Top 10 Trails in Colorado

 

Colorado: There are few states as well associated with outdoor recreation as this one—and for good reason. Rocky Mountain State trails offer a variety of phenomenal backdrops: from dramatic mountain peaks to windswept prairies, hot urban destinations to small towns with Old West flair, and everything in between. This is a place where more than 80 percent of residents are estimated to use trails for recreation. Should you be lucky enough to find yourself in Colorado, here are a few can't-miss bike rides.

1

Rio Grande Trail

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Photo by: cpkozak

The windswept beauty of sage brush and scrub oaks, richly scented forests of ponderosa and spruce, verdant crops and ranchlands ringed in jagged mountains and crystal clear rivers: These are the visual postcards of Colorado. The beloved Rio Grande Trail—the longest rail-trail in Colorado—traverses this rich mix of terrains along a 42-mile route (nearly all paved) winding from the famed ski town of Aspen to Glenwood Springs.

2

Platte River Trail

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Photo by: Scott Stark

The Platte River Trail is just one of many of Denver's superb multi-use trails, this one stretching from just north and west of Englewood and heading north toward Henderson. The nearly 29-mile pathway follows the winding Platte River, coursing through both urban landscapes and natural ones, such as the high plains grassland with the Rockies as a backdrop.

3

Cherry Creek Regional Trail

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Photo by: rleppek

From downtown Denver to Franktown, 40 miles to the southeast, the Cherry Creek Regional Trail provides one of the region's most important and picturesque bike routes. Paralleling Cherry Creek, the primarily paved pathway connects the urban center with suburban communities and rural Arapahoe and Douglas counties. Highlights include Denver's Confluence Park, Cherry Creek State Park and Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park.

4

Colorado Riverfront Trail

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Photo by: acewickwire

Starting off with a stunning view of the Colorado National Monument canyons, from the aptly named Monument View Section, the 22-mile Colorado Riverfront Trail soon introduces you to the Walter Walker State Wildlife Area, reaches the Connected Lakes Section and then forks off into two other nature havens. From either the Blue Heron Section or the Audubon Section, you’ll pass by glittering lakes and have the opportunity to spy a variety of birds. The trail reunites again near the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers, and then passes by Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and Butterfly House, and two more large parks before it ends.

5

High Line Canal Trail

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Photo by: Barry Ladwig

Spanning a whopping 71 miles, the High Line Canal Trail is one of the most popular and important trails in the region. Winding between the Denver suburb of Aurora and Roxborough State Park, the canalside pathway connects several parks, including Expo Park with its funky public art, James A. Bible Park, which offers lots of recreational amenities, and Chatfield State Park, which provides a beautiful escape into nature for city dwellers with camping, hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities.

6

Pikes Peak Greenway Trail

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Photo by: 8 wheel transit

Extending outwards from Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail offers a pleasant journey along Monument and Fountain creeks. Dramatic views of Pikes Peak and other mountains in the distance enhance the scenery of the 16-mile route. With a variety of surfaces, the pathway is never boring and provides direct access to a number of parks, including Monument Valley Park, Boddington Park and the America the Beautiful Park, which make for great stops along your ride.

7

Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail

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Photo by: auerbach_j

Photos of the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail will drop your jaw. Closely hugging the Colorado River through a deep canyon, the 14-mile pathway between Glenwood Springs and Dotsero is a stunner. Look for bighorn sheep along the rocky walls as you pedal the paved pathway, and wave to the people floating by on this pristine stretch of river.

8

Mineral Belt Trail

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Photo by: acewickwire

If the Mile High City isn't quite high enough for you, check out Leadville, nicknamed Cloud City for its 10,000+ feet elevation. Circling the city in a picturesque loop is the Mineral Belt Trail, offering 12 miles of pavement with awesome views of the Sawatch and Mosquito mountain ranges, conifer forests, aspen groves and wildflower meadows. As its name might suggest, Leadville was once a thriving mining town, and historical displays along the trail tell its tale.

9

Ten Mile Canyon Recpath

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Photo by: acewickwire

Traveling adjacent to Tenmile Creek and within sight of the many forested peaks of the Tenmile Range, the Ten Mile Canyon Recpath offers one pretty view after another. Begin at Copper Mountain, a ski resort on the trail's southern end, for a downhill roll to Frisco on the shores of Dillon Reservoir.

10

New Santa Fe Regional Trail

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Photo by: Scott Stark

The New Santa Fe Regional Trail provides a scenic journey along the Front Range, beginning north of Colorado Springs and continuing north for 20 miles to Palmer Lake. Along the way you'll find interpretive signs, wildlife and interesting geological features, not to mention incredible views—in particular Pikes Peak.

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