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  1. #1
    Member jaw_24's Avatar
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    CO Springs to Denver - The hard way...

    I'll be visiting family this summer in Pueblo and Denver and am trying to make a 3 day ride out of it. I'm really shooting for some good forest and mountain exposure with camping along the way, so I was looking at a route from CO Springs to Denver through Pike National Forest. Looked on Bikely and Mapmyride and found one that goes through Palmer Lake, but it didn't really look that interesting, so I took a stab at it myself.

    Can anyone comment on the late summer (August) traffic and conditions on these roads, as they look to mostly be typical small winding roads? Any other suggestions for routes?

    See link below.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...,1.182404&z=10

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    The route up to Woodland Park on Hwy. 24 is problematic. Narrow, busy, sometimes pretty scary. There is some chance to use an alternative route part of the way, but not all of the way. So that part is kind of tough. The route from Woodland Park to Deckers is really nice, there is even a bike path part of the way. The section you have mapped out from Deckers to Pine Nook is dirt road. I don't know if that's a deal breaker to you or not. The biggest problem I see with your route, other than it being quite challenging, is the section from Sedalia into Denver on hwy. 85. I think this section is quite dangerous, or has been -- perhaps it has been widened or something but last time I was on this road it was very unfriendly for bikes. I'm not aware of any nifty ways to avoid this road other than altering a substantial portion of the route by heading north out of Deckers to Buffalo Creek and Pine, then using one of two or three routes to climb to Hwy 285 then down 285 to Meyer's Ranch and up and over to Deer Creek Canyon. That will deposit you in extreme southwest Denver, where you can use bike highway-like MUPs to take you into the city core. That's some tough riding but doable. It may also be possible to zig east from Sedalia and pick up a more friendly route north into town from there, but I'm not sure of that.

    The traditional route along the front range (just east of the mountains but still in the rolling foothills) uses a fairly smooth and fast dirt path from north CS to Monument through the Air Force Academy, then Perry Park Road from Palmer Lake to Sedalia (where you will again have to figure out how to deal with 85). This rolling road passes through some beautiful country; traffic can get pretty bad at times but not too bad by the standards of this rapidly suburbanized area. Douglas County has been one of the fastest growing counties in the country for a few decades, which is to say it used to be empty other than working ranches, now it's full of ranchettes.

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    BTW, if you're starting from Pueblo consider heading west to Wetmore, over Hardscrabble Pass, through Westcliff and on to the Arkansas River. That's quite a detour I know but an awesome ride. Once you hit the canyon you can go east then head north to Woodland Park via 67 or go down to Caņon City and CS via 115.

  4. #4
    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
    The biggest problem I see with your route, other than it being quite challenging, is the section from Sedalia into Denver on hwy. 85.
    And one does not want to ride on Santa Fe. That's everything but a freeway.

    I live in the area, and hwy 85 between Titan Rd and Meadows Pkwy is NOT for bikes. It's no shoulder and 65mph+. From where you pop out at the 67/85 intersection, head SE on 85 to Daniel's Park Rd. That turns to dirt near the top, but it's quite rideable. You'll get to Grigs Rd from there and descend into Highlands Ranch, which is full of bike lanes. I'd take Grigs, left on McArthur Ranch (it's a light), right on Highlands Ranch Pkwy, which turns into Colorado and go from there:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...,1.116486&z=10

    Another option is to head up the east side of 25 on hwy 83 to Franktown, which is well known....

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    Member jaw_24's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice.

    From Westcliffe, are you saying go North via Hwy 9, or some other way?

    So it looks like trying to go west from CS is a little bit of a stretch--I may try one of the other two suggestions. Is the New Santa Fe Trail not very good for touring? I see from descriptions it is packed dirt.
    Last edited by jaw_24; 03-06-09 at 10:41 AM.

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    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaw_24 View Post
    Thanks for the advice.

    From Westcliffe, are you saying go North via Hwy 9, or some other way?

    So it looks like trying to go west from CS is a little bit of a stretch--I may try one of the other two suggestions. Is the New Santa Fe Trail not very good for touring? I see from descriptions it is packed dirt.

    It is ok from the Af Academy to Palmer Lake. The extension to the Greenland Open Space I found to be rutty and very slow.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  7. #7
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
    The route up to Woodland Park on Hwy. 24 is problematic. Narrow, busy, sometimes pretty scary. There is some chance to use an alternative route part of the way, but not all of the way. So that part is kind of tough. The route from Woodland Park to Deckers is really nice, there is even a bike path part of the way. The section you have mapped out from Deckers to Pine Nook is dirt road. I don't know if that's a deal breaker to you or not. The biggest problem I see with your route, other than it being quite challenging, is the section from Sedalia into Denver on hwy. 85. I think this section is quite dangerous, or has been -- perhaps it has been widened or something but last time I was on this road it was very unfriendly for bikes. I'm not aware of any nifty ways to avoid this road other than altering a substantial portion of the route by heading north out of Deckers to Buffalo Creek and Pine, then using one of two or three routes to climb to Hwy 285 then down 285 to Meyer's Ranch and up and over to Deer Creek Canyon. That will deposit you in extreme southwest Denver, where you can use bike highway-like MUPs to take you into the city core. That's some tough riding but doable. It may also be possible to zig east from Sedalia and pick up a more friendly route north into town from there, but I'm not sure of that.

    The traditional route along the front range (just east of the mountains but still in the rolling foothills) uses a fairly smooth and fast dirt path from north CS to Monument through the Air Force Academy, then Perry Park Road from Palmer Lake to Sedalia (where you will again have to figure out how to deal with 85). This rolling road passes through some beautiful country; traffic can get pretty bad at times but not too bad by the standards of this rapidly suburbanized area. Douglas County has been one of the fastest growing counties in the country for a few decades, which is to say it used to be empty other than working ranches, now it's full of ranchettes.

    The only section of US 24 that would be a problem would be from just outside of Manitou to Cascade. Once past Cascade the road widens significantly with a very good shoulder all the way to Woodland Park.

    The section of 67 that comes out of Decker to Pine Nook is dirt, rather steep and covered in wheel sucking gravel. Do able but it would be difficult. I'd suggest continuing on 126 to Pine Junction, then down US285 to Conifer. Turn down Pleasant Park Road and take it to So. Deer Creek Road which connects into Deer Creek Canyon Road. You'll pop out of the mountains at Chatfield Res. From there you can follow the C470 trail and the Platte Trail to Belleview.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Fonk's Avatar
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    US 24 isn't that bad, I don't think. I've ridden it several times, living in Manitou. There's not much of a shoulder between Manitou and Waldo Canyon, but as long as you ride smart, it's not a problem. It's actually a very popular ride among Springs riders. From Waldo on, as the previous poster said, it's pretty wide shoulders the rest of the way to Woodland Park; couldn't ask for much better. The ride north of WP on CO 67 is BEAUTIFUL, definitely worth your while. If you opt for a more direct route, CO 105 along the Front Range is a great ride, too. Riding through peaceful, rolling pastures right along the mountains - very nice. In my experience the traffic isn't usually too bad, either.
    "The only opponent is within."

  9. #9
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fonk View Post
    US 24 isn't that bad, I don't think. I've ridden it several times, living in Manitou. There's not much of a shoulder between Manitou and Waldo Canyon, but as long as you ride smart, it's not a problem. It's actually a very popular ride among Springs riders. From Waldo on, as the previous poster said, it's pretty wide shoulders the rest of the way to Woodland Park; couldn't ask for much better. The ride north of WP on CO 67 is BEAUTIFUL, definitely worth your while. If you opt for a more direct route, CO 105 along the Front Range is a great ride, too. Riding through peaceful, rolling pastures right along the mountains - very nice. In my experience the traffic isn't usually too bad, either.
    I'd agree that 105 is nice from Palmer Lake to Sedalia. It's the section of US85 from there to about Titan Road that is dicey. I think you take take Petersen Road to Airport Road (and maybe a little beyond), however, once you have to get on US85, there's very little shoulder and lots of rude drivers until you get to Titan Rd. Not my usual stomping grounds but I've driven through there a few times recently.
    Stuart Black
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    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
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