Get Out: Ten Beginner Mountain Bike Trails Near Denver
With its high elevation and steep, rocky terrain, Colorado isn’t the easiest place to learn to mountain bike. But as long as you’re familiar with bike tag, know where to go and don’t worry about a few bumps and bruises, then you’re on the right track. Start building your confidence on these ten beginner mountain bike trails near Denver:
Shadow Pine Loop
3.9 mile loop
Shadow Pine Loop is the best mountain bike trail for kids, although beginners of all ages will find it fun and rewarding. The lollipop loop is in Flying J Park, easily accessible from Route 285. Although you may hear some road traffic the first mile, quiet scenery awaits further down the trail. Admire wildflowers and groves of raspberries as you navigate the gentle climb and easy descent.
Sleepy “S” Trail
3 miles out and back
The beginner-friendly Sleepy “S” trail winds through a scenic meadow and ponderosa pine forest. It’s a less populated area of Elk Meadow Park – which, unsurprisingly, is home to a herd of elk. Watch for wildlife as you pedal along this wide, hilly trail that gradually gains in elevation. Keep in mind that the route is lightly shaded, so bring sun protection and, as always, plenty of water.
Staunton Ranch Trail
7.4 miles round trip
Staunton State Park offers endless outdoor recreation, from rock climbing to waterfall hikes and mountain biking trails. Staunton Ranch Trail is very popular with visitors, but the wide dual carriageway makes navigation doable. You will cycle through a forest of conifers and aspens, with leaves appearing along the way. Turn around at the top of the road or continue on other beginner trails like Trumpet Moose and lion’s back. Taking both extensions will add four miles to your round trip distance.
Buckle of two brands
5 mile loop
Take your bike to Hildebrand Ranch Park, a spacious preserve located just thirty minutes from downtown Denver. You wouldn’t guess it was so close, as the landscape of meadows and mountains seems worlds away from the city. This beginner loop is rarely busy and plenty of parking is available. Counterclockwise, the first mile and a half gains a considerable elevation of 400 feet. But from there it’s smooth sailing on fun downhill singletrack.
Fisherman and Mont Carbone Loop
4.6 mile loop
Bear Creek Lake Park is “one of the hidden gems of the local mountain biking scene,” describes Colorado Mountain Bike Association advisory board member Andrew Goodwillie. Happy trails are abundant in this Lakewood oasis, and Mount Carbon is a local favorite. All in all a great choice for beginners, although you may need to disassemble for a few tricky sections. Know your abilities and enjoy the ride!
0.7 mile point to point
Erie Singletrack at Sunset Open Space attracts riders of all skill levels, and the Green Line is the perfect place to hone your new skills. Small jumps and berms, which are banked turns that support the flow of riders, are found on this singletrack. Given its short distance, take a few laps during your visit or check out the full 3.9 miles Beginner tower which combines four fun and sweet tracks.
Flatirons Vista Loop
3.5 mile loop
This Front Range hiking and mountain biking destination is no secret to locals. expect to share the trail, especially on weekends. It’s worth navigating through the crowds, as the scenery here is absolutely stunning. Pedal counter-clockwise for the best views of the Flatirons and the surrounding meadow. Note that this area requires paid parking; bring $5 cash or download the mobile app at the trailhead.
song of the coyotes at Grazing Elk Loop
5.5 mile loop
At South Valley Park, you’ll find hikers, fellow bikers, and great views within an hour of Denver. Take in the red sandstone formations and views of the Ken Caryl Valley as you wind your way through dual and single tracks. The full recommended route is 5.5 miles long, but with multiple parking areas, you can take either trail. Keep in mind that this area can get very busy, so know your bike tag and don’t be a trail jerk.
Waterton Canyon Trail
12.6 miles round trip
Although a bit long, Waterton Canyon Trail is a great choice for beginner mountain bikers. The gravel road runs alongside the South Platte River, steadily rising in elevation. There is a lot of traffic, but the path is wide enough to accommodate other cyclists and hikers. You’ll also likely see other people fishing in the area, as well as plenty of wildlife like bighorn sheep, mule deer, and sometimes even black bears. Keep your distance and enjoy the view.
3 mile loop
You’ll find several beginner routes on South Table Mountain, including the popular Lava Loop. There are different ways to access this trail, but for the easiest and most direct method, park at the land on Quaker Street. Short segments of the Fossil and Old Quarry trails lead to the Lava Loop entrance. From there, the singletrack offers gentle climbs and descents, with an occasional rocky section to develop your technical skills.