›› My bike was happy to see me after all these months. The feeling was mutual. When I-70 loads up with Nebraska skiers making it almost impossible to enjoy Colorado’s incomparable spring days, my faithful 1976 Schwinn Paramount starts scratching at the door to be let outside.
This, my friends, is prime time for biking along the Front Range. To review: There is no better place on Earth to ski. There is no better place on Earth to hike and camp. And right now, there is no better spot on the planet to saddle up whatever kind of two-wheel mount you’ve got, and get out there.
Colorado, and especially Metro Aurora, is the center of the biking universe because there are happy, rewarding, thrilling and fulfilling options for everyone. I mean everyone. The city is bursting with paved trails your 4-year-old kid can love and master as much as your 98-year-old granny. The trails are paved, dirt, winding, shaded, sunny, rural, urban, accessible, easy, hard and anything else. If city riding isn’t your thing, there are 104,000 square miles of whatever you can imagine to roll over here in Colorado.
But let’s start here. Here is one of the Front Range’s most precious gems: The High Line Canal. If you haven’t been on a bike since “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” premiered, you’re going to love a place to ride that’s as flat as Homer’s Earth, curvy like an English country road and just as scenic. Even if you power up Lookout Mountain every other weekend as a warm-up to pedaling all the way to Central City, you’re going to love this trail just as much.
This ride, which can last a few minutes or for a few hours, is all about those less-yellow sun rays of April on your face and the calming sound of a chain rolling through a derailleur. The 66 miles of mostly paved trail along this historic monument is all about Zen.
The trail starts at the mouth of Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver. It’s an antique marvel of engineering. Created in the 1880s to move water from the South Platte River out to Aurora and beyond, the canal was dug along a line that loses only 132 feet in elevation from the foothills to Green Valley Ranch along 66 miles of ditch that spans only about 30 linear miles. That’s a lot of cool curves covered by ancient cottonwood trees. The canal is populated by a veritable zoo-full of Colorado wildlife, including some pretty rare birds. That makes dawn and dusk rides especially rewarding. It’s a relatively slow, super-easy spin that you can start in numerous places. The pleasure is in what makes Colorado
biking so grand: Eden-like temperatures, friendly people and the satisfaction in generating endorphins without shin splints.
Whether you wouldn’t be caught dead with helmet hair anywhere but inside your car or whether getting off the saddle and into something cool to drink is your style, this urban track offers it all. See that sky? The classic Aurora ride beckons you to get off the couch, back in the saddle and ready for more to come.
The High Line Canal Trail
66 miles beginning from Waterton Road in southwest Denver to Green Valley Ranch
Access in Aurora is from Expo Park, Highline Park and City Center Park, Aurora city hall, DeLaney Farm, Norfolk Glen Park, and Star K Ranch; as well as numerous points along the trail
Shared by bikers, walkers, joggers, an occasional skater and some horseback riders
Little gain in elevation along the trail, winding and paved all through Aurora and into Denver until Colorado Boulevard. Then paved or dirt alternating up to the canyon mouth. Easy ride for any level of biker.
Plenty of access to public shops, cafes and park restrooms all along the trail