Built in 2006, these trails are great examples of modern, purpose-built recreation trails. They are smooth, flowy, and not eroding as most seem do in the front range. They're also beautiful, fun, mostly easy, and take you through great scenery.
Though the trails are all technically easy, the long climbs and precipitous drop-offs might not make it suitable for some beginners.
You can bypass on the county roads if you want to complete a loop of the Centennial Cone trails at times when the Elk Range Trail
is closed (generally Nov-June).
Starting at the East trailhead at Centennial Cone Park, ride north on the paved road (Carmino Peridio), out of the park and up a couple short steep climbs to the Robinson Hill Road intersection. Turn left on Robinson Hill Road and follow the rolling paved road west. After about a mile, the road veers left into Douglas Mountain Drive.
The road turns to a mix of asphalt and gravel road. Turn left onto Douglas Mountain Drive and start a gradual climb to the top of a pass. After cresting the hill, keep on the main road and enjoy the fast switch-backing downhill and the views of Clear Creek Canyon. After a couple miles of downhill, look for the paved road access on the left for Centennial Cone Park. Fun is over, turn left and start climbing the steep paved road up to the west parking area.
Starting from the large Mayhem Gulch parking lot (with bathrooms) just off Highway 6, you immediately start your climb up Mayhem Gulch trail. This is the longest climb of the day, but the grade is moderate and the surface is smooth. Some of the switchbacks are tight and might need you to step off you bike a few times.
In 1.5 miles, the Juniper Trail
goes left. Take it (you'll return via the Mayhem trail that continues to the right). This trail is much flatter and feels great after the long climb.
After a mile on the Juniper Trail
, you'll reach an intersection with the Centennial Cone Road parking just ahead. Continue past the other trails to the parking, and continue on the Elk Range Trail
, which is really a dirt road. This section is flat but beautiful as it passes by a small working farm (careful of horses and cows near the trail).
After 3 miles of dirt road you'll arrive at the North Trail
parking area. Turn right on the Travois Trail
and follow beautiful, smooth, flowy singletrack down a gentle grade for half a mile. Here, the trail splits (Travois to the left, Evening Sun to the right). Take either one - they rejoin half a mile later. They are both great and about the same difficulty (both easy).
From here, the Travois trail starts getting a bit more difficult, and many people find this to be the best singletrack in this area. You climb, descend, climb a bit more, all with great views of the surrounding hills. The views down Clear Creek Canyon are cool - it looks amazingly deep from up this high.
After reaching a high rocky point, you make a long descent to Elk Creek and a bridge. Fun, but the bad news is you now have to climb all the way back out of this drainage. It's quite a bit of work, but again the trail is smooth and not too steep. Mastering the tight switchbacks is a good challenge.
Once back on the ridge top, the trail goes gently up and down, with steep drops to the left, and great scenery everywhere. This is perhaps the highlight of the entire ride.
After 7.4 miles on the Travois trail (and about 14 total miles so far), you reach the Mayhem Gulch trail intersection. Take it to the left and enjoy the great views and smooth, wide singletrack for .8 miles.
You are now back on the part of Mayhem Gulch that you road up a few hours earlier. Take a left and cruise back to your car.
This loop can be done in either direction, and can be made shorter by parking at the Centennial Cone Road Trailhead (avoiding the biggest climb, out of Mayhem Gulch).
Centennial Cone Park was acquired in 1999 with voter-approved Open Space Bond funds. Located north of Clear Creek Canyon, nearly to the Clear Creek County line, the park is valued for the habitat it provides to elk, mountain lion and other species.