I've ridden all over Boulder County and know about a lot of good rides.
A Favorite Mountain Bike Ride in Boulder
- Length: 7.3 miles
- Elevation Start: 5500 feet
- Elevation High: 6400 feet
- Estimated Time Expert: 30–40 minutes
- Estimated Time Beginner: 60–90 minutes
- Bike Types: mountain, gravel
This ride involves about 1.7 miles of pretty steep climbing and then a gravel descent to a paved road that goes back into Boulder. The total mileage round trip to complete the entire loop is 7.3 miles.
However, there are many ways to make the ride more strenuous. At the top of the ride, there are options to do loops on Linden that can extend the ride significantly, particularly in terms of altitude gain.
Overall, this is a ride that can be done fast and also has a lot of flexibility if you need an extra challenge. I use my times on this ride to measure my fitness and any improvements I've made.
Linden Ave & Wonderland Hills Drive: Mile 0
This is a bike ride I do when I don't have a lot of time but want to get in some decent aerobic work. It goes through the West Boulder community of Pine Brook Hills.
It starts at the corner of Linden Avenue and Wonderland Hills Avenue.
Linden Ave. & North Cedar Brook Road: Mile 1
The photo below is what you'll see once you complete the first mile of the ride. There's a fork in the road where Linden Avenue and North Cedar Brook Road intersect.
At this point, you'll want to go left and continue to follow Linden. North Cedar Brook Road services a number of houses, but does not go through.
Be prepared, you've just done some steep climbing, but this is where the ride gets its steepest. From mile 1 to mile 1.7 is the steepest part of the ride and might wind beginners to the point where they'll have to stop to catch their breath. If you're not used to the altitude, but very aware of what your body tells you.
Linden Ave. & Timber: Mile 1.5
The intersection of Linden Ave and Timber is your second fork in the road pictured below. This is a place where you can extend your ride by doing loops. If you want to lengthen the ride, you can hang a left here and follow Linden Ave around and explore upper Pine Brook Hills.
The loop will eventually bring you to the same spot if you go to the right. However, if you're tight on time, like I often am, hang a right.
Read More From Skyaboveus
Linden Ave & Pine Brook Road: Mile 1.7
This is another fork. You can extend the ride by hanging a left, where the climbing gets even steeper. In just a very short time, you can double your altitude gain by going left. The road winds through neighborhoods. Total altitude gain if you go in this direction is 1800 feet from the start.
Pine Book Loop Sign
The Pine Brook Loop Sign is only a few hundred feet distance from the signs for Linden Ave. and Pine Brook.
The mileage measurements in this article assume that you take a left at this sign. However, you can go either way. Going left is a bit longer than going right. Either way though, you're going downhill at this point, so it doesn't really matter.
At this point, you're on gravel and dirt, so pay attention to your speed. Taking a corner too fast can easily result in a fall.
Bow Mountain Road & Pine Brook: Mile 2.5
This is the other side of the loop. Directly to the north, you continue descending on Bow Mountain Road. The gravel/dirt road goes down and then comes up just slightly before going downhill again for the rest of the ride.
If you're coming up Bow Mountain Road from the other direction, you'll see this sign, letting you know you're on the right track.
Wagonwheel Gap Road & Bow Mountain Road: Mile 3.3
As you descend toward the end of Bow Mountain road, it transitions from dirt to pavement. You'll then come to the intersection seen below. From here, it's an easy ride down to Lee Hill.
Wagonwheel Gap Road & Lee Hill Drive: Mile 4.2
The below photograph is a busy intersection. Despite this, bicyclists run the sign all the time. Be careful. From here it's downhill all the way to Broadway. However, as you coast down Lee Hill, there are several options on your right for returning to the starting point.
How to Get Back (3 Options)
There are three distinct routes to get back to the starting point. I will list them in order of approach as you descend Lee Hill.
- Four Mile Creek Trailhead: As you descend into the community known as Dakota Ride, you'll see a sign for this trailhead and the parking lot next to it. By taking a right here, you can ride a dirt trail with great views of the foothill almost all the way back. The dirt trail transitions into a paved trail and will take you within a few hundred feet of the starting point. The trail is heavily trafficked by runners, hikers, and bikers, so take your time. (As of the time of this publication, riding on this trail required a mask)
- Paved trail: Right after 10th St. you'll see a sign for a bike trail. There is a paved trail that weaves through the neighborhoods. It alternates between trails and streets. The signage is pretty good to keep you on track. Once you reach about Union, you'll have to turn east and go to Broadway to get back.
- Broadway: The most direct route is Broadway to Linden and then west on Linden to the starting point. Unlike other parts of Broadway, this section has a bike lane, so it's pretty safe.
Reverse the Ride
This ride is good in either direction, so once you familiarize yourself with this south to north route, you can reverse directions. Perhaps the only minor inconvenience if you start from the north is that the final few miles of the ride will be slightly uphill.
I will note that the uphill route up Wagonwheel Gap Road is very pleasant because there aren't many cars. It's a very peaceful feeling riding up that road.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Allen Donald
Allen Donald (author) from Colorado on September 06, 2020:
I appreciate your comments. This is an article with a pretty limited audience, so I'll be interested to see how many people read it. I just thought I'd give one a try since I mountain bike all the time in this area.
Liz Westwood from UK on September 06, 2020:
I initially missed the . in the title. 73 miles seemed a lot. 7.3 is a much more manageable distance. This is an extremely useful article for anyone who lives near enough to ride this route. Living in the UK, I have really appreciated the good quality illustrations and the opportunity to virtually visit the area through your article.