that few cars will need or want to to pass you. Wind around and then slightly up to Genesee Vista Rd and finally to Genesee Ridge Rd. The Ridge Rd is a bomber descent. Frequently there’s a JeffCo sheriff lurking in the shadows just around the corner, but they are usually after bigger game than you.

Return to Golden by crossing I-70 and climbing sharply back to Lookout Mountain Rd on Paradise Rd. Most bikes (and cars) tend to follow the sign that says, “This way to Lookout Mountain.” It leads you quickly up via Charros Rd. But there’s a better way that avoids the narrow, cramped Charros Rd. Ignore the sign. Stay on Paradise Rd. Or jump onto Lamb Ln. Either way, you’ll get back to Lookout Mountain Rd and you avoid the traffic intensity found along Charros Rd. A short jaunt along Lookout Mountain Rd will bring you back to Buffalo Bill’s grave and the final descent back to Golden.

Genesee Mtn Loop

March 23, 2011 Posted by | Genesee + Golden + Golden Gate | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments