Trail: C-470 West/Bear Creek/ Mary Carter Greenway Loop
Trail Length: 32 mile loop
Starting Elevation: 5,881’
Elevation Gain: 780’ net elevation gain
Trail Location: Ken Caryl and C-470
We didn’t have a chance last weekend to get out into the mountains for any hiking so I decided to get on my bike for a bike ride, which I haven’t done in weeks. I used to cycle quite regularly, putting on around 1,800 miles a year but the last couple of years I’ve opted to do more hiking that biking.
Sunday was the start of RAGBRAI, the annual weeklong bike ride across the state of Iowa, so I thought it was fitting that I take a bike ride. I’m originally from Iowa and have gone back to Iowa the last several years to participate in RAGBRAI but didn’t have the time this year to do that.
We are fortunate here in the Denver metro area to have many great places to bike. The metro area offers more than 850 miles of paved off-road trails with a variety of trails and scenery. You often do not even feel like you are in a big metro area when out cycling. I have a favorite 32-mile loop that I can start right from my house.
I started off from my house and headed west over to the C-470 West Trail and turned north onto the bike path. The downside of this section of the trail is that it does parallel interstate C-470 but you do have great open views of the Colorado foothills. The trail along C-470 has a lot of rolling hills. A few miles from home I hit the high point of the loop at 5,921’ just south of Bowles Avenue.
A trail sign near Eldridge Street just before crossing the bridge over Highway 285 and heading down into Bear Creek Lake Park.
A view looking north of the bike path dropping down into Bear Creek Park.
Once in the park, I took a right off of the C-470 path and headed east onto the Bear Creek Trail. The trail heads across the open park and soon climbs the Bear Creek Lake dam A view to the northeast looking over towards the lake.
A self-portrait along the Bear Creek Trail.
After climbing to the top of the dam, the trail heads down the other side and through the edge of Fox Hollow Golf Course. There is a small section of the trail that is shared with golf carts. In the picture here, golf carts are to stay to the right and cyclists to the left on the path. A view looking to the northwest as the trail descends the east side of the dam through the golf course. You have a view of Mt. Morrison in the distance.
A mirror on one of the sharp corners of the bike path to allow you to see around the corner for any ongoing cyclists.
I continued on past the driving range and clubhouse to the east side of the golf course. A trail map showing the Bear Creek trail system.
The trail winds through a wooded area along Bear Creek. A shot of the trail.
A shot of Bear Creek from a bridge crossing.
The trail continues to meander along the winding Bear Creek until it eventually ends at the Mary Carter Greenway Trail. At this intersection, you can head north along the South Platte River towards downtown Denver or south along the river towards Chatfield Lake. This is about the halfway point of the loop at around 16 miles.
I headed across the bridge crossing the South Platte River and turned south. This is the low point of the loop at 5,277’ A view of the South Platte River at the bridge crossing.
I continued south along the trail, paralleling the South Platte River. Here’s a section of the river where you often seen kayakers but there were none today.
I continued on down the Mary Carter Greenway to connect back up with the C-470 West Trail, approximately 8 miles from the Bear Creek Trail intersection. The elevation here is 5,376’. Just west of the South Platte River you have the option of following the bike path along C-470 or biking into Chatfield State Park.
I usually opt for the ride through Chatfield as it’s a little more scenic. You have a big climb to get to the top of the dam. A self portrait of me with Chatfield Lake in the background.
Connecting back up with the C-470 West Trail, I continued west for the final length of my loop. The sign at Kipling Street, indicating I had another 2.5 miles to go to reach Ken Caryl and my turn off back into my neighborhood.
One final hill as I approached Ken Caryl Avenue.
I turned east off of the C-470 West Trail at Ken Caryl and headed for home. A great loop and a great ride!