I unloaded my bike at the Hidden Mesa Trailhead just north of Franktown on CO 83. The park was quite busy over to the left with people working in the greenhouses and tending the flowers and plants around the log cabin in the parking lot.
I rode down the dirt farm path toward Cherry Creek, crossed the bridge and joined up with the Cherry Creek Trail at the half mile mark. My hybrid bicycle navigated the dirt path just fine.
From here, I followed the trail less used, turning south to see for myself if the trail reached Castlewood Canyon State Park. The plan with building the trail had been to connect Denver and the Cherry Creek State Park with Castlewood Canyon State Park, some 40+ miles to the south. Many years ago, I had once tried to bicycle the Trail from my home in Castle Rock all the way to Confluence Park at the junction of Cherry Creek and the Platte River in downtown Denver. What I found then were dead ends, long re-routes around private land all along the trail and lots of road riding throughout Douglas and Arapaho Counties. The few miles of the trail from the Platte River Junction to Cherry Creek State Park were in place at the time and were a nice ride, finishing at the then new REI store.
|Farmland along the trail|
|Frog and Beetle|
|39.5 Mile Marker|
|Promoting Hidden Mesa|
I followed along the trail here which travels through private land and has some gates to be opened and closed. Today all gates were open, no cattle were grazing here and the trail was smooth and fast. I bicycled past Bayou Gulch and the new connector trail to highway 83, then was routed behind a neighborhood that had just started construction when I rode there before. At the end of the neighborhood, I left the trail to follow a gravel path east and up to another gravel farm road where I turned left and pedaled by another field and some farmhouses. There are development signs everywhere along here, announcing this former farm will be developed into another neighborhood. While sad, it is inevitable that any wide open place like this will either become a neighborhood or an open space park. The neighborhoods are winning.
|Looking east across the old wooden bridge|
The paved trail continues along across more farm land, passes the side trail to the Pinery and continues to follow Cherry Creek northward. My goal today was to ride to Stroh Ranch Road and turn around there, giving me a 20 mile ride. I turned around at the Stroh Road bridge and rode back south, planning to take a short break at a bench I passed. It was a beautiful day today and was nice except for the headwind I encountered on the way back home.
|Turnaround Point Trail Sign|
|Working Ranch Trail Signage|
|Break spot on the return trip|
|View from the break spot|
|Back to the farm path at trails end|
|Cherry Creek under the Farm Path Bridge|
To start at the southern end of the Cherry Creek Trail, drive south from Denver on I-25, exiting at Founders Parkway, exit 184. Go left and follow to CO 86 where you go left/east. Drive to Franktown and turn left on CO 83 about a mile and a half to Hidden Mesa Open Space just past the historic Pikes Peak Grange. Turn left into the parking area and start your ride here. There is a porta-let, picnic tables and shelter here. The parking area is open from 1 hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset.