One of the benefits and joys of living in or around Denver is the accessibility of the outdoors. It’s so easy to step outside for a breath of fresh air and, better yet, to not rely on a car to get around. In 2017, The League of American Bicyclists ranked Colorado as the 6th best state to bike in. And while Denver has long been known as a bike-friendly city, it was actually nearby Fort Collins that placed first in People for Bike’s most recent ranking of 480 U.S. cities. While a number of associations place Denver lower on biking rankings than you might expect, this shouldn’t make you hesitate to head out on two wheels. Denver and the surrounding region have a number of bike-able neighborhoods and routes that you don’t want to miss out on.
Best Places to Bike around Denver
Whether you just moved to Denver or have been here for years, there are many scenic and convenient cycling routes you should get to know. You can either purchase your own bicycle or, if you’re not a committed cyclist yet, rent a bike share.
Cherry Creek Trail
If you want to get to know the ins and outs of Denver and its surrounding area, check out Cherry Creek Trail. You can cycle from Confluence Park downtown, through neighborhoods like LoDo, Lincoln Park, Belcaro, and Virginia Village to Cherry Creek Reservoir in Aurora.
Platte River Trail
You can head a slightly different direction from Confluence Park down the Platte River Trail. It’s 28.5 miles long and gives you a chance to see a bit of everything – neighborhoods like LoDo, Auraria, Lincoln Park, Baker, and Overland – not to mention gardens, industrial areas, and the Bronco’s Mile High Stadium. You don’t have to do it all at once either. The trail has a north and south section, so you can take your time getting to know it.
Sloan's Lake Trail, Lakewood Gulch Trail, & Washington Park Trail
Take advantage of a clear day on the Sloan’s Lake Trail. If you want to do a bit more than Sloan Lake’s 2.6-mile perimeter, consider biking the Lakewood Gulch Trail first and then traversing a couple of neighborhoods, like West Colfax and Edgewater, to get to Sloan Lake. Or, spend a little time on the Washington Park Trail. It’s known as one of the best bike loops in South Denver.
Scenic Denver & Tech Center Loop
If you are less interested in a paved trail and more interested in getting to know Denver neighborhoods, consider Ride The City’s Scenic Denver or Tech Center Loop routes. For Scenic Denver, go past Washington Park, through the University of Denver, into Englewood and Littleton to end near Chatfield State Park. The Tech Center Loop takes you through Centennial, Greenwood Village, Southglenn, Highland Ranch, Lone Tree, and more just outside of Denver.
Other Biking Options in Denver
With more than 85 miles of paved trail in Denver, not to mention hundreds of miles of the trail outside the city, you will never run out of options. If you’re a little more curious about possible biking routes in and around Denver, check out Bicycle Colorado’s bike maps or the routes and comments on TrailLink. There’s also the City of Denver’s Bike Map.
Putting Biking Safety First
If you’re going to bike around neighborhoods or tackle multi-use trails, you should be prepared. Review Colorado’s Rules of the Road and Rules of the Trail. The Rules of the Road are basic unless you haven’t passed a driver’s exam. You must follow the same rules as vehicles. You should ride in the appropriate lane of traffic, keep to the right as best you can, and follow all traffic signals (though there may be exceptions to this in some areas soon). When you take to a trail, also keep to the right and give pedestrians and skaters the right of way.
About the possible exception to traffic signals, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law enabling municipalities to enact “safety stop” ordinances. This would give cities the right to create local ordinances that allow cyclists to treat stop signs and red lights differently than vehicle drivers. Cyclists often go through or move early on a red light or stop sign to stay safe and remain visible to vehicles. So far, municipalities’ rights to make this legal for cyclists is a grey area in the law, so check with your city on how they plan to implement or enact this law.
Wherever and whenever you are riding, make sure you have on a helmet and are visible. Your bike should have reflectors, and if you are out at night, lights. You may want to invest in bright and reflective clothing. You can find more bicycling resources here.