Deer Creek Canyon route is a classic bike route for many Denver cyclists and some might argue that it is Denver's top athletic bike route. Rider and author, Katie Macarelli takes you on an extent route on this Deer Creek Canyon early ride.
This rides starts at the South Trailhead of South Valley Park in Littleton Colorado and is our 18.9 mile warm-up for a 6 mile initial climb that lies ahead. 5:45am was our go time but there were several early risers at this parking lot as well. Many people park right off of Wadsworth and Deer Creek Canyon Rd this gives you about a 3 mile warm-up before the climb.
Starting out, this ride is very humble. It's not too steep--the incline never goes beyond 7% and certainly not for the first 2.5 miles. We're talking 2-5% inclines at the beginning. So enjoy the view.
Enjoy watching the OTHER people turn left at South Deer Creek Rd (about 3 miles from the South Valley Parking Lot) to do "Highgrade" because I hear that's just awful.*
Yes, It's quite "pine-y" through here. It smells nice, it's pretty and this is a ride where you are reminded why you like to ride your bike. It's twisty and narrow. So twisty and narrow that I found myself crossing to the right of the white shoulder line on corners, just to give the mere hint of a car extra room. Very similar to Golden Gate, Kerr, etc. The roads are in good condition, and there is a great shoulder...at first. This disappears, though (so warns the cruel, yellow SIGN), so be prepared and for the love of all that's HOLY. RIDE SINGLE FILE and watch your continental drift. Getting started early on this ride is just plain smart. Your ride will be much more enjoyable. You'll be able to enjoy rustic barns, "Hidden Drive" signs (hiding WHAT??!?!) , and at this time of year, lilacs and wild-flowers.
At about 5 miles, things change. You are now huffing and puffing, but there is no house to blow down. That's just your ribs cracking. It's not that it's steep, it's just a gring and one you know you should've expected, but still didn't. As soon as you see the huge barn , you know you are almost there.
6 miles of climbing from the South Valley Park lot, 9 or so if you parked right off Wadsworth and West Deer Creek Canyon Rd. Not so bad, but bad enough. Luckily there is a HUGE parking lot to catch your breath. Hint: pull OFF the road, off to the side, and take advantage of this GINORMOUS space that is in place so you don't get in the way of the residents, and/or killed while recuperating from your Deer Creek Canyon Strava segment race.
If you are just going back down, hug yourself and be happy for the world. If you are continuing, be ready for a wickedly-fun descent and then...more climbing.
Continue along past Tiny Town (so creepy, yet so magnetic), to Parmalee Gulch. http://tinytownrailroad.com/
Be ready to head east a little bit on highway 285 and as you cross the highway, north to Parmalee Gulch Rd, (right after you go under the bridge)...just take a second to really gauge the speed of oncoming traffic and maybe gear down while you are waiting so you don't have to struggle uncomfortably like a beached whale on your pedals.
By mid morning traffic can start to fill up and often times riiiiiiiiggggggggghhhhhhhhht next to you. But it was really pretty and we DID get a wonderful whiff of Brisket while riding past the "Turkey Creek Cafe".
Stop at the cyclist-friendly General Store in Kittredge to refuel. This place is seriously friendly. They have a mini-bike rack right by the front door as well as tables and chairs outside. Not to mention they have ice near the sink with a scoop for your water bottles, GOOD bananas and a variety of goods to refuel your body for wherever your adventures may take you. Owners are great and the staff is always smiling.
After this, we rolled down Hwy 74, took Grapevine, crossed I-70, came down Hwy 40 and were back to Golden in a mere 4 hours! And then we had $2 breakfast burritos from El Senior Sol. Because we EARNED them. De-LISSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHH-IOUS.
See details at Strava