coloradobikemaps

Maps + routes for the Colorado cyclist

Copper Triangle

The Copper Triangle is an old favorite organized by Davis Phinney to benefit the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s. The 2013 date is August 3. Phinney is a celebrated Olympic and professional cyclist, and is married to Connie Carpenter, herself an Olympic speed skating and cycling medalist. Together they raised Taylor, the latest wunderkind on the professional cycling circuit. Davis Phinney was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2000 and has devoted his foundation life to raising funds for research and treatment of the disease ever since. These are good people in a hard fight so if you are looking for one organized alpine ride to do this year, the Copper Triangle is a great choice. It is short at 78 miles and the elevation gain (5,981) is doable with a moderate amount of training. After climbing from Copper Mountain up Fremont Pass to Leadville you ride downhill to Vail where you begin a long pull up the west side of Vail Pass, much the longer and steeper of the two sides. And even if you are not able to make it this year to the Triangle, add the route to your bucket list. It is a good one with simple logistics, relatively easy access to services if things go awry, and many options on starting points and direction. The smart money has you start in Vail. That allows you to get the hardest climb out of the way first and lets you finish in Vail with its relative wealth (compared to Copper Mountain) of restaurants and services.

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May 16, 2012 Posted by | I-70 Corridor, Organized Rides | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lizard Head Pass

I’m a huge fan of long climbs and have plumbed the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club’s database to see how all the climb’s in the state stack up. Most are memorable. The hard ones leave an indelible impression. Sometimes we remember the forest, sometimes the trees, sometimes the mountains, sometimes the monumental suffering. The database uses a complicated formula to assign a difficulty rating for each climb with Mt Evans the hardest (at 9.0) and Tennessee South the easiest (at .05). Somewhere in between falls Lizard Head Pass with ratings of 1.3 (north) and .9 (south). The pass connects Telluride to Rico and Dolores and is a good day’s ride as an out and back from Telluride to Rico. I used both sides as a training ride for the Mt Evans Hill Climb this summer, riding the top 3 miles on both sides several times in an effort (vain as it turned out) to get better acclimated at riding at altitude. At least I didn’t quit my day job. Here’s another view of the route against a topographic background. Lizard Head logistics are pretty straightforward: Start in Telluride, ride to the top of the pass or over to Rico. Return. If you’re staying in Telluride, you’ll likely ride out from town on the bike trail. From Mountain Village, jump on your bike and go. For everyone else, park near Society Turn (there’s a small area looking out across the Valley Floor, recently the subject of a bruising legal battle between developers and preservationists), or at one of the ski area lots. The ride starts out with a bang and a fair amount of tourist and construction traffic, but gets better quickly once past Mountain Village. The road’s narrow and the traffic indifferent to your joy or suffering, so use caution in the first few miles.

There’s lots to see as you go along, so even if you’re struggling with the altitude, you’ll be distracted. The area’s had a rich history

and the scenery is hard to beat, so stop whenever you start to feel the rapture coming on–it is probably just altitude sickness.

The Telluride side is a mix of climbing and descending, with a fabulous, swoopy descent down into the Ophir Valley, home of the incomparable and eponymous Needles. There’s much to marvel and wonder at here, not the least of which is how the Galloping Goose got its name. The last three miles of the climb rival the first three in steepness and intensity. At the top of the pass, you’ll find the usual Forest Service paraphernalia, a useful parking area, and outhouses with a great view.

You won’t be disappointed by the descent to or climb out of Rico if you go. It’s a long steady climb with half the traffic of the north side. Rico, too, has a long and rich history and if you like small towns (it swells to the mid-hundreds in the summer) you’ll love Rico.
There’s no fast food here, but if you’re looking for good food, check out the Argentine Grill at the Rico Hotel. A small convenience store, Mountain Top Fuel &  Market, will satisfy most of your other urges.

You don’t need much information to make your way back to Telluride. Just head back the way you came. There’s a short steep climb out of the Ophir Valley that will get your legs warmed up again. And the final descent down into Telluride warrants caution: the road is steep, the traffic heavy, and the surface has been beaten up badly. Some of it is so terrible that CDOT has posted signs warning motorcyclists to slow way down.

PDF Link

October 27, 2011 Posted by | SW Colorado | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rist Canyon Loop


Rist Canyon Loop easily makes my top 10 list of favorite loop rides along the Front Range. It is a perfect distance (42 miles), has a slew of both steep and interesting climbing, is surprisingly remote for being so close to Fort Collins, and the bulk of the route wanders through the Roosevelt National Forest or alongside (and looking down on) Horsetooth Reservoir. Were it closer to Denver and Boulder, it’d be overrun with cyclists, sort of like Deer Creek Canyon and Lookout Mountain are. As it is, during the week you’ll be pretty much on your own, with the FC crowd showing up on the weekends. The stretch along Horsetooth Reservoir makes a convenient loop for FC regulars and there’s an annualFort Collins Cycling Festival that usually includes some version of Rist Canyon in its line-up, as a long road race or as a shorter, hill climb.

There are multiple places you could start this loop along Horsetooth Reservoir or in Fort Collins (from where a convenient bike path winds it way along the Poudre River), but I’m a confirmed espresso junky so the hamlet of Bellvue is the only way to go. As you come in from I-25, Fort Collins, and Laporte, look for the Trout Rearing Hatchery sign and dirt parking lot just before Bellvue at the junction of Rist Canyon Rd and Route 23. Park there, suit up, and pedal 50 yards to the Bellvue Bean for a quick espresso jolt or a muffin and you’ll be set to go.

Head west through rolling farm land and just keep going. Soon the farm land disappears and you’ll be climbing through a tight canyon with evergreens pressing in on both sides. Periodically the trees peel back to reveal an old homestead, a dilapidated hay rake, or a small ranch nestled into the hillside. Views of the distant Mummy Range flit in and out of your vision. The climbing is pretty steady, with short breaks where the road levels off for a respite. After five miles or so the canyon walls fall back, and give you a better picture of where you are. The higher you go, the steeper it gets. Pause for a snack and a drink, and enjoy the view at the top.

Drop steeply to Stove Prairie Road. Go left, southeast to Masonville. The road falls out from underneath you for most of this stretch–sometimes steeply, sometimes gradually. The closer you get to Masonville (really not much more than a junction in the road) the less remote the ride feels. Press on. There’s still great riding ahead. Traffic will increase slightly here, bearing tourists and their toys to the reservoir. If you need water or a pit stop, look for the Larimer County Open Space Trailhead on your left, just after topping out of the climb from Masonville. There’s also a liquor store just past Shoreline Dr if you need something stronger. And even though you left Rist Canyon some 20 miles back, there’s still some climbing to do. The road tilts up in short, sharp, shocks three more times before you get back to Bellvue. None of these is very long, but they are steep, mostly in the 8% to 12% range and can be demoralizing if you’ve started to bonk.

The views east across Fort Collins and west across the reservoir more than make up for the minor pain you’ll feel. At the north end of the reservoir the road plunges down once more into the alfalfa fields south of Bellvue. Look for the historic grange as you pull back into town.

Rist Canyon Loop PDF

September 25, 2011 Posted by | Fort Collins, Race Courses | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Foxton Road Ride


Its no secret that I am a huge fan of loop rides. Every loop ride is like the old Certs commercial from the 60s and 70s: “Two, two, two rides in one!” There’s just that much more scenery to see and geography to cover that, given a choice, I always prefer a loop to an out and back. I regularly make an exception for the Foxton Ride. Part of it is nostalgia. In another life I kayaked with at least as much intensity as I cycle and have vivid memories of the N. Fork of the S. Platte at high water levels. Even without the nostalgia, though, this is a fabulous ride that combines two long steep rides into a compact package: 45 miles and 5,000 feet. Foxton Road plays a prominent role in the Deer Creek Challenge, billed as the toughest century ride in the United States at 106 miles and 13,000 vertical feet.If you are training for Ride the Rockies or any of the major one day rides like The Copper Triangle, Triple Bypass, or Mount Evans Hill Climb, this is a good place to check out your fitness.

Start near Chatfield Reservoir and State Park, either in it (if you have a Parks Pass) or at the junction of Platte Canyon Rd and Deer Creek Canyon Rd. Head up canyon. Turn left at the deserted and dusty Phillipsburg (the junction of S. Deer Creek and S. Deer Creek Canyon Rd) and climb on up to the Pleasant Park Grange, a long beautiful (and sometimes steep) climb of almost 14 miles. Gather your wits and grab a Gatorade at the Grange (in season, honor system) before heading a little further along Pleasant Park Rd to turn left at Broken Arrow Dr. Broken Arrow drops steeply and winds it’s way to Foxton Road. Go left. Enjoy the ride down to the river, about 8.5 miles of unencumbered cycling with little evidence of houses, cars, and other people. Since Foxton Rd is a spur between US 285 and the river, your fellow travelers tend to be fisher-folk, kayakers and rafters, mountain bikers, and the like. Pause at river’s edge and enjoy a bar and some water before retracing your steps. From Foxton Rd, turn right on Running Deer Rd to climb steeply back to Pleasant Park Rd again. Return down Pleasant Park Rd, High Grade and Deer Creek Canyon to your starting place.

Foxton Road Ride PDF.

June 28, 2011 Posted by | Deer Creek Canyon Area | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Le Tour des Trois Cols


A friend  told me about a route in Deer Creek that Jonathan Vaughters had named. I knew the route, but didn’t know Vaughters had beaten me to the punch. Vaughters is a Colorado wunderkind who raced with US Postal and Credit Agricole. He now manages Garmin-Cervelo. Among his many local credits are as the three-time champion of the Bob Cook Memorial Hill Climb. The dude was seriously fast back in the day. So I tracked the route down in an old 5280 post online from 2002, when Vaughters was back in Colorado pretending to be a regular human being. He calls it an “all-time leg breaker,” but I don’t know. Maybe if you start in Denver as he suggests, adding 40 miles along the Platte River and C-470 Trail. Either way, the loop is a good one, longer and more intense than the City View Loop, shorter and less painful than the Black Mountain Loop. With the Tour De France about to start, I thought a french titled route would be good. If you want to impress your friends on the next group ride, just say something in Gallic tones about La Grande Boucle and shrug expressively. If you stub out your Gitane and then dust them going up the first col, even better.

If you are merely mortal, start at the usual place, Platte Canyon Rd and Deer Creek Canyon Rd. Head uphill, ignoring the Siren Song of High Grade Road at Phillipsburg. Climb the first col (9 miles) then ride down to the junction of North and South Turkey Creek roads, passing turn-off to City View, but maybe stopping at the Inter-Canyon Fire Department station for a re-group (at the junction of South Deer Creek Canyon Road and South Turkey Creek Road). I know the names are confusing, but on the ground it becomes much clearer. There’s a burger and pizza place at the Turkey Creek roads junction near US 285, so look for it. Go left under US 285 and begin an easy climb up N. Turkey Creek Rd. Go right on High Drive, a little more than a mile past US 285. The steep climbing starts here and continues for 3+ miles to the second col. Drop down into Evergreen where you’ll find plenty of convenience stores at which to refuel and empty your tank. Cruise down Highway 74 to to the sleepier and funkier burg of Kittredge, famous (in my mind at least) as the long-time home of the Senator who would have been king but for some monkey business in 1988. Sic transit gloria.

Just east of town proper, turn south on Meyers Gulch Road. Start climbing the third col, definitely the shortest of the three. Cruise down Parmalee Gulch Road to US 285. Follow the signs (left) to Bailey, not Denver. Here you have a small dilemma: ride 1/3 mile on the shoulder of 285 then exit to S Turkey Creek Rd by crossing the highway, or stay on the shoulder for two miles back to the N Turkey Creek exit. If you cross 285 to regain S Turkey Creek Rd, you have the pleasure of riding through Tiny Town, which in my mind is always more interesting than flinching at traffic on 285. Both options lead you back to the fire station at the base of col one. Go left up S Deer Creek Canyon Rd. Climb the half mile back to the top, preferably in your big chain ring if you want to be taken seriously. Enjoy the long descent back down to your starting place.

PDF Link.

June 22, 2011 Posted by | Deer Creek Canyon Area | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Black Mountain Loop


The only wrong with this ride is that it is not closer to my house. I don’t know if I have enough superlatives in my vocabulary for this loop. The climbing is exceptionally varied. There are long, sustained climbs from Chatfield Reservoir, up Deer Creek Canyon or High Grade Road. There are ridiculously steep stretches (most mercifully short) along High Drive and Little Cub Drive that will make you check to see if you’re in your largest cog. And there is the climb for which the route is named, an 8.5 mile heart-breaker that gets steeper the higher you go. That’s only the climbing. You’ll pass through or nearby more than eight local and regional parks and one small section of the Arapahoe National Forest. Even outside these protected areas, you will mostly be traveling through forested areas. The views from High Drive, Black Mountain Drive, and High Grade Road are spectacular. The traffic is generally light. And there are places to refuel along the way, everything from the prosaic convenience store at US 285 and Highway 73 to the Evergreen Mountain Market and the Pleasant Park Grange. If you don’t pay too much attention to the names of the roads, the route-finding is straightforward. Confusingly, the same stretch of road bears three different names: Little Cub Drive, Stanley Park Road, and High Drive, for example. Or Brook Forest Rd, Black Mountain Drive, and Shadow Mountain Drive. Just stay on and follow the main roads, however, and you’ll do fine. Or ask one of the many cyclists you’ll encounter for help.

The logical place to start this ride from is the intersection of Platte Canyon Rd and Deer Creek Canyon Rd. There’s lots of room on both sides of the road, but no amenities. Or slightly further west, there’s a small lot at South Valley Park. Or you could shorten the loop slightly by driving up US 285 aways and starting near the North Turkey Creek/South Turkey Creek junction. To really enjoy the Black Mountain climb, ride counterclockwise. On the way up from Chatfield, you’ll pass the hamlet of Phillipsburg. Named for a late 19th century developer who hoped to profit from gold and mineral prospectors in the region, the town prospered briefly then completely faded away by 1930. Colorado’s most famous cannibal, Alferd Packer, lived and died here after his release from prison in 1905. A nine mile climb and a short descent brings you to South Turkey Creek Road. A fire station there makes a convenient regrouping place. Continue north to North Turkey Creek Rd. Reach it by passing under US 285 and then climb a short distance to High Drive. The steep climbing starts here and continues for four miles. Descend to Evergreen. The intersection with Highway 74 is sketchy. If you are going slow enough on the descent, you can avoid it with a sharp left near the bottom onto Camel Heights Road. Look for the Evergreen Mountain Market here to refuel and use a bathroom. Head up Highway 73 briefly, then go right on Brook Forest Road. If you can ignore the pain, this is a beautiful stretch of road that gets better the farther you ride. You’ll pass the historic Brook Forest Inn five miles after turning off Highway 73.

The climb finally tops out at 8,900 feet and there’s a fine descent back down to Highway 73. Go south on 73 and then east on Pleasant Park Road to complete your loop, climbing steeply one last time from 285. Stop at the Pleasant Park Grange for a Gatorade and a snack. There’s also a porta-potty. Proceeds benefit the historic grange.


When you’re ready for the 14 mile descent, head on down, back to Phillipsburg. From time to time, a Jefferson County Deputy parks at the intersection there, so look twice before you blow through the Stop Sign.

PDF Link.

June 18, 2011 Posted by | Deer Creek Canyon Area | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

St Mary’s Climb

There’s just no two ways about it: this is a pure, unadulterated climb. You start in Idaho Springs or at the foot of Fall River Rd and you climb for 10 miles until you reach the top and you turn around and come home. At the top there are no commercial attractions. No convenience stores. No espresso. Nada. But its a good climb, 10 or 12 miles and 2,700 feet, but even those stats don’t tell the whole truth, since like all good climbs St Mary’s starts off gently and builds to a couple of steep crescendos, where the slope jumps up into the high double digits.

Start in Idaho Springs, at the parking lot just beyond the Clear Creek Ranger Station on Chicago Creek Rd, or just off the Interstate in a small lot near exit 238. There’s water and restrooms at the Ranger Station, but they don’t want you to park long term there. Use the lot on the left just up the road to Mt. Evans. If you start in Idaho Springs, you’re required to ride on the Interstate shoulder for 2 miles and some find this objectionable. And don’t get fooled by the sweet looking frontage road on the south side of Clear Creek. The Stanley Rd looks like it should take you up river to Exit 238 but there’s no place to cross back over to the north bank until you get up into the Dumont area. If you’ve time at the end of your ride, however, cross over and ride a short ways up to admire the Stanley Mine, itself.

Fall River Rd is in pretty good shape and the views are fabulous. As you approach the top, you’ll be more or less surrounded by Alice, an unincorporated development of few homes but great hopes with a rich history of mining and skiing. St Mary’s Glacier Resort, whose remnants are still visible to your left as you top out, was an active ski area from the mid-30s to 1986. A recent dream to reopen it as a family-friendly area was dashed in 2010 when the Clear Creek Commissioners voted against it. On a busy weekend, you are likely to come across a number of people hiking into the glacier for some late- or early-season turns. At the end of the road is a small lake (Silver Lake), an even smaller condominium development, scattered houses, and still more tremendous views

to the north and west. It is a good spot for a bar and some water, before heading back down to Idaho Springs. Look to the Squaw Pass Loop description if you need some ideas on where to get a bite to eat in Idaho Springs.

Link to PDF.

May 17, 2011 Posted by | I-70 Corridor | , , , , | 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

City View Loop

I’m not sure that there’s a better short climbing loop in metro region than the City View Loop, especially if you ride it counterclockwise. The standard High Grade route is to start at Platte Canyon and Deer Creek Canyon Rd, then climb up to the Pleasant Park Grange and return. There’s nothing wrong with that route:  slightly more than 13 miles each way, 2,900 vertical feet, with a sustained climb (no rollers) of more than 11 miles. Plus, the Grange stocks an honor bar of Gatorade and similar drinks. You leave a buck or two in the box; clean up after yourself, and the funds go to the preservation of the historic (1907) grange. There’s also a handy porta-potty: and there’s not many of those around these parts.

When you’re ready for something more, make the full loop. Clockwise is harder on the initial climb (to the Grange), but easier through the City View section. Counterclockwise is easier on the initial climb (shorter, less steep) but extravagantly steep through the City View section. None of the steep sections last all that long (easy to say from here) and the views are fabulous and the residents friendly. Route finding is easier than it looks from the map through City View. Stay on the main road and you’ll be fine. Most of the other possibilities are obvious spurs, and you’ll be able to tell from the color, condition, or surface composition. If you need it, I’ve shown the road sequence (counterclockwise) on the map.

There can be heavy traffic on some stretches and in the past there’s been tensions between cyclists and motorists. Nonetheless, with the blessing of the Jefferson County Commissioners, the area hosted the first Deer Creek Challenge in 2010, a century with more than 12,000 vertical feet of climbing, the last of which was through City View. It’ll be back again, this year on August 21, 2011. Do your part to keep things calm. Ride single file when cars are approaching from behind. Stop at the Stop signs. Carry out any trash that does not make it into a trash can. Oh, and a word to the wise: there’s often a Deputy Sheriff parked near the side of the road near the abandoned hamlet of Phillipsburg, waiting for errant cyclists to ignore the stop sign at the junction.

Other useful details. Exit southbound from C-470 at Wadsworth Blvd to reach the starting point. Park at Chatfield Reservoir (if you have a pass) or on either side of Deer Creek Canyon Rd near the intersection with Platte Canyon. There’s lots of room here and a carnival-like scene prevails on nice days. Use caution as you exit your car (so you don’t door an on-coming cyclist) and watch out on your descent for cars making ill-timed U-turns without necessarily thinking through all of the consequences. Aside from the Grange, there are few opportunities for food and water along the way. In a pinch, you can continue past Oehlmann Rd (on Pleasant Park Rd) or past S Turkey Creek Rd (on S Deer Creek Canyon Rd) and you’ll reach US 285, a convenience store, or The Ranch Grill.

Link to PDF

April 20, 2011 Posted by | Deer Creek Canyon Area | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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