Biking through some the of best things Morrison and Lakewood, CO are known for:
Dinosaur Ridge, where the world’s first Stegosaurus was discovered and with more than 250 amazing Cretaceous dinosaur tracks and other trace fossils.
Red Rocks Park, the beautiful, world renowned concert venue and recreation park.
Bear Creek Lake Park, a 2,624-acre park with camping, lakes and trails.
Stone House Park, a green space with ponds, creek, trails and rental space.
The spectacular and up-close scenery you get to see from Dinosaur Ridge and Red Rocks Park is well worth the work of the climbs, especially if seeing the stunning red rock formations is new to you.
The Mt Carbon Loop single track trail in Bear Creek State park has some nice terrain variety and beautiful views. (In general the trail on the South side of the park is rockier, steeper and more technical, while the trails on the North side were smoother, wider and less challenging.) The downhill portion around mile 21 was particularly smooth, flowy and fast. Weeee!!!!
The Bear Creek Trail recently got some new gravel path upgrades, and putting that together with the Bear Creek Greenbelt Trail and Stone House Trails is super enjoyable! These trails are either non-technical wide crushed gravel or easy winding single or double track. If you are only familiar with the paved section of the Bear Creek Trail, you'll be surprised to find so much unpaved fun that was hiding right next to it.
A few of the southern sections of the Mt Carbon Loop trail were just on the edge of our comfort level. It has some steep and rocky sections and narrow single track with exposure. We just got off the bike and walked any sections that make us nervous. The large majority of it was bikeable with our gravel tires (Panaracer 700x36 GravelKing SK+ with psi at 35) so long as we kept up our focus, momentum and nerves!
It had rained the day before and while 98% of the trails were dry, we did go through a small muddy water crossing around mile 13.5 and again at mile 19 that was deeper than anticipated. (We could have detoured onto the paved trail to avoid it if we'd really wanted to, but it was kinda fun despite soaking our feet!) 🐷
Do this ride if you want a quick ride that is not far from the city of Denver but still has unique Colorado views, and isn't lacking in adventure.
We parked at the Morrison Park 'n Ride lot at the corner of Morrison Road and Rooney Road. The parking area can get busy on the weekends but between the lot and street parking along Rooney Road, we were able to find a spot easily. There are bathrooms and a convenience store available across the street at the Phillips 66 Gas Station.
(This is also easily bikeable from Denver via the Platte and Mary Carter bike trails, but it would add about 25 miles of pavement.)
There are many places to find public bathrooms on route in both Red Rocks Park and Bear Creek Lake Park.
If you are not up for the more technical sections of the Mt Carbon Loop trail (mainly miles 10-12), you can easily switch to the paved Bear Creek Trail which will seamlessly join back up with the provided route.
This kind of route is exactly what gravel bikes were designed for- versatility and speed moving easily between pavement, gravel paths and single track. Laura's Rodeo Labs Flannimal bike handled it all beautifully. Check out Rodeo Adventure Labs for more info about their Denver-made bikes.
We recommend Morrision Joe's for pre or post-ride coffee, and Red Rocks Beer Garden for a pint. Both are located less than a mile from the parking lot in the town of Morrison.