Stand at the head of Denver’s Confluence Park and you’ll be looking the birthplace of the Coloradan capital.
It’s true. Even though famed American prospector William “Green” Russell and his brothers were unable to unearth any gold here, the encampment that formed at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River in 1858 would grow to become the most prominent city in the American Rocky Mountains.
On a slightly less dramatic note, this hip park in Denver’s Lower Downtown district also marks the northernmost entrance to the city’s Cherry Creek Trail. It’s a 20-mile stretch of waterside pavement that can be counted among the busiest bike paths in the city, thanks to a strategic course that runs from LoDo past the Cherry Creek Reservoir in Aurora.
Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice about the trail is its relatively tranquil vibe. Despite carrying cyclists through the heart of the most populous city in Colorado, things along Cherry Creek are kept relatively calm thanks to its situation below street level. This means you can look forward to a ride that’s unencumbered by the bustling street traffic overhead, and plenty of colorful wall art to entertain you as you pedal.
Thanks to the Cherry Creek Trail’s centralized location and wealth of overpasses, there’s no shortage of on and off-ramps to help cyclists easily navigate their way around the city. The sides of the creek are also well marked to help keep pedestrians out of the way of faster-moving traffic.
By the time the bike path emerges from its hidden channel onto E 1st Ave, downtown Denver will be several miles behind you. From here, a series of green spaces help to keep the passage refreshingly scenic, including the Denver Country Club, Cherry Creek Park, Lollipop Lake, and Hentzel Park. Worth singling out among these is the historic Four Mile House, which was constructed in 1859 and constitutes the oldest residential structure in the city. If nothing else, it makes for a quiet 12-acre reprieve to bike through.
Before emerging into the vast, elevated pitch of Cherry Creek State Park, cyclists will pass safely beneath I-225. This alone may be a first for a lot of riders, as it’s not every day you get to bike beneath the roar of an 8-lane interstate. Once on the other side, the steepest climb of the entire 500-ft ascent awaits. There’s no need to worry, though, as the incline is fairly short lived and delivers your first glimpse of the beautiful Cherry Creek Reservoir.
Cherry Creek State Park measures nearly 4,000 acres in total, and at 5,650 ft above sea level it offers more than its fair share of fantastic Rocky Mountain views. From here, you’ll have the option of continuing along the bike trail for another 20 miles into Douglas County or simply admiring the waterside beauty before starting the long downhill ride back into town.
Considering the clamor of city life that awaits you back in Denver, we won’t pass any judgement should you choose to linger a little longer than initially planned.