coloradobikemaps

Maps + routes for the Colorado cyclist

Stock Show Loop

Sometime when all you have time for is something short and easy, a ride that allows you to spin the pedals easily and slowly, go check out the Stock Show Loop. Others in this category include the Bible Park Loop, the Bryant Street Loop, and the Eisenhower Park Loop. Start on the Cherry Creek Trail. Ride to Confluence Park, then north to and through the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) complex, lately in the news because a plan’s afoot to move the show to Aurora. The show–a sort of early 20th century cattleman’s convention–has been a Denver fixture for more than a century, attracting cowboys, ranchers, bulls, and livestock to Denver during the slow month of January. The rest of the time, the complex gets used for Alpaca, cat, martial art, and music shows, judging by a recent scan of the calendar. It was the recent host of the first inaugural Denver County Fair, a kind of post-modern, hipster county fair that featured a bike rode, chickens, baby goats, bees, a Goth-themed freak show, and drag queens vying for the Miss Denver County title.

Route finding to the NWSS area is relatively easy. Head down to Confluence Park, then make your way north along the Platte River Trail to 29th or 31st Street, where you can (and should) exit to Arkins Ct. Getting through Confluence Park can be confusing, as can getting from the river left side of the Platte to the river right side. I’ve shown here the simplest approach: stay on the Platte Trail as it wends its way under 15th Street, then exit left at the historic 19th Street Bridge to cross to the other side.

Exiting at 29th or 31st streets takes you away from river and the street people up to street level on Arkins Court, a surprisingly good and wide ride north to the NWSS grounds. If you need an espresso, dart across the river at 31st St to Fuel Cafe in the Taxi Development for a pick-me-up and look around. It’s a fascinating mixed use community. Follow Arkins Ct past the huge Pepsi bottling factory and through the vacant areas to the south of the Coliseum. From time to time you can get a whiff of the past as you ride through here (mostly from the Purina plant nearby), but all of the stockyards and packing plants of yore have long been closed, so you probably have to resort to the Denver Public Library to get a good sense of the original Denver Union Stockyards that lay to the northwest of the Coliseum, where 3-4 million head of livestock annually were sold and processed. Wind your way north around the Coliseum on Humboldt St to 47th Ave, then go east to York St, where a funny little jog will allow you to continue east to Clayton St. Duck under I-70 and work you way south and east to Steele St, avoiding the traffic on 40th Ave.

Steele is one of Denver’s surprisingly good cycling streets. It is wide and the traffic intensity is relatively low. Drop down to 26th Avenue and fly west alongside the City Park Golf Course across York St to Franklin St to work your way (slowly, most of the time) through the hospital district Ride through Cheesman Park, then the Country Club District to return to your starting place.

August 15, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Aurora Hills Loop

This loop ride is similar to the Cherry Creek-Heather Garden Loop that appeared in Great Road Rides Denver. When it was originally produced, I had not yet discovered Lima and Moline streets or Tollgate Creek as better options to ride north and south through Aurora. You can find those routes here and here. Although this route is probably outdated, I’ll leave it up for the curious–it is an interesting route north-south through a part of Aurora that sees very little traffic.

 

This one came about when a friend asked if there wasn’t a way to do the same ride without riding on Sable Blvd. Sable, in case you don’t know, can be quite busy and the bike lane there comes and goes randomly–usually when you most need it. I started scouting this one more than a year ago and finally think I have it right. The route finding is more than simple, and in a few places indistinct, but mostly if you keep moving north (or south if you’re going clockwise) you’ll be fine. Take this map the first few times you go, and all will be well. You can ride it both directions but it was made to ride counterclockwise to take advantage of the inbound leg on 13th Ave. I know that sounds a little crazy but 13th is a surprisingly good bike route, especially in the off hours. I’ve laid out the directions below assuming you’ll start at 1st Ave and University Blvd, but as with all good loops, you can start and finish this one anywhere. Oh, and the “hills” in the title are a misnomer. There’s a golf course and a subdivision called Aurora Hills, but there are no hills to get in your way. This is a flat and relatively fast route.

Head out the Cherry Creek Trail from 1st and University. After you pass under the I-225 bridge, climb east on the Park Trail and look for the underpass under I-225 and into the Nine Mile RTD station. Ride north to Parker Rd, then northeasterly, staying on the sidewalk and looping under the exit ramp from I-225 to the intersection of Parker Rd and Peoria St. This is a very high traffic intensity intersection, so use some heads up thinking when you cross Parker Rd, heading north on Peoria St. If you are coming from the north, beware the set of steps leading into the underpass–they are not well marked and easy to inadvertently ride down (I know, because I did). Ride two blocks, turn right on Cornell Ave and the fun begins. Cornell twists and turns east and north until it a three-way stop. Turn right on Ursula St and keep winding your way north to Yale. Cross Yale and find the sinuous trail that will take you all the way to Overland High School, just south of Jewell Ave. There’s a retirement community just to the east, so use a modicum of care for those with less mobility than you. Circumvent the school to reach the Jewell Wetlands. At the south side of the school, look for the diagonal road west of the school and east of the track field. It will take you northwest to Jewell. Use the street or the north sidewalk to go east to the wetlands, which you’ll see just past the school. Look for a trail running north along the wetland’s eastern edge. Take it. Bomb north to Uvalda St and keep going, crossing Mississippi Ave at the light. Go north to Kentucky Ave, right a block and north on Victor St to Alameda Ave. You’ll see the Queen of Peace Catholic Church on the corner as a cue. The route finding here is a little indistinct, but you want to cross Alameda at Xapary St, which is three blocks east of Victor. You can go north indiscriminately until you hit Nevada Ave and then east, or zigzag from Utah Pl north and east to Xapary. Cross Alameda into the parking lot of the Peace Mennonite Community Church. Go north and west through the lot to pick up a tree-lined trail along the west edge of the Aurora Hills Golf Course with great views to the west.

The trail connects to the Highline Canal Trail. Go east on the trail then north in two blocks to Ursula St. Ride north to 6th Place, then east to Vaughn St, where there’s a traffic light to cross 6th Ave. Pick any street starting with T, U, or V and go north to 13th Ave. Go west. Two way traffic persists on 13th until Yosemite Ave, then it is all one-way back into Denver. The street is wide, traffic generally light, there are few interruptions, and it is slightly downhill, all making for a fast and enjoyable ride home. Use 12th Ave if this seems intimidating. I usually cross Colorado Blvd on 13th, then detour south at Jackson to cruise along 12th Ave, back into Cheesman Park, then south again through the Country Club neighborhood to rejoin the Cherry Creek Trail at Gilpin St.

Link to PDF

June 6, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Dartmouth Dodge

Dartmouth Ave is one of the great cycling routes in metro Denver. The best of it stretches from I-25 to Wadsworth Blvd. Most of it is plenty wide for cyclists and sometimes there is a dedicated lane. It is tight at both Broadway and Santa Fe Dr. At Broadway there’s not much to be done, but Santa Fe has a decent workaround. Both the Hill Junky Circuit and David’s Loop pass through the Santa Fe Dr/Dartmouth Ave intersection. This is not a happy place to be. The light is long and the traffic intensity is high, which leads to multiple opportunities for left hooks, right hooks, and brush backs. Were that not enough, Dartmouth westbound narrows down from two lanes to one as you approach Platte River Dr, adding additional pressure on the unwary cyclist. It can be fun sometimes to try to time it exactly right, but most of the time the Dodge is a better alternative. From Denver look for the start of the trail at the Dartmouth + Inca St intersection. Use the turn lane. From the west, pick up the trail on Platte River Dr E, just south of Dartmouth and linking up with the bridge from the Platte River Trail.

Dartmouth Dodge PDF

March 10, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , | 1 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