Denver is a paradise for cyclists! The Mile High City boasts more than 85 miles of paved trails that connect to hundreds of additional miles of dirt trails, offering mountain bike adventures. These trails also connect riders to dozens of notable attractions, including the shopping mecca of Cherry Creek and Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre.
THE GREENWAY TRAIL ALONG THE SOUTH PLATTE RIVER
The Greenway Trail, a paved bike path, follows the South Platte River for almost 30 miles, connecting a necklace of riverside parks. Since much of Denver's early history occurred along this river, the Colorado Historical Society has erected more than 20 large historic signs that use photos and illustrations to tell the story of the area. There are markers alongside the trail describing the Native Americans who once lived here, as well plaques with facts about local wildlife and birds. History-focused plaques tell visitors about dinosaurs and the geologic history of the area, as well as the railroads, trolleys, explorers, mountain men, soldiers and farmers that at one time or another traveled beside the South Platte River.
Riverside Cemetery: Many of Denver's famous pioneers are buried in this historic cemetery.
Confluence Park: Denver was founded at this site; today, kayakers can be seen negotiating the man-made rapids of the park. Nearby is My Brother's Bar, the only bar still operating that was once frequented by Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and others from the Beat Generation. Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, the Downtown Aquarium, the Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus and Empower Field at Mile High are all located along the bike path.
Hudson Gardens: Beautiful private gardens are located along the bike path, along with a miniature outdoor garden railway and gorgeous garden walks. The facility operates a riverside cafe for bikers and hikers, with coffees, drinks and desserts.
Chatfield State Park: The bike trail ends at this sprawling park, which offers horseback riding, sailing, swimming and a gigantic balloon festival in August. From here, you can bike south through the park to Waterton Canyon and the beginning of the Colorado Trail. The unpaved Colorado Trail runs for nearly 500 miles to Durango, Colo.; however, parts of it are closed to biking. The first six miles offer a fairly easy, graded surface for biking along the South Platte River. Keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep among the rock outcroppings!
CLEAR CREEK BIKE PATH
The Clear Creek Bike Path is a 20-mile-long paved bike path that follows fast-rushing Clear Creek from the South Platte River to the town of Golden. The path winds through residential neighborhoods and countryside, but always follows the creek. As it nears Golden, the trail offers outstanding views of the high buttes that surround the town.
Golden: The authentically Western town of Golden was Colorado's first capital city. Today, visitors encounter a mix of outdoor cafes, Western stores and museums along a main street that in places still has covered walkways, false-front buildings and plankboard sidewalks. An award-winning kayak course runs through the center of the town and there are numerous outdoor patios where you can enjoy a drink while kayaks float by. Some historic buildings are located directly on the bike path, while Coors Brewery, the largest single brewing site in the world, is nearby.
Colorado Railroad Museum: A mile from Golden and just off the bike path, it's the largest railroad museum in the state, with more than 50 locomotives and cars, all capturing the romantic era of narrow-gauge railroading in the Rocky Mountains.
North Table Mountain, South Table Mountain, Green Mountain: These three buttes and hills all have dirt mountain-biking trails, both along the sides of the buttes and up on top, where they offer spectacular, sweeping views of the metro area. The hills can be steep and rocky and are not suitable for beginning riders.
BEAR CREEK BIKE TRAIL
Bear Creek Bike Trail is a 20-mile trail that follows Bear Creek from the South Platte River to the tiny mountain town of Morrison — gateway to Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre. From here, there are paved bike trail links along C-470 that connect to Chatfield State Park in the south or Golden in the north, making 40- to 60-mile loops possible from downtown Denver.
Morrison: This quaint little town has cafes, coffee and ice cream shops, galleries and fine restaurants, all at the base of unusual geologic rock outcroppings. Bear Creek flows through the edge of the town.
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre: Bear Creek Bike Trail connects to Red Rocks, offering an opportunity to bike around 70-million-year-old red rock outcroppings, some rising 300 feet high. Bikers share the road with cars in the park, and it's a steep incline from Morrison to the amphitheater, but the views are incredible.
HIGH LINE CANAL TRAIL
The High Line Canal Trail is one of the longest urban trails in America. It’s a meandering path that travels 71 miles through suburban Denver, from Waterton Canyon to the plains south of Denver International Airport. It has been designated a National Landmark Trail and covers a peaceful, relatively flat landscape along an irrigation canal owned by Denver Water. While you could potentially bike the whole distance, most people choose a smaller segment, since the path crosses several roads, without under- or over-passes in many cases. There are plenty of benches and parks along the way for breaks, and a canopy of cottonwood trees makes for shady cover.
Chatfield State Park: This beautiful state park southwest of Denver has views of the neighboring foothills and Platte River Valley. It’s a popular destination for recreation: boating on the lake, hiking, camping, horseback riding and even model airplane flying.
Littleton: Historic Downtown Littleton is lined with indie boutiques, antique shops, creative eateries and galleries featuring local artists. The Littleton Museum is a unique place to learn about local history and explore not one but two 19th-century farms.
Aurora History Museum: Changing exhibitions explore regional history, decorative and fine arts, and natural history. The museum's permanent exhibition, "Growing Home," speaks about Aurora and the region's history, including a fully restored 1913 trolley trailer on display.