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- It’s always a good day to see the city by bike.
When it comes to city cycling, you won’t find a route that covers more ground or gets you to more access points than the connecting New Santa Fe Regional/Pikes Peak Greenway/Fountain Creek Regional Trails. This whole pedestrian and cycling freeway runs a whopping 40 miles north/south alongside I-25 and Fountain and Monument Creeks, traveling from the city of Fountain all the way to Palmer Lake with a jaunt through the Air Force Academy. You will experience every type of scenery Colorado has to offer: plains, forest, water, city landscapes, you name it. It’s paved or hard-pack for the majority of the stretch between El Pomar Youth Sports Park to the south and Woodmen Road to the north; after that, however, the gravel gets loose and hills become more frequent and steep heading in both directions.
If you’re looking for an east/west route, Rock Island Trail is a wide, fully paved way to get from the Westside all the way to the Powers corridor. This trail actually has two legs. The aforementioned route to Powers... and a route from Falcon to Peyton that begins about 8 miles from where the city leg ends. We’ve yet to find the portal that gets us to that Falcon stretch, but we’re confident we will discover it eventually. In Colorado Springs, hop on at Lilac Street and Weber Street and head east. You’ll be in an alley for a bit, but it will dump you out onto the trail. It’s not always the prettiest ride as far as scenery goes, but it’s efficient and well-maintained and has lots of adorable dogs to exclaim over.
The eastern leg of the Rock Island Trail is also a fun ride and it’s worth mentioning because it’s part of the Rails-to-Trails program that converts obsolete railways into pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly routes (as is the New Santa Fe leg). East Rock Island is a brilliant example, allowing you to cruise across the plains on hard-packed gravel. You may even experience the breathless excitement of discovering a loose steer by the trail — and the subsequent panic when the steer decides you need to be removed from his territory. Everyone is in shape when an angry bovine is following them.
We can’t leave the Midland Trail out even though a large chunk is in flux during construction. It’s a well-paved, 7-mile east/west stretch that begins, of course, off the Greenway Trail in America the Beautiful Park. It’s an absolutely gorgeous, mostly shady ride that runs past the backside of Old Colorado City and plays tag with Fountain Creek as it rushes down from the mountains. It gets you to access points for Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Section 16, Bear Creek Park and beyond with very little on-the-road time.
Last year, there were several mountain biking trails that were under construction when they were reported on by Indy News Editor J. Adrian Stanley (tinyurl.com/INDY-PedalParadise). There’s good news for some of them. At long last, the Lake Moraine Trail opened in August of 2018. It’s hard to imagine how 4 miles of trail could take 20 years to create, but the “Missing Link” has been found and riders can now get between Barr Trail and Jones Park, Bear Creek and North Cheyenne Cañon on a sanctioned, properly built trail. Which isn’t to say it’s an easy ride. The single-track makes you earn your downhill reward with a steep climb, boulders, bridges and rocky swathes all at 10,000 feet of elevation.
Over in North Cheyenne Cañon Park, a master plan has been adopted for a variety of changes. Included in the current plan is the recommendation to turn Captain Morgan’s Trail, The Chutes and one yet to be determined trail into downhill-only routes. The unnamed trail will work as a downhill-only extension to the Ridgeway trailhead. A stopping point will also be added. All of these modifications should increase safety, decrease rogue trails and give cyclists an opportunity to bomb down popular trails (mostly) worry-free.