A Two-Wheeled Tour
During fair weather in Colorado, bicycles sometimes seem as plentiful as automobiles...or dogs...or craft brews-all of which contribute to the culture of the state's mountain communities. Estes Park presents several kinds of rides-mountain bike, road and paved path.
For mountain biking trails in Estes Park, Roosevelt National Forest offers the most abundant opportunities, as Rocky Mountain National Park doesn't allow mountain biking on their trails. Dozens of trails cover hundreds of miles in this preserved area. Pedal through pine-filled forests, across open grasslands and into terrain studded with rocks and hills. An intermediate favorite that's also popular with ATV enthusiasts: Pole Hill. Ride the loops here with care; epic boulders show up unexpectedly around curves. The descents on this almost-single track will leave you breathless and delighted.
East of Estes Park about two miles is Hermit Park Open Space, a Larimer County recreation area with access to the national forest trails. In addition to camping, cabins and hiking, mountain bikers can access the bike-friendly Homestead Meadows Connector Trail. This trail is 1.1 mile within Hermit Park, connecting to 12 miles of national forest trail. Find additional information, including maps, directions and access fees at Larimer.org.
The one sweet spot for mountain biking enthusiasts in Rocky Mountain National Park is Old Fall River Road. Once open for the summer, this is a cars-only, one-way gravel road that climbs to the Alpine Visitor Center. However, mountain bikers flock to the switchbacks before and after the seasonal vehicle period to take advantage of the amazing views and unique thrills.
Just as Sunday drivers appreciate the scenic drives around Estes Park, so do cyclists. Often cars and bikes share the same routes, each admiring the scenery, but bicyclists also appreciate the architecture of the road. Ups and downs, switchbacks, and narrow lanes all make for exciting rides. A family favorite coasts mostly downhill from Estes Park to Drake for roughly 12 miles. More advanced cyclists also like pedaling south on Highway 7, part of the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, for a roller coaster push that rewards with incredible scenery.
Road cyclists and cycling clubs often explore the roads in Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail Ridge Road offers thrill-seekers an experience of a lifetime. Trail Ridge Road is typically open between Memorial Day and mid-October. Check the current status of the road by calling 970-586-1222. Cyclists should be cautious in the national park, as many roads are narrow and shoulders are often absent.
Leisure Bike Trails
Fans of cruiser bikes appreciate the Lake Estes Bike Path because they don't have to compete with cars, the views are stunning, and they can pedal at a leisurely pace. Thanks to nearby bike rentals and the ease of the route, out-of-town families often turn the picturesque 3.75-mile loop into a pleasant outing that even youngsters enjoy.
Those looking for an extended ride can take the lake trail south, under the highway and through Stanley Park. This route continues south along Fish Creek, where cyclists can head west along the ponds at the Carriage Hills neighborhood, or continue south along Fish Creek to explore the beaver dams.
The Lake Estes Trail also connects with the downtown River Walk, where cyclists are asked to hop off & walk. The slower pace lasts just a few blocks and allows riders to take in the beautiful flower beds, stop for a bite or grab some additional gear. West past the downtown area cyclists can mount up and continue along the scenic Fall River, where the trail meets up with many riverside lodging properties.