Colorado Recreation & Outdoors
Cycling / Mtn Biking
ROAD BIKING IN COLORADO BRIEF OVERVIEW:
If you tell anyone that you are going to Colorado, the assumption is
that you are headed straight for the mountains. Usually, this is incorrect
as the State is covered with vast plains and quite a lot of terrain
for biking enthusiasts preferring flat riding. However, the Continental
Divide prominantly placed across the skyline of the state including
a multitude of 10,000+-foot peaks are most likely what's drawing you
in. Why should you be different from anyone else? The Colorado Rockies
are world renowned for their stunning beauty and rugged terrain, paved
or otherwise. Besides, for the more adventurous among us, Colorado offers
opportunities to tackle climbs of length and grade not often found elsewhere
in the United States.
There are simply too many options facing the bicycling enthusiast in
Colorado. It would take a lifetime in order to ride all the terrain
available in the state. In order to give a brief view of this massive
array of terrain we have chosen to break the fat knobby tire folks off
into their own section and treat the road warriors to one as well.
Here are a few locations that might suit you;
Rocky Mountain National Park
On the Road
If you like to climb, check out Bear Lake Road-this 20-mile out-and-back
ascends 1,500 feet in just eight miles. If that's not enough of a workout
for you, challenge your quads on one of the many hiking trails that
fork off the road.
Narrow, winding, and mostly uphill, Bear Lake Road takes you on a tour
of the park's most picturesque scenery: The road passes through Moraine
Park, flanked by mountains and glacial deposits, and it follows the
cascade of Glacier Creek among aspen, fir, and lodgepole pine trees.
The best views await you at Bear Lake, elevation 9,475 feet. Gaze upward
over Technicolor-blue lakes to the Continental Divide, where Hallett
Peak (12,713 feet) and Flattop Mountain (12,324 feet) rise among the
giants. Many peaks still bear glaciers, kin to the carvers of the region's
valleys and ridges.
Note: Since the road is narrow and the park is popular, get an early
start or go late in the day to avoid the heaviest traffic.
Peak to Peak Highway
The Peak to Peak Highway, located in the Arapaho National Forest, runs
55 miles from just west of Boulder to Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky
Mountain National Park. The road affords panoramic views of the mountains
and dramatic fall foliage colors, this highway glides through nature
as well as historic former mining communities with preserved period
architecture. The road's average elevation is greater than 9,000 feet
and will give the sea-level athlete a taste of the challenges of altitude.
The apparent high point of the ride is the town of Ward. Other landmarks
include Nederland to the south and Estes Park to the north. These also
constitute the lower points of the ride. This is one of those rides
you can do both directions, you are facing steep hills either way. The
other endpoint of the Peak to Peak Highway is close to Interstate 70
in Blackhawk. Remember that there is no bicycle traffic allowed on US6
west and therefore, Blackhawk
From Boulder, there are a couple ways to arrive. The savvy cyclist
gives a thought to following the farmland north of town rather than
the interstate like highway 36. Using mountain side roads in lieu of
Route 36, although it does have a wide shoulder, will make your trip
a bit more enjoyable. The mountain road directions are Lyons and then
heading west over to Estes Parksome over tough hills.
From Estes Park turn south on Route 7 and begin the climb up to what
makes the Peak to Peak what it is. If you want to cut your trip short,
head back to Boulder via Lyons on Route 7 or drop down to Pleasant Valley
and then climb up to Ward (a long 10+-mile hill). Onward to Nederland
and then out of the hills back to Boulder. Remember that cycling on
6W is not allowed, so if you go as far as the end of the Peak to Peak
(at Black Hawk), make sure you have a ride home.
There are plenty of ways to extend the scope of this route or to shorten
it, or even to ignore it completely and try other scenic routes in the
area. Make sure you get a good map and study the options. Knowing the
elevations will help!
MOUNTAIN BIKING IN COLORADO OVERVIEW:
Colorado is world renowned for its natural beauty and outdoor recreation.
Biking in a State Park, National Park or National Monument is an excellent
way to experience colorado. There are hundreds of paved and unpaved
roads suitable for tour bikes. Jeep roads, trails and single tracks
accommodate mountain bikes. Colorado bicycling provides access to some
of the most spectacular scenery in the state.
Description - Challenge yourself by going up a jeep road. Feel the adrenaline
rush as you speed down a single track dodging rocks and logs along the
Be prepared for cool evenings and hot days. Sunscreen is a must to protect
you from the intense sun, particularly at high elevations. Also be prepared
for afternoon thunderstorms and accompanying lightning which are a regular
occurrence in the mountains in July and August.
Carry lots of water as the climate is very dry. Be sure that someone
knows where you are.
Be extremely courteous to hikers, horseback riders and other bikers.
Yield to all foot and hoof traffic.
Attractions - Most of the state's mountain bike routes are located in
its vast public lands managed by the US Forest Service. The San Juan
in the South Western corner of the state offers excellent experiences
in the rugged San Juan Mountains. The nearby Rio Grande also offers
adventures in the San Juan Mountains as well as the Sangre de Cristo
Mountains. The massive Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison has numerous
trails in the San Juan and Elk Mountains as well as on the world's largest
mesa. The Pike and San Isabel has opportunities in the Sangre de Cristo,
Collegiate and southern Front Range mountains. The White River offers
experiences in the spectacular Elk and Gore ranges as well as the Flat
Tops region. The Arapaho and Roosevelt offers opportunities in the northern
Front Range mountains. Finally, the Routt has trails in the northern
part of the state.
Few states can boast the outdoor resources around the Denver metro area
alone. Chatfield and Cherry Creek state parks have it all -- reservoirs
for boating, sailing and fishing, horse rentals, sandy beaches, marinas
and miles of hiking and bicycling trails as well as diverse ecosystems
offering unique opportunities for resource education.
Mueller State Park offers visitors 12,000 acres of unspoiled open space
-- observe elk and the majestic bighorn sheep in their natural surroundings
as you explore 85 miles of trails. This area is popular for mountain
Rocky Mountain National Park
Losing your breath at high elevations is a small price to pay for breathtaking
scenery. On your next bike trip, explore the rarefied air of Colorado's
Rocky Mountain National Park, where you can get high on the Rockies
(of course), as well as 650 miles worth of the Continental Divide, and
the highest continually paved road in the United States, Trail Ridge
At least 60 mountains in the park exceed 12,000 feet-the football field-size
summit of Longs Peak is the highest at 14,255 feet-and more than 100
square miles of the park rise above timberline. Once you stop to survey
the glacier-carved scene of peaks and valleys, evergreens and wildflowers,
you'll forget all about the burning in your legs and lungs.
Hit the Trail
This next 30-mile loop lets mountain bikers combine the dizzying height
of Trail Ridge Road with the car-free joy of Old Fall River Road. From
September to July, Old Fall River Road is closed to cars, but not to
bikes-if the dirt and gravel are dry and clear of snow, you're good
to go. An autumn ride adds the bonus of fall color. Old Fall River Road
is a serious sustained climb at high elevation along a narrow, winding
road. The montane and subalpine trees that border the route give way
to Alpine tundra. You'll gain almost 3,600 feet over 11 miles before
you hit Fall River Pass (11,796 feet). The last few miles before the
turnaround point are great for spotting wildlife, such as elk, pikas
(small, rabbity creatures), and marmots. On the ride back via the pavement
of Trail Ridge Road, there's one last climb to make. Grind up to the
route's high point (Gore Range, 12,183 feet), check your brakes and
your helmet, then sit back and enjoy the ride.
We suggest: Be sure you're properly acclimated before tackling this