coloradobikemaps

Maps + routes for the Colorado cyclist

Table Mountain Loop

This loop started out as a tour of independent espresso joints across the metro area. I mapped and then plotted how best to reach as many as I could in a single ride from central Denver. I started working on it in late 2011 and early 2012, when the days are short and frequently cold and when a nice cortado is exactly what you need to warm the inner cyclist. As the route developed and the days grew longer and warmer, I realized that Yelp! is probably a better resource for indie coffee than a static map and abandoned all the little blue coffee cups that dotted the first draft of this route. But the route is a good one, even without the coffee stops. Named for the twin mesas that rise above Golden to the east, this great loop complements similar routes in the other sectors of the city: Red Rocks Loop, Meridian-Inverness Loop, and Going to the Dogs Loop.

The route finding on this one is not particularly difficult in any one area, but there are enough turns and possibilities that you should take a copy of this map and the detailed zoom maps with you, unless you are already familiar with the territory. The basic route is 34 miles, but add in the Cherry Creek Trail, a loop through Golden or a loop on the trails up and around the Arvada Reservoir, and pretty soon you’ll be at a half-century.

The tricky parts happen in the Confluence Park area (getting from there to Lipan St), through Arvada (finding your way to Simms St from Grandview Ave), and around Golden (finding Clear Creek Trail and navigating a loop around the city). None of these should put you off your game. The text below assumes you’re starting this ride in Denver, but there’s no good reason you shouldn’t do the ride from Golden, Wheat Ridge, Arvada, or Lakewood.

From Confluence Park you have three options to ride to Lipan St, which in turn connects you to 46th Ave. You can ride north on the Platte River Trail to Cuernavaca Park, then find the trail spur that parallels the interstate and links up with 36th Ave and Inca St. Just remember to stay on the northwest bank of the Platte and you’ll come directly to Cuernavaca Park. Second, you can jump onto Platte St and ride it northeast to the same trail spur. These two options take you along the historic train tracks and gives some interesting views of graffiti as you pass under the interstate and a spectacular view of downtown. Once you’ve crossed under the interstate, work your way west to Lipan St.  

The third option is slightly more direct and gives you a narrow slice of the Lo-Hi neighborhood. Leave the Platte River Trail at 16th St. Cross Platte Ste and work your way up and over the interstate via the Highland Bridge, admiring the John McEnroe sculpture as you pass by. Turn right on Central St and ride it and its variants (Osage, 32nd, and Kalamath) to Lipan St. All three options are designed to get you to Lipan St and thence to 46th Ave and the Sunnyside neighborhood. Go west on 46th to Tennyson St, then follow Tennyson to the Clear Creek Trail. Look for the white suspension bridge ahead. You want to be on it. Follow the sign to Ralston Creek Trail and cross Clear Creek. Wind your way up Ralston Creek and exit at Lamar St, the sign for which periodically disappears. Left and up from the trail after 1/2 mile is about right. Ride south briefly from the intersection of 58th Ave on Lamar then go west on Grandview Ave, one of the great cycling streets in the area. It takes you through the sights and sounds of Olde Town Arvadaand works its way west roughly parallel to 58th Ave. Go west then north on Grandview as it bends around past the cemetery. At 57th Place and old Kipling there’s a very tricky chicane you should probably put foot down for or walk. Cross 58th on old Kipling at an unprotected intersection then ride north past Starbucks to 58th Place. Go west and cross Kipling Parkway, again at an unprotected and sometimes tricky intersection. That’s the hard work. Ride west (on 58th Pl) and north (on Miller St) to reach Allendale Dr which connects going west to Simms St. Ride Simms north to 72nd Ave and 72nd Ave west to the Arvada Reservoir where an optional loop awaits you. The loop begins just past Virgil St at an obvious trail spur to the right. Loop or no, you’ll end up back at Virgil and 64th Ave. Go east to Easley Rd, then south towards Golden. Along the way the mesas for which the route is named come into sharp focus. They’re big.

As you approach Golden, decide on a plan. You can ride an extra loop through the city or work your way back to Denver on 32nd, 26th or 20th Ave. All are well worn by cyclists, but traditionally cyclists have crowded onto 32nd Ave, my least favorite route. If you like it and it works for you, don’t sweat any of the details that follow. Just hop on the Clear Creek Trail (confusingly you ride west on 44th Ave to find a small spur to reach the CCT), go east to McIntyre St, south to 32nd Ave and back to Denver.

For a more interesting route, ride south on Mcintyre then east briefly on 32nd Ave to Kendrick St, where you’ll see the sign for the Rolling Hills Golf Course. Go south on Kendrick to where it bends west. Go east on Foothill Rd which climbs and winds its way back to Eldridge St. Go south to 20th Ave. Ride 20th Ave all the way back to Denver, jogging north or south at Sheridan to get around Sloan’s Lake. There’s one narrow spot on 20th Ave at Urban St where traffic calming medians have narrowed the street to barely a car’s width. Be sure to use the whole lane here.

PDF Link.

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April 12, 2012 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Red Rocks Loop

Looping through Red Rocks Park may be one of the finest rides in the metro area. The access is easy, the approaches have relatively low traffic intensity, and the climbing through Bear Creek Lake Park, through the red sandstone, through Dinosaur Ridge, and up over the I-70 hump is nothing short of sublime. This ride is adapted from Great Road Rides Denver, and for a full description of its beauties, you should go out and buy a copy of the book. Barring that, grab this map and go. Most of the route is pretty straightforward. I recommend riding clockwise, the better to enjoy the short, steep climbs that characterize this route. And then you can fly home along 20th or 26th Ave, something that’s much harder if you are riding east along the Bear Creek Trail.

A few options are shown here, depending on your mood, inclination, direction of travel, and taste for street riding as opposed to trails. Try them all when you have some time. The only typically confusing place is getting from 20th Ave to 10th Ave (or vice versa) in Golden. Follow this link to one of GRRD’s supplemental maps, The Golden Triangle, to help you sort out the many options available to you for getting through Golden. If the weather’s at all cooperative, however, the way to go is near NREL, Camp George West, and the the State Patrol Training Facility, using the cyclo-cross option to reach Isabell St.

Link to PDF version.

May 3, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Golden Triangle

This is one of the many supplemental maps found in Great Road Rides Denver. All are designed to help you navigate safely and precisely through some of the thornier parts of the metro region, such as the Dartmouth Dodge. Shown here are the major links to get you in and around Golden, including links to the Clear Creek Trail, the C-470 Trail, and Beverly Heights Park in Golden (from which you access Lookout Mountain and the Genesee Mountain Loop). Most of this is self-explanatory but a two areas warrant some detail: the start of the Clear Creek Trail, and skirting South Table Mountain to reach Illinois St, the Golden Trail, or Rooney Rd and the C-470 Trail. For Clear Creek Trail, ride east 1/2 block from the intersection of 10th and Ford. Just after you pass over a nasty looking, concrete drainage ditch, the trail breaks off sharply to the left (north). Another equally sharp, diagonal turn (to the right and east after two blocks) will put you safely on the trail. If you are coming from Red Rocks and Rooney Rd, make a right on Colfax Ave at the traffic light, then look immediately to the left for a concrete trail that sits in the western shadow of the C-470 overpass. Grab the trail to the intersection with 6th Ave. Go north on Johnson Rd, right on 10th Ave and follow 10th Ave all the way to McIntyre St. After Ulysses, you’ll be riding (legally) against traffic in a designated bike lane.

Go left on McIntyre, right on S. Golden Rd and ride easterly past Camp George West

and the DOC facility until you see the lighthouse that marks Candlelight Storage and Isabell St. If you’re not comfortable on skinny tires and narrow dirt trails, keep going and work your way through the shopping center and across Denver West Blvd to Denver West Parkway. Otherwise, go left at Isabell to the end of the street, follow the dirt path

alongside the irrigation ditch to the entrance to NREL,

and pop up going east on Denver West Pkwy just outside NREL.

Link to PDF.

May 3, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Crawford Gulch Loop & Mountain Base Loop

Between highway 93 in Golden and Colorado 119 (Peak to Peak Highway) lies some of the best hill riding Colorado has to offer. The standard route in most guidebooks is a simple out and back from Golden, or more specifically from the intersection of highway 93 and Golden Gate Canyon Rd. And its a good route, with 3 long climbs of 6.7, 3.6, and 5 miles. The second climb, though the shortest, steepens to almost 14% as it nears the top. This also marks the line between Jefferson and Gilpin counties. The return is mostly a long descent, with two short but steep climbs to slow you down. Traffic intensity can be high on Golden Gate Rd and CO 46. The road traverses eastern Gilpin and western Jefferson counties and is a major east-wet connector as well as the primary access to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. On a busy weekend, make it a point to get out early to avoid the crush. If you don’t start in town, park on Golden Gate Rd just west of the Highway 93 junction. If you need quick refueling, there’s a 7-11 at 93 and Washington St, just before the turn off to park.

My favorite alternative to the standard out and back is the Crawford Gulch Loop, with or without an additional 14 miles along the Mountain Base Loop. As an aside, this chunk of road between Golden Gate Canyon Rd and the Park Visitor Center is sometimes also known as Drew Hill Road or Ralston Creek Rd. Crawford Gulch Rd, which spurs off at mile 4, takes you away from the traffic on Golden Gate Rd in favor of superb views to the east and north, and includes a 4 mile jaunt along the remote, southeast edge of the Golden Gate State Park. The steeps are significant: the maximum ascent logs in at 12% and there is a challenging descent on dirt at 19%.

Climb gently and then sharply for 9 miles along Golden Gate Rd and Crawford Gulch Rd, which breaks away to the north at mile 4. A short, steep descent at mile 6 provides some relief. At mile 8, pavement yields to macadam and dirt, but it should present no great trouble to the careful rider. Descend 1.5 miles on dirt to enter Golden Gate State Park, where the pavement resumes. This is the most technically difficult stretch, at an average of 9%, with many portions approaching 20% slope. Shift your hips well back, ride slowly, and use your front brake at least as much as your back brake to take you safely to the wooded road along Ralston Creek. Begin a moderate, 4 mile climb mostly through the park. Look left through the willows, just before rejoining Golden Gate Rd for the Golden Gate State Park Visitor Center, open 8-5, where you will find shelter, water, bathrooms, and pay parking for your car. This is a good place to park if you want to avoid the crush of traffic sometimes found on Golden Gate Rd, if you want to ride the Mountain Base Loop, through the park, or to access the Peak to Peak Highway. Unless you are headed further west or retracing your path along Drew Hill Road, head east along Golden Gate Rd to return home. Two significant but relatively short climbs await you. The first is 1.5 miles long and saves it steepest sections (12.5%) for the last 200 yards. After a blazing 4 mile descent, you’ll climb again, 1 mile, up a winding canyon wall. A final 7 mile descent will bring you back to the parking area at CO 93 and Golden Gate Rd.

The recommended direction on the Crawford Gulch Loop is counterclockwise: the 1.5 mile ascent out of Ralston Creek on a steep dirt road has bruised many a fragile cycling ego. It is remote back there–carry adequate tubes, air, water, and food.

Mountain Base Loop

Not for the faint of heart, this route begins from the Golden Gate State Park visitor center and can be ridden as a short loop or as a challenging addition to Crawford Gulch or Central City loops. Ride it counterclockwise if you really love steep climbs, clockwise if you want your elevation gain spaced out over a longer distance. Start either way from the Golden Gate State Park Visitor Center, open 8-5, near the intersection of CO 46 and Crawford Gulch Rd. Be sure to call ahead early season if you’re hoping to ride Mountain Base: sometimes it does not open until mid-April or later. There’s pay parking here and restrooms if you need them, but nothing in the way of food or refreshments. You’ll have a short warm-up from the visitor center to the turnoff to Mountain Base Rd. As you approach, ominous signs will warn you of the folly of your task. “Beware,” they say, “19% grade ahead.” Press on. A couple of big rollers will help you warm up further before the main event: .8 miles averaging 11% with a maximum that comes close to 20%. The good news is that the views west and east will distract you and there’s not a lot of traffic to contend with on this narrow road. At Gap Rd go left and ride for 1 mile on good, firm dirt to CO 119, a/k/a the Peak-to-Peak Highway. It will loop you back around to CO 46 and has a good shoulder the whole way. The descent back to the visitor center is fast and curvy.

 

Crawford Gulch Loop

April 5, 2011 Posted by | Genesee + Golden + Golden Gate | , , , , , , | 3 Comments