Weekend Wheeling in Denver

South Valley
By Tom Barnhart
  |  Gorp.com

Unlike many rides found in the area, this nearly seven-mile multiple loop has no extended climbs and no technical sections. Yes, there is some elevation change as this hour-long ride bobs, rolls, and weaves around the spectacular red rock formation and hogback. Yes, there are also a couple of short, steep sections to contend with. However, a family with teenagers should be able to tackle most of the terrain. The trail varies in width from very wide to narrow, but it's smooth—a rarity for Denver's rocky terrain. With the multiple trailheads and access points, this park allows you to create a variety of routes. Combined with road or paved path miles, this can be as long or as short as one desires. While seasonal closures may occur on some trails due to elk migrations, on the whole this area is a good one for winter rides.

Getting There
Take C470 from the southwest Denver metro area and exit at Kipling Street. Head south, then quickly turn right (west) and follow the signs toward Deer Creek Canyon Park. Just prior to South Valley Road and the first traffic signal, look for the gated trailhead on the right. Park on the left in the informal parking area.

The Trail
Begin the ride by crossing the road and climbing the wide, signed Coyote Song Trail. Note where the first narrow single-track trail enters on the left—you will take this trail on the way back. Continue climbing and turn right onto Lyons Back Trail. The next section, called "the stairs," takes you to the ridge summit a mile from the trailhead. On the way down, take the first right in the swale below to the double-track road, also known as the Cathy Johnson Trail.

Turn left and climb on the double-track to the marked Loop Trail. Turn left again and ride up to the ridge summit. Head downhill to Coyote Song Trail where you turn left and drop back to the unmarked narrow single-track trail on the right that you previously passed. After reaching the wide Swallow Song Trail, turn left and follow it all the way down to South Valley Road, approximately 3.7 miles from the trailhead. Cross the pavement and pick up Grazing Elk Trail, which climbs quickly up the mesa to the start of a loop.

If you want to take the loop counterclockwise (my recommendation), turn right and climb for about a mile before reaching the top of a fun descent through several ravines. Climb back to the start of the loop. Turn right and head back to South Valley Road, where a right turn leads to the trailhead.

A nice option is to combine this ride with Deer Creek Canyon Park to see some slightly different scenery and make a total ride of about 15 miles. To make this addition, turn right at the traffic signal and pedal a short distance to Grizzly Drive. Turn left and follow the signs to the Deer Creek Canyon Park trailhead.


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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