Mountain biking is often portrayed as a sport for thrill-seekers adrenaline junkies, who throw themselves down hair-raising slopes where danger lurks around every corner. The front range has plenty of avenues to satisfy those hunger pangs.
But many mountain bikers aren’t inspired to test themselves on Lookout Mountain’s Apex Trail, for example, or at White Ranch Park in the foothills west of Arvada, both climbing hundreds of feet over rocky terrain and where downhill crashes can be serious. can be severely punished. Some simply prefer pleasant off-road riding, while others are looking for good places to learn important skills before testing themselves in more intimidating terrain.
The front range also has a lot to offer.
Jay Bollinger of Golden is an avid mountain biker who used those many gentler trails to introduce his 13-year-old son, Isaac, to the sport. Now, Isaac is an avid mountain biker looking forward to running high school, and his 8-year-old brother, Sam, is also joining dad on the trails. Bollinger helped us compile a list of trails that are comfortable for beginners and those who want to ride without intimidating themselves.
“Mountain biking is my passion and something I’ve really loved over the past twenty-some years,” Bollinger said. “These are the avenues where I can share that love with my boys. If you can do the things you love with the people you love, that’s for the best.”
We were also helped out by Natalie Rabourne, a mountain-biking coach based in Evergreen. She is the race director of Betty Bike Bash, a Team Evergreen race that aims to introduce more women to the sport in a setting that isn’t intimidating. This event is held annually in October at Lakewood’s. is held in Bear Creek Lake ParkThe , called both Bollinger and Raborn, is ideal for beginners and those who prefer not to be intimidated on the bike. There are some fun climbs, but nothing challenging.
“There are no intimidating rock features or drops,” said Raborn. “It’s beautiful, but it’s still challenging enough that you feel like you’re mountain biking, not just riding on a dirt road. You’ve got good visibility there, so you don’t have to come around a corner and have a good time.” There’s no need to stress about running into another biker or hiker. You really can’t get lost, which is sometimes intimidating for beginners, and there’s cellphone service. There’s all that stuff you might not think It’s a big deal, but it’s one of a kind when you’re starting out.”
Bear Creek Lake Park is also a beautiful natural setting and, after all, it is one of the main attractions of mountain biking compared to road cycling. It takes you closer to nature.
“There’s so much wilderness and open space in Colorado where you can be a little bit more isolated from society,” Raborn said. “You’re really in nature, so you’re more likely to see animals and ride by streams. You can connect more to the outdoors. It further adds to the mental and physical challenge, because you’re not just moving the machine.” Stretching. It provides a full-body workout, so you’re conditioning your core and your upper body more than you would typically do on a road bike.”
In or near the foothills, here are some other unexplored mountain biking destinations to consider:
South Table Mountain Park: There are several trailheads to climb this mesa in Golden. The easiest routes are from Quaker Street, Golden Hills Road, or Camp George West Park on the south side of Mesa. All three routes offer moderate climbs of a few hundred feet or more to the top of the mesa, with miles of relatively flat trails with great views, especially on the east and west sides of the mesa.
South Valley Park: It is one of Bollinger’s favorites among the Front Range’s easy mountain-biking destinations, due to the beautiful rock formations found there. It is located just west of Hogback, south of Cane Carill, and north of Deer Creek Canyon Road.
Green Mountain (Hayden Park): Located on the west side of Lakewood, there are some good trails for beginners around the perimeter of the mountain that are best accessed from a trailhead on Rooney Road. The trails to the top are not technical, but require 800 feet of climbing to reach the summit. There are other trailheads located along the Alameda Parkway.
Marshall Mesa: Located south of Boulder, east of Colorado 93, Mesa has good rides, and the trails there connect to a trail system on the other side of Highway 93 with some easy rides that include Community Ditch and Dowdy Draw. Another option: From Marshall Mesa, head south through the Greenbelt Plateau and cross Highway 93 to Flatiron Vista.
Elderfer / Three Sisters Park: This park near Evergreen has generally flat trails and a good variety of spectacular scenery. “There are some technical spots that are hike-a-bike (places where riders get off the bike for a while), but you don’t have the classic front range of a thousand feet of climbs and descents,” Bollinger said. “It’s a network of trails that you can explore.”
Hildebrand Ranch Park: Both Bollinger and Raborne recommended this park, which is near South Valley Ranch but on the east side of Hogback near Chatfield Reservoir.
Elk Meadow Park: Located south of Bergen Park and north of Evergreen, there are some good trails here for beginners. Just leave the Bergen Peak Trail (which climbs 1,700 feet in less than 3 miles) to the experts.
Flying J Ranch Park: Located near Conifers, Raborne recommends it as a nice place to get out of town and take a ride. “Not heavily trafficked by bikers,” said Raborne, “but very beginner-friendly.”
Final Note: Novice mountain bikers should educate themselves on trail etiquette. Etiquette and communication are important, especially on single-track trails, but there is an accepted hierarchy of when riders approach each other. Mountain bikers are expected to yield to all other users – hikers, runners and horseback riders – and when two mountain bikers approach each other, downhill riders must bow to uphill riders.
There’s another important rule: “It’s never acceptable to ride off the mark,” said Rabourne. “If you can’t pass another rider with you both while on the trail, then one or both of you need to stop.”
Subscribe to The Adventureist, our weekly newsletter, to have outside news delivered straight to your inbox.