Friday, January 17, 2020

Ride: Cherry Creek

Denver's nickname is "The Mile High City", which, while lower than some other cities, is pretty high up.  If you're from lower lands, riding around the city can be pretty tough.  Luckily, there's a nice, generally flat trail that follows a stream from downtown all the way out into the countryside beyond the surrounding suburbs.

Cherry Creek is a stream that starts out in the hills south of Denver, flowing north toward the city.  It winds through the surrounding land, through the suburbs, and through Denver itself, eventually emptying into the South Platte River near the spot where the city of Denver was originally founded in the mid 1800s.  Today, the juncture of these two streams is marked by Confluence Park, and is the northern end of the Cherry Creek Trail.  Nearly all of its 40 miles are paved, and it generally runs below street level.  This makes the trail pleasant to ride on with few street crossings to worry about.  In the downtown section, there are plenty of exits to city streets, and in the suburban areas there are numerous branch trails that lead to local neighborhoods.  The trail is easy to get to, and great for getting from one end of town to the other.

If you start out on the northern end of the trail, you'll quickly transition from the downtown buildings to the relative seclusion of the trail itself.  Heading south, you make a slow, gradual climb, following the stream back towards its headwaters.  Along the way, the surrounding land transitions from tall buildings into houses, passing the Denver Country Club golf course, Cherry Creek Mall, and a variety of other sights along the way.  These include a number of parks that make nice places to get off the trail and hang out for a while.

If you go far enough, you'll eventually hit the Cherry Creek Reservoir dam, part of Cherry Creek State Park.  Here you'll find what is probably the single largest climb of the trip: riding up to the top of the dam.  After that, it's back to creekside riding all of the way out of town.  As the trail becomes more rural, it also becomes more wild: more street crossings, more patches that aren't paved, and fewer places to hop off.  Eventually you'll hit the end of the trail: the pavement just ends in the middle of nowhere, leaving you to turn around and contemplate your route home.

The Cherry Creek Trail is great for a simple ride through the city, a long ride into the country, or commuting from one end of town to the other.  Along the way, you'll see a lot of other bikers, joggers, and walkers (particularly in the downtown area), numerous parks, and various small rocky waterfalls.  The trail is a pleasant way to get around town, and is a great way to spend a lazy summer afternoon.  Explore it on the Wireless Bike Map.

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