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Get Outside and Do Something!
by Doug McQuiston
Here’s a short quiz:
- Within the last year, have you shut off the computer, turned out the office lights and headed home at 3 p.m. to go for a bike ride or take a walk?
- Do you own a bike?
- Have you ridden it in the last year?
- Do you own a pair of sneakers/running shoes/hiking boots?
- Have you worn them in the last month?
If you answered "no" to three or more of these questions, it’s time for an intervention. You live in Colorado! It’s God’s Country — a state so rich in recreational opportunities that national legal recruiters talk lovingly of the "lifestyle premium" that comes with living and working here. Lawyers come from all over the country to live and work here, even though they will make less money than their paler, flabbier counterparts in other major legal centers like Chicago, New York and D.C. If you aren’t taking full advantage of our nearly perfect weather and world-class surroundings, you’re losing out!
Here are some places right around the corner, where you can "get outside and do something." It doesn’t matter whether it’s a lunchtime ride, an after-work scamper, or weekend epic — all that matters is that you’re outside, and you’re moving. This article isn’t meant to be exhaustive; there are just too many trails to list. However, here are a few to get you started:
City lunchtime strolls/jogs:
Washington Park is one of 200 parks in Denver. Photo by the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Washington Park loop
Cherry Creek trail from Confluence Park east
City lunchtime rides:
- Cherry Creek Trail — Confluence Park east to Cherry Creek Shopping Center and back
- Platte River Trail — Confluence Park south as far as you can ride in a half hour, and return
- City Streets Ride — over the pedestrian bridge or 15th Street to the Highlands, out 23rd Avenue to Sloan’s Lake and back; some heavy traffic, but 23rd has a bike lane for most of the way.
Tech Center-area strolls/jogs:
- Take your pick! Almost all sidewalks feed into a great Greenwood Village trail system that can take you for miles. Visit http://www.greenwoodvillage.com/index.asp?NID=336.
Tech Center-area lunchtime rides:
- Cherry Creek Reservoir loop. From the Tech Center, take DTC Boulevard to Union, head east to the park entrance and enjoy the loop — it’s about 12 miles around. You can make it a circle loop by leaving the park to the east and heading back on the Cherry Creek Trail east (along I-225), then south, through Greenwood Village Park back to Union, or just ride out-and-back through the Reservoir. Either way, you’re enjoying a ride that road cyclists — professional and amateur — all across the Front Range drive to get to; and it’s all right outside your office door!
- Highline Canal Trail. Good for short jaunts, but you’ll need a "bike trail" bike like a commuter or mountain bike — several stretches have crushed gravel not suitable for road bikes. This trail is more easily accessed from west of I-25, but is accessible to DTC office-dwellers via Orchard Road.
- Quincy Avenue out and back. Take DTC to Quincy, west through Cherry Hills to University, then back. You can make it a loop by heading south to Orchard Road for the return leg.
Denver has more than 650 miles of paved bike paths and was selected by Biking Magazine as America’s top city for cycling. Photo by the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.
A lunch-hour walk/jog/ride will still leave you time to grab a (healthy) lunch and work all afternoon while pumped full of workout endorphins. If you combine them with a ride to work every now and then, you’ll get your week’s worth of exercise without even trying. (I envy those of you who live within 10 miles of the office — I live 30 miles from where I work, making a "Bike to Work" day more like a metric century than a quick half-hour commute.)
One of the best parts about spring and summer in Denver is that we can bust out of the office a little early and get in a nice hike or trail ride before dark. No matter where in the metro area you live, you’re never more than a half-hour or so from excellent trails. The mountain trails are multi-purpose, so you can ride or hike. If your bike has drop handlebars, toss in some nice long stretches of pavement to get your roadie miles in before dinner.
After-work or weekend getaway hikes/mountain rides:
- Lair o’ The Bear Trail, Evergreen area
- Alderfer/Three Sisters Loop, Evergreen
- Apex Park/Chimney Gulch, Jefferson County
- Bear Creek State Park (right off C-470 at Morrison Road)
- Waterton Canyon, from Chatfield to Strontia Springs Dam, (and beyond for some truly challenging singletrack)
- Cherry Creek Reservoir (yes, it has dirt — some fun singletrack, complete with deer, foxes and coyotes)
After-work or weekend road rides:
- See above re: biking to work. You can stretch the Platte and Cherry Creek trails into 50-mile epics if you want.
- Lookout Mountain Climb. It’s only 4.6 miles to the top, but steep enough to make you wish you had a spare pair of lungs. The payoff for the grueling climb is the screaming descent back down to your car.
- South Cherry Creek Trail, from Cherry Creek Reservoir to Franktown. You’ll have to detour along Jordan Road south of the park awhile, then pick up the trail again at Cottonwood Park just north of the Parker town limits. This is a nice out-and-back for southeast metro dwellers.
- Chatfield Loop — nice ride for the southwest riders. Start at C-470 and Santa Fe, head south on the trail into Chatfield, then make the big loop. This can be windy, particularly in springtime, but has some nice climbs and fun descents. Watch your speed on the eastbound descent down the dam road — it is a helluva lot faster than it seems, and has a tight curve at the bottom that can kill you if you try to take it too fast!
- South Platte Café Ride. Start at the C-470 and Santa Fe parking lot, but this time head north along the Platte Trail. This is like Times Square on weekends, but the Venti nonfat latte and scone at the REI coffee shop at Confluence Park makes it all worthwhile. This is the place for all wannabe Tour de France road racers to see and be seen, so wear your best lycra and club jersey, and don’t forget the LIVESTRONG© bracelet.
- Bear Creek Trail. Hit this trail right off the South Platte Trail (see "Café ride," above), just south of Girard at the confluence of Bear Creek and the South Platte, and head west. You can ride all the way to Morrison, grab a beer, then head back, all in a couple of hours.
Start today! Pick a trail and get moving — you’re out of excuses. I’ll see you on the trail!
Doug McQuiston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.