Things to do in Denver

Mountain Biking the Front Range

There is a vast array of trails and logging roads zigzagging throughout the Front Range, and mounting a trusty two-wheeled steed is perhaps the best way to explore them. Sara Jacobi of University Bicycles in Boulder is particularly fond of the Switzerland Trail. "It's only about a 15-minute drive from town, and you can be cruising through gorgeous golden aspens in fall or getting great views on a side trail up Sugarloaf Mountain."

The Switzerland Trail is an ideal ride for novice bikers. It gains about 1,300 feet in elevation, but the grade is a manageable 4 percent, the path is level, and there are always great views to coax riders along. Intermediate pedalers will also find plenty to keep them occupied—from side trails to loops, including Bear Gulch and the top of Bald Mountain.

If you ride from Boulder, it's about 25 miles out and back; pedal up Boulder Canyon to Sugarloaf Road, then continue another 13 miles to the Switzerland Trail sign and parking lot. From there it's about a 12-mile loop through the forest. If you pedal the canyon trail to Gold Hill, watch for deer in the early morning or evening. Take a left at the Peak to Peak Highway; follow the highway two miles; then turn left again at CR 120 to rejoin the trail. Follow it back to the parking lot.

A more difficult ride—one of my favorites—is the St. Mary's Glacier Loop. The trail starts at the old mining town of Alice and climbs past spruce and fir groves before emerging above treeline. In summer, you'll find small "bellyflowers" or cushion plants like white Alpine Phlox and bright pink Moss Campion along the way. These tiny plants, living in the harsh, high-elevation tundra, may be over 100 years old.

The trail varies from pavement to dirt roads with plenty of steep rocky stretches. From Denver, drive west on Interstate 70 to exit 238—Fall River Road. Turn right and drive about 8.5 miles, just past the St. Mary's ski area. Park in the lot on the left.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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