Denver is one of the most bike-friendly major cities in the United States, representing a haven for those wishing to explore hundreds of miles of paved and gravel trails. Bicyclist enthusiasts can hit the bike paths and find stunning views of the Rockies and the downtown skyline. The city also has a multitude of bike shops and bike rental stations, allowing everyone the opportunity to exercise their bike legs and explore beginner-friendly urban paths before advancing onto the more rugged mountain biking routes that dot the city’s landscape.
Gear up for some epic bike adventures and hit the trails on a mountain bike or enjoy the scenery on a paved trail with a road bike. The Mile High City has a lot to offer in terms of nature views, some best enjoyed on two wheels.
Bear Creek Bike Trail
Bear Creek Trail provides an accessible bike route from downtown Denver to the world-famous Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater, located in Morrison, Colorado. The park is owned and operated by the city of Denver and hosts various live music concerts and events throughout the year. The 14.5-mile trail provides striking views and a heart-thumping workout. Pedaling up the red rocks not only increases your heart rate, it provides an entrance to the scenic views of 200 miles of the north and south plains. If that wasn’t enough of a workout already, try running up the 138 steps from the stage to the top of the amphitheater.
Bikers looking to extend their ride can link up with the Platte River Trail or turn their ride into a day trip by visiting the Colorado Music Hall of Fame inside of the park. Beginner cyclists should be aware that Bear Creek Bike Trail is slightly uphill the entire way, which can be difficult for those not adjusted to this type of riding.
The Platte River Trail
The Platte River Trail is a 28.5-mile greenway that not only invites riders on an exciting outdoor excursion but provides an insightful history lesson as well. Along the trail, riders will encounter a number of informational and educational signs that have been erected by the Colorado Historical Society. These plaques include insight into Native American history, railroads, and the local wildlife that can be spotted along the trail. The South Platte River Trail was originally used by Native Americans and later by early settlers.
Running parallel to the Platte River, the aptly named trail extends as far north as Brighton and south to Chatfield State Park. There are various things to do and sights to take in along the path and bikers can extend their journey by exploring the historic downtown of Littleton or visiting Riverside Cemetery. The trail joins with the Cherry Creek Trail at Confluence Park, allowing for an opportunity to tack on more miles to the ride.
PRO Tip: During the summer months, bicyclists will likely encounter inline skaters and walkers. During the snowy months, The Platte River Trail is popular amongst cross-country skiers.
The Washington Park Loop
Washington Park or, “Wash Park,” as it’s referred to by the locals is Denver’s version of Central Park. With over 160 acres of property, the park is one of the largest in the city and is a popular community gathering place for outdoor recreation. The 2.25-mile perimeter loop is a paved path, so bikers can expect to share the trail with runners, walkers, and the occasional rollerblade skater.
The park boasts beautiful flower gardens, as well as a playground and two lakes. Ideally suited for road bikes or cruisers, the loop may be shared by strollers and other family-friendly wheels. The area is also popular with birders, so bikers should keep their eyes peeled for wildlife and pedestrians that are busy looking at the trees and the sky. Dogs are allowed, so long as they’re kept leashed. Bikers wanting to add on to the 2.25-mile path will have multiple chances to either shorten or lengthen the route via offshoot trails.
Cherry Creek Bike Path
Bicyclists can hop on the Cherry Creek Bike Path at Confluence Park. In its entirety, the path spans more than 40 miles — ultimately going into Franktown. This trail is popular amongst locals and tourists alike, as it intersects with the Cherry Creek Shopping District. The path can be ridden to Castlewood Canyon State Park as well, where history enthusiasts can explore the remnants of the Castlewood Dam.
There is convenient access to the bike path via various roads and ramps around Denver, as well as parks such as Sunken Gardens and Four Mile Historic Park. This park is four miles from downtown and features the Four Mile House which was constructed in 1859. This is widely considered to be the oldest remaining structure in the Denver metro region. Bikers can also take in the natural beauty of Cherry Creek State Park, which has 12 miles of paved trails and over 30 miles of multi-use trails commonly used by bikers and hikers.
PRO Tip: Segments of the path are in rural areas, including wooded and hilly portions. Inexperienced riders may want to travel with a group and ensure they have adequate hydration before they make the trek into Franktown.
City Park Loops
Situated next to the Denver Zoo, City Park offers Denverites convenient access to several loop trails. The Ferril Lake Loop is just under a mile and encompasses the park’s central lake. The longer Mile High Loop spans across a greater portion of the park, totaling just over 3 miles of riding paths. Perched at precisely 5,280 feet, this loop is aptly named.
Those without personal bikes can visit the B-Cycle rental station near the zoo or rent a tandem bike from Wheel Fun Rentals. There are also big-wheeled bikes available for day rentals. During the day, the loops are also used by runners and walkers, as well as the occasional stroller. There are no public roadways on the loop, which provides a sense of safety to those looking to enjoy the outdoors without keeping their eyes peeled for motorized vehicles.
High Line Canal Trail
The High Line Canal Trail is the longest continuous bike path in Denver, totaling over 70 miles. The trail begins near Chatfield State Park, which is a popular location for outdoor recreation. This is one of the longest urban trails in the United States, providing a unique opportunity for avid bicyclists in the Denver area to work on their stamina and endurance. The canal itself was built in 1883 and provides irrigation for the ever-growing city and surrounding region. Gravity is used to move the water from the high elevation of the foothills of Waterton Canyon to the plains of northeast Denver.
The canal trail offers a diverse mix of surfaces, such as packed dirt paths and paved surfaces suitable for road bikes. Gravel riders and fat-tire bicyclists can enjoy the winding trail that boasts views of the surrounding canyons and valleys. The path descends slowly but provides enough opportunity to increase your heart rate. Along the path are places to rest, shop, and relax in several of the neighborhood parks.
PRO Tip: Along the 71 miles, there are 27 walkable and bike-friendly segments. This provides bikers with plenty of trails to explore and new adventures each time they visit.
Clear Creek Trail
Clear Creek Trail is one of the more physically demanding bike paths in Denver, allowing many local riders to challenge themselves. The 5,800-foot climb doubles as a serene path that follows Clear Creek and spans a distance of 18 miles. Bicyclists can begin in Denver and make their way to the charming town of Golden, which was once the capital city of Colorado before Denver claimed the title. The town has plenty of restaurants and shops to choose from and can easily transform the ride into a day trip.
As a reward for completing the trail, riders can head over to Coors Brewery — the largest single-site brewery in the world. Kick back and drink a cold one before heading back home or explore the Colorado School of Mines campus and visit a few local bike shops for any repairs or last-minute essentials for your next outing.
Sloan’s Lake is a massive body of water, just a few miles west of downtown Denver. The lake is bordered by urban streets and is the location of the annual Dragon Boat Festival. Bikers can take a few laps around the 2.8-mile loop that circles the 150+ acre park. After working up a sweat, check out any of the breweries and coffee shops in the surrounding community or grab a hot slice of pizza at the Edgewater Inn.
This is an easy beginner ride and doesn’t offer any difficult areas of climbing. Pedaling alongside the lake provides a sense of peaceful ambiance while allowing budding bicyclists to avoid any vehicle traffic. Those looking to challenge themselves with a bit of a climb can head to nearby Lowell Boulevard — which adds 3/4 of a mile that will get the heart rate up before ending on a long downhill segment to cool down.
PRO Tip: There is limited parking at Sloan’s Lake. When possible, bikers are encouraged to use their bike to travel to the park or arrive early to ensure a spot.
Exciting Denver Cycling Events
The Colorado Classic is a four-stage race that was first held in 2017. The race originally included both a men’s and women’s race. However, the men’s competition was disbanded after 2018. The classic has continued as a women’s event and consists of 313 miles spanning across Denver, Colorado Springs, Vail, and Breckenridge. The purse was increased from $20,000 to $75,000 in 2018.
Denver Cruiser Ride
The Denver Cruiser Ride is not only exciting to watch, but it’s also even more fun to participate in the social event. The group ride has been a cycling community tradition around the city that began back in 2005. The monthly rides have different themes, encouraging riders to dress up and deck their bike out for the leisurely spin. Most rides begin in the evening and end at a secret location for a low-key afterparty. Memberships for the rides can be purchased for an annual fee of $20, which includes a license plate for the bike.
Bike to Work Day
In an effort to encourage people to commute to work by swapping a motorized vehicle for a bicycle, Denverites are encouraged to do their part in protecting the air quality on June 28th. Those who sign up for the event will be automatically entered for prize drawings, including an e-bike. Check out the pledge to ride on the website, where participants will be asked for their full name and contact information.
Coldwell Banker Century Ride
This ride is Colorado’s only urban-based ride. During 2023, the ride will be held on September 23rd and begins and ends at the Shops at Northfield. This ride presents the prime opportunity for Denverites to explore the city in an environmentally-friendly way. The ride spans many of Denver’s diverse neighborhoods, local bike trails, and popular attractions. Riders can connect to others in the cycling community who commute to work via bike or simply ride recreationally