Monday, March 10, 2008

March 2008 Clear Creek Trail update

One of my favorite rides is the Clear Creek Trail to Golden.
In the past I've started from Denver, rode downstream on the Platte until you hit Clear Creek then head up that till I got to Golden. Once in Golden I would take a #16L RTD bus back to Denver for $1.75

This time I decided to do the reverse, to head to Golden by bus then ride the Clear Creek trail until it flows into the Platte, then head up the Platte and Cherry Creek then home.

First things first. Starting in Denver I caught the #16L at West Colfax and Lipan. It's a bus & light rail transit hub The 16L to Golden runs daily and Saturdays about every half hour Throw your bike on the bus rack, there's room for two bikes. If the bike racks are full and the bus isn't, the driver will let you on with your bike(s) in the back of the bus

So I caught the 12:15 bus to Golden, arriving around 1:00 pm at 10th and Washington in Golden. From there you're about a block from the creek. Go East on 10th Street two blocks and look for the trail on your left, opposite the creek.

From Golden it starts out way above the creek. This part of the trail is fairly new. A few years ago the route went through the Coors Brewery and then along a 50 MPH highway.

These days the trail leads to a covered bridge over the highway. This is much nicer. The trail doesn't follow Clear Creek very closely but there's a good view of the Brewery and the mountains behind Golden. The Coors Brewery is huge. They have their own railroad switching yard.

Here's a shot from the bridge over the highway.

Here's the beer train.

The scenery on the Clear Creek trail is spectacular. There are a lot of ponds, lakes and wetlands all the way. The trail returns to Clear Creek again and then I saw a new section of trail just about to open. I took it to see what was coming. There are some wetlands being constructed by the Coors people, it looks like it's going to be very nice. Here's the Western entrance off the current trail:

This is along the unfinished portion

It even has a tunnel beneath the railroad tracks.

The new trail ends back at the current trail. Looks like a temporary road crosses the trail for construction vehicles.

Here's few watery pictures along the route:

There are a few construction sites along the trail. Nothing serious, just some gravel bits and zigs and zags.

Then you come to the Ralston Creek trail turnoff. Easy to see because of the large white suspension bridge in the middle of nowhere.

Not that I mind the bridge, I like it. I just think it might be overkill, the creek it spans is not very wide.

Ralston Creek is a good ride, you can go up the Ralston and down the Clear in a day.

More on Ralston later, right now we're headed down Clear Creek.

I saw a spot where a deer had walked in wet cement.
That was cool. The trail winds on through woods, just wait till summer and every thing's green!

Bridges and scenic woods abound.

Pretty soon the trail comes to the Little Dry Creek Junction, here's the turnoff looking East:

The underpass leads to Little Dry Creek, the overpass continues Clear Creek.

Here's a picture looking West:

I discovered the Little Dry Creek trail was when I failed to veer left in the above intersection. Left to Clear Creek, right to Little Dry Creek.

Not far from the Little Dry Creek confluence is Smokey's Barbecue. I like to stop there, tasty food if you're a meat eater. They're closed on weekends.

Looking West at Smokey's from the Clear Creek trail.

Not far from Smokey's the trail passes through an open space with some large Trees. I always stop and hug my favorite one, just across this bridge:

I couldn't believe it, my friend was gone. Nothing but a bunch of sawdust and bark bits. Here's a picture of the stump with my glove on it to show some scale.

I'm glad this was near the end of my ride. Several other large trees nearby had been felled too but this one was the largest and always got my respect. I lay prostrate on the stump for a long time. I grieved for my friend. I'll be interested to see what they do with that property in the future and why they had to remove my friend.

I need to go visit another tree friend I haven't seen in a while. He resides at the C-470 - Highline Canal trail junction. I used to call him Octo but after he lost two appendages in a windstorm his name became Sexto. I hope Sexto's doing ok.

These trees were nearby.
Here's another stump, used to be a three pronged tree.

OK, forgetting the tree incident, the trail comes to a dam and a couple diversion canals. They're pretty dry right now so it's a good time to document them before water fills them up.

Here's a series of pics of the dam and diversion canals in winter mode:

The Winter of 2007-8 has been a snow maker in the mountains. These canals will be running full this Summer.

The trail winds along a little furter then emties into the Platte river. At the confluence there is a park with picnic tables and shelters a great place for a picnic. There's a bridge over the Platte that leads to a shelter next to a lake. Here's some pictures:

Here's the shelter:

The Clear Creek Platte River Confluence Park is pretty much a bicycle experience unless you walk. There is no car access.

Looking at the Clear Creek flow into the Platte.

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