Feature Image: Bear Creek Park bridge over full summer creek.
Lakewood, Colorado is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. From hikers to mountain bikers, there are plenty of trails in the area that cater to any skill level.
In this article, we will cover five of the best trails in Lakewood. These include: Trail No 1: Hayden Park on Green Mountain, No 2: Bear Creek Lake Park; and more!!
We hope you enjoy reading about these great trails and exploring them on your next visit to Lakewood or as a new resident. All of our Neighborhood Series articles are written personally by the Nathan Mortgage team, a Lakewood Mortgage Lender.
Difficulty: Blue / Intermediate
The William F. Hayden Green Mountain Park at the western edge of Lakewood, Colorado is one of the most well-known trail systems in Denver. Offering 158 miles of trail (though the amount of singletrack is much less than that), Green Mountain is a great place to start a Lakewood biking adventure.
The trails are mostly hardpack dirt and friendly to newer riders, but there are some alternative lines and features to mix things up for the more experienced. COMBA (Colorado Mountain Biking Association) has worked hard to cut in new trails, such as the Hayden Reroute which is a nice downhill rip. The appropriately-named Box of Rocks is a good challenge up or down, due to the numerous “baby heads” littering the trail.
Green Mountain can be combined with the Bear Creek or Apex trail systems via the paved 470 trail to make a much larger, more challenging ride. Check out Mountain Bike Project for routing information.
When to Ride: Great for a short spin, especially early in the morning before it gets busy.
Good to know: The trail system is exposed with little shade. Plan accordingly and bring sunscreen and plenty of water, even in spring or fall.
Pros: Easy to reach, great for training in the cold months
Cons: Super busy on weekends!
Bear Creek Lake Park is nestled beside the Fox Hollow Golf Course in Lakewood and features a good mix of beginner-friendly trails the whole family can enjoy. Some trails run alongside Bear Creek, through trees, and beside the reservoir. There’s much more than biking at Bear Creek, including campsites, boating, fishing, equestrian activities, hiking, and much more.
The trails are almost entirely smooth dirt, with a few slightly technical sections on the climb of “mount” Carbon. The top of Carbon gives great views of Dakota Ridge to the west, and Denver to the east. There are small trail sections of no more than a mile or two that are great for kids. The main loop is about 7 miles in length and offers a modest challenge for newer riders.
When to Ride: Morning and evening are especially beautiful along the creek
Good to know: Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood charges a $10 entry fee. However, there are numerous ways into the park on bike or foot. Avoid parking on the side of Alameda, and instead park at the large lot at the corner of 470 and Alameda and pedal into the park through the access trail on the south side of Alameda.
Pros: Great for a full day of adventuring with all ages and ability levels
Cons: $10 entry fee + very busy on weekends
While North Table Mountain isn’t in Lakewood, it’s just a few short miles away from 6th Avenue and 470 and offers some of the best intermediate mountain biking in the area. Three trailheads give different starting points and varied rides, but most riders start from the western trailhead off of 93 in Golden.
Riders have a tough choice to make at the outset: grind up a 10-12% grade gravel road climb to get to the top of the “table”, or head northeast for a more gradual climb, but less-enjoyable decent. Most prefer to get the pain out of the way and crush pedals to the top of the mesa.
Once up, the trail has a great mixture of flowing hard pack and rocky, technical bits that will keep intermediate riders on their toes. The full loop is just under 10 miles, but additional trails on top the mesa can add an extra 7-9 miles of riding for those looking for a longer ride.
When to Ride: Like most of the front range, the trails are exposed, and get extremely hot in the summer months. Early morning or later in the day cut down on the heat.
Good to know: The parking lot can fill up on the weekends, but you can park on the shoulder of 93, or park in Golden and bike to the trailhead. Can be combined with Apex or Chimney Gulch for a much more adventurous day in the saddle.
Pros: Great payoff for the climbs – some sweet downhill and technical sections.
Cons: Did we mention the murderous road climb to start?
Apex Park just outside of Lakewood, is possibly the most well-known and popular place to mountain bike in the front range. Weekends during warm months are packed, so get there early if you want to let it rip on the downs. Chimney Gulch is adjacent to Apex, and is commonly linked up with Apex to make a larger loop.
Apex offers some single-direction trails, so pay attention to the signage as park rangers will ticket you for going against the flow. Some trails are reserved for bikes only or hikers / equestrian use only on certain days as well, so check the webpage before heading out to make sure you don’t waste a drive to the trailhead.
Enchanted Forest is just that – one of the best downhill flow trails near Lakewood, and one of the “must rides” in the front range. Chimney Gulch is best ridden downhill, and has enough technical features and jagged rocks to make things very interesting, especially on a shorter-travel bike. Ride within your limits and know your lines before going full speed. Nathan has seen more than a few downed riders on Chimney!
When to Ride: Ridable almost all year except for the highest elevations, Apex is a great mix of routes and options.
Good to know: Park rangers are not messing around and will ticket you for breaking the park rules.
Pros: Some of the best downhill in Lakewood
Cons: Some trails are limited to single-direction (a pro for mountain bike riders!) and others are alternating day use. Plan accordingly and come when the trails are MTB-friendly!
Dakota Ridge near Dinosaur Ridge is not a long trail, but it is one of the very toughest in Lakewood. It features relentless technical climbs, drops, rock features and sharp, punchy climbs that will challenge even experienced and fit riders. Dakota Ridge is a playground of tech, a great place to session features and build skill.
Dakota Ridge can be linked up to Green Mountain or Bear Creek which are both only a few miles away or combined with Mathew Winters or even Apex for a much, much longer ride.
Good to know: The last portion of the trail is a single-direction lollipop. Pay attention to the signs. There’s a few large drops, and some washout that can be sketchy. If it’s your first time through, take your time and learn the features before pushing speed.
Pros: Rugged. Relentless. Great views. A real physical challenge.
Cons: Same as the pros!
Ready for more? Read Neighborhood Series: Recreation in Lakewood next!