Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Castle Rock, CO
Bikes: '09 Gary Fisher "Kaitai, '09 Raleigh Team", '91 Trek 8700, '97 Cannondale SR500, '12 Raleigh Twin Six
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How far are you willing to stray? Do you want to ride from home or are you willing to drive to ride? What do you consider a "long" loop. I have a few suggestions around Castle Rock if you are willing to travel a little ways. I have most of these and several road rides mapped in my Garmin GPS, so let me know if you want a map file.
1) Ridgeline trail in Castle Rock has 10-12 miles of uninterupted singletrack. I've been riding my CX on that trail all summer. There are a couple loose sections where my CX just doesn't have enough tire, but there aren't really any spots where I feel I need a lower gear or suspension.
2) If you want something a little more tour oriented, Jackson Creek Rd to Dakan Rd. off of highway 105 makes a nice loop. I have this mapped as ~45 miles starting at the Douglas County fairgrounds using Tomah and Wolfensberger to get there. Be prepaired to climb. I show a low of about 6200' and a high point of ~8600' on the major climbing portion of the route. This would be about 45-50% gravel road.
3) If you want to have an epic, mixed surface ride, you could start at Castlewood Canyon State Park, take Castlewood Canyon Rd (gravel) south to South Lake Gulch (paved), turn West a short distance to Garton Rd (gravel), and follow that to Upper Lake Gulch (gravel) to Larkspur. From there you have some options. For more gravel take Spruce Mtn Rd. (paved) south toward Palmer Lake and turn west on Noe Rd. (gravel) to highway 105 (paved). Take 105 north to Tomah Rd (paved) and follow Tomah back to the I-25 frontage road (paved). Follow that back to Plum Creek in Castle Rock. Follow Plum Creek east to Ridge Rd. Turn north on Ridge Rd. and east on Enderud (paved). Follow Enderud until it intersects Highway 86. Cross 86 at the light and follow Valley View (gravel) norhteast to the Cherry Creek trail and use the Cherry Creek Trail to head south back to Castlewood Canyon. Not sure of the total distance here, but I'm guessing it's in the 65 mile range with ~35% gravel roads. You can cut off 15 miles or so by taking Spruce Mtn north toward I-25 and use the railroad service road (1.25 miles of dirt) to get back to the I-25/Tomah interchange. There are also three paved roads between Larkspur and Palmer Lake between Spruce Mtn. and 105: Perry Park is the shortest, Fox Farm has the least amount of traffic and is more scenic, and Spruce Mtn. will take you all the way to Palmer Lake where it intersects 105. Castlewood Canyon may be accessed by the Cherry Creek Trail if you want to ride from Denver.
4) There is a pretty good trail system at Greenland just off of I-25. I'm not as familiar with the trails, but this is where they run 24 hour of E-Rock. The course is a little over 8 miles and is well suited to CX riding. I'm told this trail can get pretty busy with hikers, bikers, and dog walkers.
5) I regularly ride a 27 mile loop from the Douglas County fairgrounds that follows several of the roads on the long loop above that ends up being about 13 miles of gravel.