View Full Version : Bicycle trails around CO

04-08-2014, 11:29 PM
Back in the midwest, long bicycle trails had been created from old train routes ("rails to trails"). You could ride for a full day with minimal gear, stay the night in a Bed & Breakfast place, and then ride back the next day.

Anything like that here in CO? I'd like to do a 20-25 mile bike trip with the family.

04-09-2014, 12:04 AM
Well 20-25 miles is not all that far. Bike path from Breck/Frisco/Vail/Avon? Plenty of lodging opportunities available there.

Trail Ridge Road over Rocky? I think you could probably do something like that near Glenwood too.

I'm not aware of any rails to trails in CO. But I have fond memories of the Elroy Sparta trail in WI. http://www.elroy-sparta-trail.com An others, Wisconsin has done many of them.

04-09-2014, 12:06 AM
I think the Elroy-Sparta trail was the first one I ever did. Super fun, especially the tunnels.

04-09-2014, 07:31 AM
Is the technical level of the KATY what you're looking for? Also can you say if you're thinking of camping/lodging, etc. Is a 20~25 mile ride a long day or multiple days? Does it have to be close to Denver? I'm assuming something like the Colorado Trail is not what you have in mind.

General Resources:
American Cycling Association (lots of tours): http://www.adventurecycling.org/
American Discovery Trail (KATY is part of this): http://www.discoverytrail.org
Rails-to-Trails: http://www.traillink.com
Bicycle Colorado (good collection of urban bike maps): http://bicyclecolorado.org/

Things tend to be more sparse and spread out here and it's not easy to avoid secondary roads. If you're OK with pavement and unpaved USFS roads we have literally 1,000 miles of routes you can do credit card touring. We've done several days wandering around the dirt roads south of Bailey between Rampart Range and South Park and Woodland Park on cyclocross bikes with light camping supplies. There aren't a ton of abandoned railroad grades on the plains here, so all the 'rail-to-trails' tends to be old narrow gauge routes in the mountains. Like for example Boreas Pass between Breckenridge and Como in South Park or the road up Rollins Pass. Non-technical but definitely goes uphill.

If you want to hit a state park the Pueblo Lake S.P. has a ton of mild trails, probably 50 miles of wide gravel with very little climbing. In fact most of the state parks have non-technical riding, but Pueblo is the one that comes to mind with the most I know of.

The Santa Fe Trail between Lamar and La Junta is cool overnight. You hit a state park in the middle (John Martin), Las Animas and Bent's Old Fort. It's mostly riding on county roads, though, not a trail.

There is a 20 mile section of the New Santa Fe (so-called) that runs between Palmer Lake and the USAFA. This is all gravel, no vehicles and not steep. This links on the south terminus with the Pike's Peak Greenway, which runs I think to the Garden of the Gods and to Fountain. So that would be about 50 miles total I'd guess with the Springs in the middle.

This is part of the planned Front Range Trail: http://www.metrodenver.org/files/documents/living-here/recreation/Living_Rec_FrontRangeTrailPlan.pdf

This does not exist in any formal way, but several of the trails do exist. The Greenland Ranch Open Space, Waterton Canyon, C470 Path, Bear Creek Trail, Clear Creek Trail, Platte River Trail, Poudre River Trail, etc. There just isn't a single, coordinated 'trail' and most of it is paved recreational trails.

There is a paved trail now between Idaho Springs and Georgetown and Silver Plume and a nice one between Glenwood and Aspen: http://www.rfta.com/trailmap.pdf

04-09-2014, 08:13 AM
Lots of good input above. The metro area trail system is very extensive and could be just the ticket for a great for a family overnight experience. A couple of thoughts come to mind...

South on Holly to the C-470 Trail, head east to Cherry Creek Trail, head down stream to Denver. Catch a ball game in the evening, see a play or just hang out on the 16th street mall.

South on Holly to C-470 Trail, head west to South Platte, head down stream to Clear Creek, head west to Golden.

These rides are a tad longer than 20-25 miles and riding the trail system gives you a very different perspective than you get driving to these places. If you think about it, we didn't have the rail system out here that was in place back east, but we have rivers and creeks - which make for a great trail system.

If you are not a regular bike rider, whatever you end up doing, try to resist the urge to jump on the bike and go for 20 miles. While you can comfortably cover the distance in a couple of hours, you will feel it:D. Take a few evening rides so that your body can get used to bike. A nice evening loop close to home would be the Willow Creek trail to Highline Canal to Big Dry Creek - all easily accessed from your house. :thumb:

04-09-2014, 08:16 AM
Like Ricardo said - Platte River trail, you can have the spare room and I'll make you breakfast! :-)

Check out eth summit county trails or Glenwood Canyon

04-09-2014, 08:22 AM
The KATY is a really neat and somewhat unique trail. It's 235 miles from St. Charles (west of St. Louis) to Sedalia along a completely gravel railroad bed with no cars. It goes past Columbia and Jefferson City (the state capitol) and many old railroad station towns. You can camp in many places and the small towns provide B&Bs, hotels, food and all that stuff. The wine tours are fun, done that a couple of times way back when. So I understand Matt's comparison and we really don't have anything quite the same despite all the cycling we do have here.

04-09-2014, 01:01 PM
This is pretty much what you're looking for


a cool one is glenwood to aspen and back etc. quite a few choices really

04-09-2014, 01:56 PM
That's a nice, easy ride from downtown Aspen to Glenwood Springs, the Rio Grand Trail. It's all paved, following the old train route. Don't recall exact distance but it's gotta be around 45 miles total length. Also, there are additional routes that connect to the trail that hit Woody Creek and downtown Basalt, where I live.

04-09-2014, 03:09 PM
I like the new Santa Fe trail south of Palmer lake to monument - rode that a bunch as a kid and elephant rock is a neat sight

04-09-2014, 04:41 PM
I like the new Santa Fe trail south of Palmer lake to monument - rode that a bunch as a kid and elephant rock is a neat sight

I ride to work from Monument to Colorado Springs a several times a year on the Santa Fe Trail. Relatively easy and well maintained. Going back home can be challenging in a stiff head wind and gradual grade back up to Monument.

04-09-2014, 05:18 PM
Not Colorado, but only 5.5 hours away.


We did part of Mickelson Trail last summer with the whole family. It's a blast, especially the central and northern parts from Custer. There are water pumping stations along the trail, little towns to stop and camp (or B&B), and the elevations are manageable for even the whiniest of kids....

04-10-2014, 06:08 PM
Thanks, guys. These are some great ideas. :)

Caribou Sandstorm
04-15-2014, 01:58 PM
Matt this sounds like fun, we might have to do this sometime also.

I did a ride like this in highschool, Santa Barbara to San Diego on the old PCH highway. really fun, we camped along the way, carried everything on our bikes.