Bicycles are a common sight on Fall River Road and surrounding roadways in Estes Park where several kinds of rides – mountain, road and paved path – are available to fair weather visitors. Bring your own wheels or visit one of the two excellent cycling shops in town that offer bicycle rentals, repairs, tours, gear and more. You can plan your own outing or tour with a guide at Estes Park Mountain Shop http://estesparkmountainshop.com/ (970) 586 – 6548 | (866) 303 – 6548 or at New Venture Cycling http://www.newventurecycling.com/ (970) 231-2736. Both offer guided tours, expert advice, and top-notch equipment.
Off-Road Mountain Biking Roosevelt National Forest offers the most abundant opportunities for Mountain Biking as dozens of trails cover hundreds of miles in this preserved area. Pedal through pine-filled forests, across open grasslands and into terrain studded with rocks and hills. East of town, Pole Hill, also popular with ATV riders, is located just off 36, around mile marker 2. Ride here with care as epic boulders seem to appear out of nowhere on this nearly single track steep uphill climb. Hang in – the ride back down fast and thrilling!
Almost exactly across the street from Pole Hill, is Hermit Park Open Space, a Larimer County recreation area with access to the national forest trails. In addition to camping, cabins and hiking, mountain bikers can access the bike-friendly Homestead Meadows Connector Trail. This trail is 1.1 mile within Hermit Park, connecting to 12 miles of national forest trail. Find additional information, including maps, directions and access fees at Larimer.org.
The one sweet spot for mountain biking enthusiasts in Rocky Mountain National Park is Old Fall River Road. Once open for the summer, this is a cars-only, one-way gravel road that climbs to the Alpine Visitor Center. However, mountain bikers flock to the switchbacks before and after the seasonal vehicle period to take advantage of the amazing views and unique terrain.
Remember: Trail bikes, mopeds, and bicycles are only allowed on established roads in Rocky Mountain National Park. Stick to the nearby National Forests for off-road trails and backcountry cycling.
Road Biking There are 60 miles (97 km) of hard-surfaced road with a five to seven percent grade to challenge and delight any rider. Highlights include Trail Ridge Road which offers road riders the experience of a lifetime with beautiful scenery, challenging altitude, switchbacks, curves, and hills where cyclists can let it out and fly. Do try to keep your tires on the road! Trail Ridge Road is typically open between Memorial Day and mid-October. Check the current status of the road at 970-586-1222.
Other options for a challenging ride include the downhill slope from Estes Park to Drake (about 12 miles) which also provides an amazing uphill climb back to town. Highway 7, the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, features long climbs and fast downhill coasts with mountain side, panoramic views. Fall River Road is a steady uphill climb that culminates at Endovalley Road. Take a break before coasting back to town to enjoy a picnic in one of the lovely riverside meadows.
Road Warriors and drivers alike are advised to share the road – ride single file, signal and use proper turn lanes, and ride the way you drive – with caution and courtesy especially on steep and winding mountain roads where shoulders can be narrow or non-existent. Bicycles are allowed only on park roads (not trails or foot paths). Remember: Commonly accepted mountain road courtesy calls for slower traffic to pull over and stop to allow congestion behind to pass where appropriate shoulder space is available. Keep in mind when planning: Summer is “chip and seal” season. The work often leaves loose, fine rock on the road that can be very hazardous to cyclists.
Be aware! Remember to inspect brakes for worn cables and pads as descents may exceed 20 miles (32.2 km) and elevation losses of 4,000 feet (1,219 km). Carry tools and spare parts. Make yourself visible! Wear Helmets; brightly-colored layers and waterproof clothing. Remember to carry food and to carry and drink lots of water.
Be prepared! You may ride solo or in groups in Rocky where entrance fees do apply. A weekly permit is $10 per bicycle. Any bicycle group of more than 25 riders (including non-commercial and commercial) must contact the park Concession Office at 970-586-1209 for information on regulations, conditions, and permit requirements for cycling in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Be safe! It is important to consider that Park roads have narrow or no shoulders and are often congested with heavy traffic. Minimize conflicts with vehicles – Ride in the early morning hours when it is less busy, cooler, and safer on the road. Try to be off the road in late afternoon when mountain thunderstorms and lightening create serious road biking hazards.
Leisure Bike Trails Cruisers and families will appreciate the paved Lake Estes Bike Path. The ride is challenging without being overwhelming and the views are lovely. Thanks to nearby bike rentals www.estesparkmountainshop and the ease of the route, even novices and young riders will be able to complete the picturesque 3.75-mile loop around the lake.
Cyclists looking for an extended ride can take the Lake Trail South, under the highway and through Stanley Park. This route continues south along Fish Creek, where cyclists can head west along the ponds at the Carriage Hills neighborhood, or continue south along Fish Creek to explore the beaver dams.
The Lake Estes Trail also connects with the downtown River Walk, where cyclists are asked to hop off and walk the bike through the busy pedestrian area. West past the downtown area cyclists can pick up the paved trail or ride the shoulder on up the scenic Fall River Road.
Bike Estes https://www.bikeestes.org/ gives visitors group riding options. Enthusiasts may enjoy taking a Saturday morning Show-n-Go Ride. The group meets at Kind Coffee, located at 470 E. Elkhorn Ave, at 7:00 a.m. Route length and difficulty varies. There’s always spectacular scenery and great company! Ride rain or shine! Saturday mornings from May 23 – Sept 5. For more info please visit https://www.bikeestes.org/activity/saturday-morning-show-n-go-rides/2015-07-05/ or Group Rides https://www.bikeestes.org/category/group-rides/