Originally Posted by ersatz radio
I'm going to be in Colorado this month for a week with my girlfriend. I don't ride a lot of singletrack--there's only about 20 miles of it within riding distance here--and she's pretty inexperienced also. Something without exceptionally steep descents or long climbs would be good. Any suggestions for trails?
These are close to Denver
In the mountain, Elk Meadows in Bergen Park, near Evergreen which is a Jefferson County Open Space. If you go left out of the parking lot, it's a hard climb but you get a more gentle ride back to the car. If you go left, it's a long (very long) gentle climb with a screaming downhill at the end (keep you speed down however!)
Closer to town, Bear Creek Lake Park. Park at the Conoco at Rooney Road and Morrison Road. Then ride across Morrison Road to the bike path (careful about the traffic), then turn left (east) and follow the bike path until you come to a bridge, take a right and then turn left immediately after the bridge. (Note: It may be the second bridge, I can't recall precisely
) You should be on dirt now. Follow the dirt where ever it goes and go all the way around the lake. Make sure you come back by the creek to the exit. Fairly flat terrain with one or two surprises
Generally a very fun low key ride.
More challenge? Ride Green Mountain. Park on the Rooney Road (west) side. Go up Lonesome Trail to the south (left). Don't go right! That takes you up a nasty, nasty road that is really, really boring! It is nice and smooth and very, very steep! No fun at all. Continue on around on the trail to the south and then east. When you get to a point where another trail comes in from the road and you can see switch backs to your left, turn around and go back.
More challenge but smoother? Park at the visitor center for the National Renewable Energy Lab on Denver West Parkway, just off I-70 near the Colorado Mills Shopping Center. (If you can't find it, PM me and I'll give you precise directions). Roll down the sidewalk to the east (the way you came) about 1/4 mile and look for a trail going up the hill. Follow this trail until it branches but keep to the left. It will eventually take you to the top of the mountain (it's sort of steep but not technical). When you get to the top, bear left and ride down to the fence. You'll have to get right up to it to see a trail that follows the fence line. Follow it around until you come to a two track road, bear left and follow the road all the way around to where it drops off the mountain. But you don't want to go down here. Keep bearing left along the cliff (stop and take in the views
) until you come to a trail that leads down (you should be able to see the shopping center across the valley). This will take you down to the first branch, just keep going down hill and you are back.
In terms of difficulty, I'd say Bear Creek is the easiest (but still fun), then Elk Meadow (lots of traffic but it's in the mountains), then Green Mountain (short climbs but generally mellow) and finally Table Mountain. Table Mountain is very pretty and a really good example of the Colorado high plains and not too many people use it.
For the Colorado Springs area, I'm not that familiar with it but look at Greenland Ranch in Douglas County. Very nice high plains ride. You can even connect with the Santa Fe Trail system and ride over towards Monument. I'd also look at the Santa Fe Trail. It's an old railbed but its rather pretty and easy to ride.