Colorado Mountain Biking Adventures - Part 9

Hall Ranch: One mile south of Lyons on Colorado 7, dirt trails here are intermediate with several advanced sections. The first two miles of the Bitterbrush Trail are fun and easy then climb over steeper switchbacks with large rock obstacles. Round-trip distance, including the Nelson Loop, is 10 miles.

Beginning in ever-changing Douglas County, the Willow Creek Trail is reminiscent of developing city paths several years ago. The trail is a work in progress for the first seven miles, frequently alternating between paved asphalt and concrete surfaces along parks and neighborhoods to short transitions onto wide dirt double tracks through open spaces and fields next to ditches and other waterways. Watch for construction projects along the way. After the Englewood Dam, look for the on-street route going left on Homestead Street to the continuing dirt trail straight across East Arapahoe Road. After South Holly Street, the trail continues a half block on Forest Street. At 7.2 miles, this section of the Highline Canal Trail is arguably the most scenic trail in the metro area. Majestic trees along the canal overlook lush, overgrown open spaces with wild flowers, marshes and ponds.

Centennial Trail West: After crossing under C-470 and County Line Road through the three lighted tunnels at 1.5 miles, the Centennial Trail can be easily joined near a car dealership. The westbound concrete path coasts gently downhill meeting the Highline Canal Trail near McLellen Reservoir. Continuing west across South Santa Fe Drive, the path meets the northbound Platte River Trail, which continues along the river to downtown Denver at Confluence Park.

Centennial Trail East: After crossing under C-470 and County Line Road at 1.5 miles, the eastbound Centennial Trail climbs gently south of Park Meadows Mall and under Interstate 25. East of the highway, wide open spaces and quiet rolling hills prevail. Near Parker, the trail meets Cherry Creek Trail with continuing options north and south.

Highline-Centennial Loop: At 7.2 miles, riders can bear left to join the westbound Highline Canal Trail. It twists southwest past Dekoevend Park on South University Boulevard to eventually join the Centennial Trail past Writers Vista Park and McLellen Reservoir. Take the Centennial Trail east, paralleling C-470, back to the junction with the Willow Creek Trail west of Yosemite.

Mueller State Park has it all. With abundant trail options and wonderful scenery, it's surprising Mueller State Park isn't more crowded. All the trails shown on the map are open to bikers, and there are more for both bikers and hikers within the 12,000-acre park. More than 80 miles of trails are available, and the area map may look confusing. But all of the trails are numbered and every intersection has signs. The trails here are a mix of dirt road (closed to autos) covered with a sand and gravel mix and smooth single track. All are well-maintained to the point where some riders may yearn for an occasional rock outcropping or similar obstacle. However, the ride will get lungs and legs working with a handful of climbing and descent cycles up to about 9,700 feet.

Continued In: Colorado Mountain Biking Adventures - Part 10

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