Weekend Wheeling in Denver
Much of the Front Range biking community primarily uses Mount Falcon, thereby making it crowded most weekdays after work and at all times during the weekend. An alternative ride strings together two additional parks, O'Fallon and Lair O' the Bear, for a 22-mile loop that seldom has any riders. With a little bit of pavement riding that connects each park, this makes for one of the better, longer, more challenging rides along the Front Range. Most of the climbing takes place with the ascent to Mount Falcon early in the ride; the total ride's elevation gain is a significant 3,300 feet. The descent to O'Fallon is fast and exciting, while Lair O' the Bear provides a mellower grade to cool down from the three-hour single-track experience.
Take US Route 285 west from Denver and exit right on Colorado Route 8. Travel north toward Morrison for 1.3 miles and turn left at Forest Avenue. Follow the signs to the Mount Falcon trailhead.
Begin the ride by cranking three miles up Castle Trail to its junction with Meadow Trail directly across from Walker's Home Ruin. Turn left on Meadow Trail and reach an intersection at mile 3.4. Turn left and climb a short distance before turning left again onto Old Ute Trail. Follow this to Devil's Elbow, where you turn left and down. Take the left fork of the loop and complete the Devil's Elbow loop. Drop back to the Meadow Trail intersection. Continue straight uphill on Meadow Trail, which leads to the west parking lot.
Take the Mount Falcon Road down from the parking lot to Picutis Road. Turn right and continue down to the paved Parmalee Gulch Road. Your computer should now indicate about eight miles from the beginning. Turn right and climb on Parmalee for a mile to Inca Road. Find the unmarked single-track (you've now reached O'Fallon) just off the road on the right. Climb a bit before dropping to a dirt road. Head north (straight) and climb again. About 10 miles into the ride, just after a rocky descent, a trail joins on the left. It's easy to miss, so slow down and look carefully.
Turn right and stay on the main route into the valley below. A short climb reaches a wide trail/road where you turn left. Immediately go left again on the narrow single-track and continue down all the way to the bridge and parking area of O'Fallon Park. Turn left through the park to Bear Creek Canyon Road. Turn right on the pavement. Just as you pass through Corwina Park, look for a gate on the right that leads to a bridge across Bear Creek. Take it and find the trail on the other side, which is now in Lair O' the Bear Park.
Follow Bear Creek downstream on a wide trail. Turn right at the second bridge, then right again on Bruin Bluff Trail and begin climbing. After zigzagging on some switchbacks, return to the creek and continue on Bruin Bluff Trail, which comes to a parking lot about 16.6 miles from the beginning. Turn right onto State Route 74 toward Morrison. In Morrison, turn right onto Colorado Route 8 at the first signal. The Mount Falcon trailhead lies at the top of the hill.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication