Southwest Denver Bike Loop

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
Difficulty: Moderate
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.

Bike Loop-Trail Sign

A view looking north of the bike path dropping down into Bear Creek Park.

Bike Loop-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.

Bike Loop-Bear Creek Lake

A self-portrait along the Bear Creek Trail.

Bike Loop-Self Portrait

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.

Bike Loop-Path at golf course

A mirror on one of the sharp corners of the bike path to allow you to see around the corner for any ongoing cyclists.

Bike Loop-Corner Mirror

Bike Loop-Corner Mirror

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.

Bike Loop-Bear Creek Map

The trail winds through a wooded area along Bear Creek.  A shot of the trail.

Bike Loop-Bear Creek Trail

A shot of Bear Creek from a bridge crossing.

Bike Loop-Bear Creek

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.

Bike Loop-Mary Carter Greenway Sign

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.

Bike Loop-South Platte

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.

Bike Loop-South Platte River

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.

Bike Loop-Trail Sign

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.

Bike Loop-Self Portrait

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.

Bike Loop-Trail Sign

One final hill as I approached Ken Caryl Avenue.

Bike Loop-bike path

I turned east off of the C-470 West Trail at Ken Caryl and headed for home.  A great loop and a great ride!

6 thoughts on “Southwest Denver Bike Loop

  1. These are great pictures! I’m quite jealous of your views. I’ve never been to Denver, and seeing these pictures really, really make me want to plan a trip there!

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed and thanks for reading. I hope you do plan a trip to Denver and Colorado some day – the views are spectacular.

  2. Always enjoy a ride off the main roads and away from the traffic. In the UK we make good use of our old disused railway lines to make rural cycle ways, great for families

    • That’s great. We’ve done the same in places here in the US – turning old railway lines into cycling paths. I much prefer cycling on paths where I don’t have to worry about traffic – makes the ride much more pleasant.

  3. This is a lovely ride you have been on. We have a saying in Danish: ‘Der er højt til loftet’ – there is a lot of space under the ceiling meaning the view is spectacular.
    All the best,
    Hanna

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