Denver, Colorado, is an adventurer's playground, with its surrounding mountains providing ample opportunities for hiking, climbing, skiing, whitewater rafting, and just about everything in between. In the summer, Denverites take to the many bike trails dotted around their high-altitude oasis. The city (and surrounds) is peppered with scenic bike paths and off-the-beaten-path trails that you can explore solo or with the local cycling community, robust as it is. Better yet, rent a bike (or borrow one from B-Cycle) and join in one of the festive group rides. Offering everything from beginner-friendly urban paths to advanced mountain biking routes, Denver is a bike lover's paradise.
Showcasing the city as much as the surrounding mountains, this 14.5-mile trail is a two-for-one deal. At the entrance into Morrison, you'll be treated to views of the famous Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater. You can even pedal up those red rocks to enjoy some great views of the city.
The paved path weaves through Morrison, Lakewood, Sheridan, and Denver, crossing through neighborhoods and past parks and golf courses. You can even extend your ride by hitting the Platte River Trail that joins up along the way. Turn this bike ride into a day trip by visiting the Colorado Music Hall of Fame inside Red Rocks and grabbing a rooftop beer and lunch at the Ship Rock Grille.
You'll get a history lesson on this 28.5-mile trail. The Colorado Historical Society has set up 20-some historical signs along the route ranging in topic from Native Americans to railroads to local wildlife. This trail starts south of Denver in Englewood, travels through downtown, and stretches up toward Henderson. Along the Denver portion of the ride, you'll come across Riverside Cemetery, a 77-acre cemetery where Denver’s early pioneers and mayors are buried, and My Brother’s Bar, once a watering hole for beatniks like Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. If you have children in tow, stop by the Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus.
The Denver Cruiser Ride is fun to watch and even more fun to participate in. This group bike ride tradition started between a few friends in 2005 and has been picking up momentum since. The monthly, weeknight rides happen from mid-May to mid-September and each one has a different theme (such as "bubble wrap, duct tape, and cardboard").
You can choose to meet up with the group at Illegal Pete’s on South Broadway, Monkey Barrel Brewing, Be on Key, The Ginn Mill, or Little Machine Beer (there's a lot of beer involved, by the way). The riders convene at 8:15 p.m. and end up in a secret spot for an after-party. It's free to ride, but you can purchase a membership to Denver Cruiser Ride for $20 per year, which will also get you a bike license plate and deal card.
This is Denver’s version of New York City’s Central Park. At 165 acres, Washington Park is also one of the largest parks in Denver. If you’re arriving to the park on a bike, you can access it from the Platte River trail from the south.
Whether you’re on a road bike or a cruiser, you can loop around the 2.25-mile perimeter at Washington Park (or “Wash Park” as locals call it), which is filled with flower gardens, a playground, and two lakes. You’ll be sharing the paved path with runners, walkers, and the occasional roller skater as well.
After you've worked up a sweat, you can go shopping in the nearby Wash Park neighborhood. South Gaylord Street is six blocks east of Washington Park in between Mississippi and Tennessee Avenues, and is lined with boutiques, coffee shops, and art galleries. Pop into Devil's Food for tasty, homemade pastries.
Cherry Creek Bike Path
You can hop on this trail at Confluence Park, which is where Cherry Creek and the South Platte River combine. In its entirety, this bike path stretches for more than 40 miles, running into Franktown.
Locals love to ride along this path, which passes through the Cherry Creek Shopping District. The district includes the Cherry Creek Mall, but there’s also high-end boutiques and galleries in the shopping district. Another worthy stop on this trail is the Four Mile House & Historic Park, which was once an old stagecoach stop. Today, it’s a quaint, 12-acre park with a museum where you can learn about Denver’s early settlers.
If you're up for a long ride, you can follow the Cherry Creek Bike Path all the way to Castlewood Canyon State Park to marvel at remnants of the Castlewood Dam, which sent a 15-foot-high wave of water into Denver when it burst in 1933.
Just a few miles west of downtown is Sloan’s Lake, a massive body of water bordered by city streets. Until recently, it was mostly a destination for the annual Dragon Boat Festival, but the up-and-coming neighborhood has brought with it new breweries and shops. After you take a couple laps around the 2.8-mile loop that circles the 177-acre park, head across the street to Edgewater for a slice of pizza at an old staple, Edgewater Inn, a family restaurant that’s been around for six decades.
You can take your bike on a couple of different loops in City Park, which is next to the Denver Zoo. The mini Ferril Lake loop is just shy of a mile and loops around the park’s central lake. The Mile High Loop encompasses more of the park and is 3.1 miles long. It’s called the Mile High Loop because it’s perched at exactly 5,280 feet. Conveniently, there’s a B-Cycle rental station near the Denver Zoo or, for fun, you can rent tandem and big-wheeled bikes from Wheel Fun Rentals, which has an outpost in the park.