The abundance of non-technical urban gravel trails on this route are definitely a highlight. You'll use the Centennial Link Trail, Lee Gulch Trail, High Line Canal Trail, East/West Trail, Foothills Trail and the trails in Daniels Park- all of which are crushed gravel or easy single track.
There are some good challenging hills to climb, most notably the inclines that get up to the Highlands Point Lookout/Compass as well as the climb up to the top of Daniels Park. I suppose if climbing is not your thing, those hills might not be a "high" of your route, but the views from each of those places certainly would be.
Daniels Park is one of the main reasons to do this ride. "At 1,000 acres, Daniels Park is characterized by its unique sandstone ridge and spectacular view of the Front Range extending from Pikes Peak to the south, all the way to the Mummy Range near the Wyoming border. The park is within a larger regional open space system of 11,000 acres that protects the unique rim-rock landscape that stretches from Sedalia to Highlands Ranch. Daniels Park is also home to one of Denver’s bison herds which roams on prairie grasslands in the park’s upper elevations."
Although Foothills Trail is a great 4-mile long trail, its downfall is that it unfortunately crosses many busy 4-lane streets without crosswalks. In several places you have to hop a high curb (there is no transition from the road). You can bike the sidewalk down to the next interaction with a light, but most people just frogger across to the middle and wait until traffic is clear enough to cross. (This is the main reason I gave the route 3-stars as opposed to 4-stars.)
On a warm summer day, I saw several snakes out on both the Foothills and East/West Trails. Look out for them while biking and certainly watch where you put your hands and feet if you get off the bike!
Do this ride if you want to bike some wonderful non-technical urban gravel trails, see a Buffalo herd and get spectacular view of the Front Range Mountains.
I started this route from the Downtown Littleton light rail station. You can either take the train in from Denver, or there is plenty of free public parking here.
I didn't find a bathroom on route till mile 8.5 in the Fly'n B Park.
There is a place to fill water bottles at mile 1.3 in the Charley Emley Park.
Some other bathrooms on route include one at mile 23.8, right where the East/West trail crosses Griggs Rd, and another right at the turn around point in Daniels Park (mile 26.7).
There is currently a detour on the High Line Canal Trail at about mile 10, and while eventually this will go away, the map does reflect the detour. When thing are back to normal, you can just stay on the High Line.
All of the crushed gravel and dirt trails have been affected by heavy rains. Use caution and watched for rutted or wash-out areas especially after storms.
A favorite place to stop a the end is DIRT Coffee Shop. "DIRT is a local nonprofit social enterprise with the mission to bring you specialty craft Huckleberry coffee, food, and drink while training, employing & empowering neurodivergent individuals through workforce development programming." They work with local businesses, from family-run dairy farms to trailblazing local pastry chefs, to provide gluten-free and vegan options as well a flaky-buttery croissants.
It is located less than a half mile from the finish, a 1/2 block off the Littles Creek trail on Rapp Street.
I got a bike as a young child and quickly set off making trips up and down the driveway then loops around my neighborhood, but I fell away from the joy of cycling as more and more of my free time was occupied by ballet training (around age 10). It wasn’t until I gave up my professional dancing career and moved to Colorado in 2000 that I began cycling seriously.
From infancy, and well into my late 20’s, I suffered from exercise-induced asthma and was afraid of cardio activities that made me wheeze. If my asthma was triggered by an intense activity, I was advised to stop immediately and use an inhaler.
I was into yoga and Pilates back in 2000 (Still am today!), so when one of my friends suggested we go to a spin/yoga class (30 min of spin, followed by 30 min of yoga), I was game to at least try something new. Even though I had trouble breathing in the classes, the safety of an indoor spin class gave be the ability to choose how hard to push myself, and at just 30 min, I slowly learned to tolerate the stress on my lungs. The fact that the spinning was followed by yoga gave me space to work with calming my thoughts and my head which said: “I can’t do this!”. As I got stronger and more confident and my cardio endurance increased, my asthma problems became less and less, and therefore, my willingness to try more adventurous and strenuous activities increased! I went from seeing cyclists biking up Lookout Mountain in Golden, CO and thinking, “they are crazy!”, to, “that looks kind of fun and I wonder if I can do that?”. And then I bought a bike, joined a club and tried biking up that mountain! My Asthma is nearly non-existent and I have been hooked on outdoor biking ever since.
I currently live in downtown Denver and have been car-free for about 10 years, typically biking 7,000+ miles a year between commuting, road riding and gravel bike adventuring. I have been a member of Naked Women’s Racing Team, and Colorado Women’s Cycling Project.
I teach Pilates and Yoga for a living and have been doing it for over 15 years. Just this year, I went out on my own and began a private-practice Pilates Studio called Align.Move.Breathe. I am a self-proclaimed “body nerd”, constantly reading, attending continuing education workshops and learning as much as I can about movement, bio-mechanics, alignment, anatomy and Ideokenesis.
I love to teach my clients how to relax and have fun with all movement, as well as have new and positive experiences with their bodies while gaining strength and flexibility in body, mind, and spirit. I strongly believe in both Pilates and Yoga as safe, supportive, and healing practices which can profoundly transform one’s every-day life!
If you are in the Denver area and interested in the intersection of biking and Pilates or Yoga, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura’s favorite Gravel Route: There are so many great rides it is REALLY hard to decide, but if there was one ride I would do over and over, it would be Four Mile Canyon and Switzerland Trail to Sugarloaf. It’s quiet, beautiful, challenging and fun!