In the past, Deer Creek Canyon
was enjoyed by weekend warriors and afternoon riders primarily due to the trail's accessible location and amazing views rather than its short, primarily out-and-back trail system. However, with the new Black Bear Trail
, Deer Creek Canyon
's length and trail diversity competes with the best Front Range riding locations due to its connection with Hildebrand Ranch
and the rest of the surrounding area. The climbs are brutal but the amazing downhills and jaw-dropping views make it worth the pain.
This route can be enjoyed in either direction, however, the counterclockwise version shown above contains notably easier downhills so it is recommended that new riders begin with this route and switch to the clockwise direction once they know what steep and technical descents they'll be riding down.
Begin the loop by leaving the parking lot through the entrance and biking up W Deer Creek Canyon
road for just over a mile. The road has an excellent shoulder and serves as a great warm-up for what's to come.
After just over a mile of gradual climbing, you'll make a right at the Cathy Johnson Trail
where you'll climb until you reach the second turn off to the Columbine Trail
. The Cathy Johnson Trail
is easy to spot from the road because it is the first accessible trail.
From the Columbine Trail
, you'll arrive at the Lyons Back/Pass Trail
which is the beginning of your first real descent. It's a very flowy singletrack with the occasional rock feature which spices in a little extra difficulty. Once the Lyons Back/Pass Trail
comes to an end, take a quick left at the Coyote Song Trail
and from there make your way towards the Grazing Elk Trail
After crossing Valley Road from Grazing Elk Trail
, your first real climb of the day will begin. It's a short and steep effort that ends in a meadow with amazing views of the foothills. Follow this until reaching Rattlesnake Gultch Trail
which is on the other side.
You'll cross W Deer Creek Canyon
Road for the last time after a short and fast descent on Rattlesnake Gultch Trail
and begin one of the route's primary climbs. Rattlesnake Gultch Trail
ends in the Deer Creek Canyon
parking lot where you can take a quick restroom break or stop to catch your breath before starting the route's longest and most difficult climb on Plymouth Creek Trail
Plymouth Creek Trail
is home to technical efforts ranging from simple to absolutely evil. Roughly two miles in, you'll reach the most iconic and definitely most difficult of these efforts simply referred to as "The Wall." It's an impossibly steep and rough 25-yard section of granite rock. This section marks the end of the trail's insane efforts and the beginning of equally steep, slightly less technical climbing.
Stay on the Plymouth Creek Trail
until it ends at the Red Mesa Loop
. Unless you're looking to shorten your ride, do not use either entrance to the Plymouth Mountain Trail
until you have finished the Red Mesa Loop
(best in the clockwise direction). After completing the Red Mesa Loop
, backtrack down Plymouth Creek Trail
until meeting back up with the nearest entrance to Plymouth Mountain Trail
which is a steep, final climb up Plymouth Mountain.
Once at the top of Plymouth Mountain Trail
, you'll see signs for a scenic detour that takes you to the peak of Plymouth Mountain. It has not been included in this route but is a great, fast out-and-back to check out with an amazing view of the Denver area at the end.
After catching your breath, ride down the other side of Plymouth Mountain Trail
where you'll be able to hit lots of drainage jumps before turning off towards Black Bear Trail
. Black Bear Trail
is obviously marked with a permanent trail map and an entrance gate.
Enjoy the many switchbacks, flowy trail, and amazing views on Black Bear Trail
for just over six miles until eventually turning left onto Hildebrand Ranch
trail and ending your ride from there.