Does Denver have better trails than Colorado Springs?

We have already shown that Colorado Springs’ trail system compares favorably with the best mountain biking destinations in the country (original post linked here). We have also shown that as we’ve built an amazing trail network, Colorado Springs has had to overcome significant barriers compared to other top riding destinations (read the full post here). Now we address the question, is Denver a better city for mountain biking?

At MedWheel we always welcome feedback about our community’s trails. Occasionally we hear the claim, “If you want to ride good mountain bike trails in town, you need to go to Denver.” To test this statement, we made a list of the best mountain bike trails in Denver from suggestions by and Mountain Bikes Lab, we also added Floyd Hill since it was not on either list. We then used Google Maps to calculate average driving times from Denver to each location. Here is what we found:

A few observations are immediately apparent:

  • The best trails in Denver are not in Denver.
  • On average, you will need to drive 32 minutes in your car to get to a trailhead – more if there’s traffic. This article isn’t about vehicle traffic, but few would argue that travel times are frequently impacted by traffic in Denver.
  • The only MTB location within Denver city limits is Ruby Hill bike park. Ruby Hill is a great bike park – but the trails nearby do not offer the riding experiences as the other “Denver” locations listed. 
  • The city of Denver itself has relatively few mountain bike trails. According to MTB Project, Denver has only 92 miles of trails – 15 green, 4 blue and 2 black trails.

There are some great riding destinations within a reasonable driving distance of Denver. In comparison, Colorado Springs has excellent trails within our city limits. Furthermore, given the variety of riding locations across the city (e.g., North Cheyenne Canyon, Red Rock Canyon, Ute Valley, Palmer Park, Blodgett, Austin Bluffs, Bear Creek, etc) most MTB users in Colorado Springs can ride to a trailhead in less time than it would take to drive to a trail in Denver

Obviously, many people happily drive an hour or more to ride at Floyd Hill – it’s what’s required to get there, and it is a compelling place to ride. We frequently meet riders on our trails that have driven from Denver to ride here, and we expect this trend to increase when the Pikeview quarry bike park is opened. If you wish Colorado Springs had an amazing location like Floyd Hill, keep in mind Floyd Hill is located in Clear Creek county, about 15 minutes drive from both Evergreen (population 9,307) and Idaho Springs (population 1,717). Clear Creek county has a reported population of 9355, compared to El Paso County’s population of 740, 567. Refer to our previous article for the discussion about how population impacts an area’s economy and recreation opportunities.

We can take great pride in the fact that here in Colorado Springs we have overcome significant barriers to developing a great trail system that many residents access right from HOME.

To learn more about MedWheel’s trail construction, maintenance and advocacy accomplishments in the Pikes Peak region, see the work we have done on this interactive map

In our next article, we look at what makes Colorado Springs the best place in the country, if not the world, for mountain bikers to live.