Popular cycling routes in Colorado

April 19, 2024
A person with a bike and a beautiful sky. Learn about popular bike rides in Colorado. Photo: Getty Images
From cruising around your neighborhood to riding on a bike path or a trail in the mountains, Colorado is home to many great bike paths and trails. Learn about some of the most popular bike routes. Photo: Getty Images.

Whether you’re cruising around your neighborhood, zooming on a road bike and climbing up a steep Colorado mountain pass, getting out on your bike is a great way to stay fit and happy.

Here are some popular cycling routes in Colorado.

Please note: distances are one way. And always be kind and courteous to other people who are using bike paths and trails. Most routes are multi-use trails that include joggers, hikers, walkers and cyclists. Be considerate, wear a helmet and have fun.

Denver parks loops: City Park, Washington Park, Cheesman Park, Sloan’s Lake

These are all easy, flat and paved rides around the perimeter of the city’s parks, and most riders do several loops around. Distances: City Park 3.1 miles outer, 1.3 inner; Washington Park 2.25 miles; Cheesman Park 1.1 mile; Sloan’s Lake 2.8 miles.

Cherry Creek Bike Trail

Probably the most popular urban trail in Denver, this paved flat route runs mostly along the creek for 25 miles from Confluence Park to Cherry Creek State Park. Lots of pedestrians on this route as it runs parallel to Speer Boulevard to the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, Four Mile Historic Park and then Cherry Creek State Park.

South Platte River Trail

The entire 28-mile paved and dirt trail along the Platte runs from Englewood north to Henderson going through downtown Denver. The Colorado Historical Society has 20 signs marking history from Native Americans to pioneer and railroad days. A shorter route along the river is 12 miles from Chatfield State Park to Thornton. It also intersects with the Cherry Creek Bike Path at Confluence Park.  

Highline Canal Trail

The longest trail in metro Denver stretches 70 miles from Chatfield State Park to Denver International Airport over pavement, dirt, gravel and nearly 600 feet of elevation gain. Many riders do portions of it where it connects with the Cherry Creek bike path in southeast Denver and then winds northeast through Aurora.    

Bear Creek Bike Trail

One of the more scenic routes in the metro area, the 14.5 mile paved trail starts in Morrison near Red Rocks Park and runs through Lakewood, Sheridan and southwest Denver, where it meets to South Platte River Trail.   

Sand Creek Regional Greenway Trail

The 13.5-mile bike trail is mostly paved, starts in the Central Park neighborhood and runs along the creek northwest to Commerce City and connects with the South Platte River Trail on the north end and Highline Canal on the south end.

Clear Creek Trail

This 19-mile paved trail runs from the South Platte River Trail at Commerce City west to Golden, with a 220-foot elevation gain. Portions that go under bridges and along Clear Creek can be flooded after heavy rains.

Ralston Creek Trail

Connecting with the Clear Creek Trail, this 13-mile route has a 260-foot elevation gain running along the creek through Arvada passing greenways, neighborhoods and a golf course to the Arvada Blunn Reservoir.

Vail Pass

One of the most popular summer rides in the Rockies is the top of 10.662-foot Vail Pass, the only high Colorado mountain pass with separate paved bike paths on both sides. From East Vail to the summit is 17 miles roundtrip with a 1,831-foot elevation gain. From Frisco Marina, the ride is 26 miles roundtrip with a 1,550-foot climb. The most ambitious route is from Breckenridge to the summit with a 2,300-foot climb over 41 miles roundtrip. The path goes through Copper Mountain on the east side and on the west side, continues into Vail Village. Many riders who aren’t ready for the strenuous and steep uphill portions can rent bikes (including E-bikes) at cycle shops in Breckenridge, Frisco, Copper or Vail that take you to the summit in a van for a downhill ride.

Dillon Reservoir Loop

This scenic 19-mile route circles the Dillon Reservoir with a 1,076-feet elevation gain and moderate 6% uphill grade. It starts off the I-70 Silverthorne-Frisco exit to Swan Mountain trailhead west of Highway 9 and continues along the Snake River, Dillon Dam and Frisco bike paths.

Aspen to Maroon Bells

This spectacular scenic ride starts from the Aspen Highlands resort up Maroon Creek Road to 9,100-foot Maroon Lake near the Bells, the most photographed mountains in the state. It is 16-miles roundtrip with a steady 1,300-foot elevation gain. The U.S. Forest Service regulates traffic on Maroon Creek Road and tourist buses run continuously from Aspen Highlands to the lake, so riders need to be careful, particularly going downhill. For those who want a less strenuous climb, E-bike rentals are available in Aspen Highlands.

Trestle Bike Park and summery mountain biking trails at multiple Colorado ski resorts

For mountain bikers, summer opens up hundreds of miles of scenic mountain trails at seven Colorado ski resorts: Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, Keystone, Snowmass and Steamboat. One of the most popular is the Trestle Bike Park at Winter Park, with 40 miles of trails accessible by the gondola and lifts rated from easy to expert. All of the resort summer bike parks have a cost to taking a bike up the gondola or ski lifts, and they all have bike rentals and gear available (helmets required) for those who don’t take their own mountain bikes and gear.

About the author

Mary Gay Broderick is a Denver-based freelance writer with more than 25 years experience in journalism, marketing, public relations and communications. She enjoys telling compelling stories about healthcare, especially the dedicated UCHealth professionals and the people whose lives they transform. She enjoys skiing, hiking, biking and traveling, along with baking (mostly) successful desserts for her husband and three daughters.