Issue: May 2013
Tags: Super James, Super Flag, Steamboat Springs, road cycling, Rist Canyon Loop, Peak to Peak Highway, Maroon Bells, Lake Dillon Loop, Lake Catamount, Estes Park, Copper Triangle, confluence park, Cheyenne Canyon, Cherry Creek State Park, Carter Lake, bikes
With dry roads and sunny days stretching out ahead of us, we’re joining the frenzy—and helping you do the same—by highlighting some of the best road cycling routes (for beginners and experts alike!) along the Front Range and in Colorado’s famed high country. Clip in and enjoy the ride.
The Ride: Lake Dillon Loop
Distance: 31 miles round-trip
Time: 2 hours
With nonstop alpine scenery and one of the best recreational pathway systems in the state, Summit County is a road cyclist’s dream. The Lake Dillon Loop, beginning in Breckenridge, combines a casual spin around the marinas of the Dillon Reservoir with a short but satisfying climb up Swan Mountain. From the Breckenridge Recreation Center on Airport Road, head north on the Blue River Recpath nine miles to Frisco. It’s easy to speed on this descending path, but be wary of dogs, strollers, and other cyclists. In Frisco, take the Dillon Dam Recpath east and pedal a relatively flat six miles along the scenic northern shoreline to Dillon. Pick up the Snake River Recpath there and cross over its namesake while relishing the spectacular views of Keystone Mountain. After about a mile, hang a right onto the Swan Mountain Recpath to complete the loop around Lake Dillon.
At the southern tip of the lake, the Swan Mountain Recpath begins the four-mile climb to Sapphire Point, located midway between Keystone and Breck at 9,500 feet. Dismount and walk the short pedestrian path to the overlook for photo-worthy vistas of Lake Dillon and the White River National Forest, as well as the Gore and Tenmile mountain ranges. Bid the bike path a brief farewell and descend two crazy-fast miles down Swan Mountain Road (watch for cars!). At the bottom, cross over Highway 9 and look for the recpath to return to the recreation center in Breckenridge. —JM
The Breckenridge Distillery is located just off the Blue River Recpath on the way back to the Breckenridge Recreation Center. Exit the bike path by turning right on Coyne Valley Road; ride a half-mile and turn left on Airport Road. The world’s highest distillery is a half-mile down on the right and offers complimentary drop-in tours every day except Monday. Ask the bartender to show you the back room, where the staff plays with one-offs and infusions. 1925 Airport Road, Breckenridge, 970-547-9759, breckenridgedistillery.com
Extended Lake Dillon Loop (Moderate)
Add a second ski resort (and an extra 10 miles) to the original ride with an out-and-back to Keystone. Instead of turning right onto the Swan Mountain Recpath to complete the Lake Dillon Loop, follow the Snake River five miles into the town of Keystone. The asphalt is a bit more worn on this section of the route, but there’s no difficult climbing until a short kick at the very end, just before the path terminates in the Mountain House parking lot. You’ll follow the same route back.