A combination of grindy climbing, more than a bit of road riding, shout-out-loud singletrack descending and even a touch of intermediate-level gnar. Finish up with beverages in Morrison and you've got a demanding, varied ride that anyone can feel good about accomplishing.
The Mt. Falcon climb offers almost no tree shade and positively bakes on warm days. It's also extremely popular with hikers, and the same can be said for most of the Bear Creek singletrack. Do this one on a weekday morning for maximum enjoyment.
From the Mt. Falcon parking lot, you'll get a minimal warmup before the long grind on the Castle Rock trail begins. The grade isn't too steep but there are enough of water bars, tight switchbacks and rock fields to make this a demanding climb.
About halfway up, a hard lefthand turn (with just a touch of tree shade) offers a brief respite before the climbing kicks in again. Then it's more grinding in small gears to the top. It's challenging to stay on the bike the entire time not because the technical challenge is super high but simply because of the relentless climbing and moderate obstacles that just keep coming.
A fit rider keeping the hammer down will need about 30 minutes (give or take) to reach the stone shelter. Ride at a conversational pace or take a few breaks and you might be looking at an hour-long effort but fear not because you've put nearly all the hard work behind you.
Atop Mt. Falcon there's an opportunity to extend this ride and add more singletrack by exploring the Parmalee Trail
and a few other options. If you're content to ride just the loop you'll skip those trails and exit the park for a road descent.
Keep an eye peeled for the easy-to-miss left turn onto gravelly Picutis Road. Follow that to the paved Parmalee Gulch Road and climb a moderate grade, following it through the small town of Indian Hills.
Keep following Parmalee Gulch Road. You'll pass Pence Park
on your left, then get ready to hit the singletrack again. Look for the Bear Creek Trail
on the right, just past the yellow hiker sign.
Clear your throat and prepare for some whooping and hollering. The Bear Creek descent is mostly flowy singletrack, with a few small climbs and some very fun rock features. Almost all of the technical bits offer an intermediate line, though you could miss it if you charge into the drops with too much speed.
A final descent at the end of the singetrack is followed by a hard righthander onto a flat, wide segment of the Bear Creek trail following the river to Little Park.
Once you reach the Little Park parking lot, it's time to get your roadie on again. Fortunately, the paved descent on Route 74 is quite fun as far as that kind of thing goes. Swooping bends and a mostly adequate shoulder brings you to Morrison.
If you've got a speedster in your group, pitch her the car keys and ask her to retrieve the car from the Mt. Falcon parking lot while the rest of your group gets the first drink order started. There's another 10-20 minutes of climbing to reach the car.