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Littleton, Colorado, United States

Waterton Canyon/Indian Creek Mountain Bike Trail

Please note that Waterton Canyon is closed until 2012. Epic MTB Trail southwest of Denver, Colorado

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Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 29 miles / 47 km
Duration: Half day
 
Overview: This is an epic mountain bike ride, the beginning of the Colorado Trail, a trail that travels over 400 hundred miles and ends in Durango. This ride follows part of the Colorado Trail and then joins the Indian Creek loop, a total of a little over 30 miles (much shorter than 400 miles if you were to follow the Colorado Trail).

UPDATE: This trail was closed starting on August 2010 for dredging of the reservoir. I am glad to say that it is now opened for the 2012 season and beyond. I really missed this trail.

Directions to Trailhead: From Denver, take I70 West to C470. Take C470 East to the Wadsworth Boulevard exit. Go south (right turn) off this exit and travel about 4.2 miles. Turn left onto Waterton Road and the parking lot will be about 0.2 miles on your left. It is a big open parking lot and is hard to miss.

Directions of the ride: From the parking lot, cross the street at the crosswalk which leads you onto the jeep road that follows the South Platte River to Strontia Springs Dam (POI #2) at 6.3 miles and eventually the beginning of the Colorado Trail at 6.8 miles. Follow the Colorado Trail as it winds up and at 7.9 miles (POI #6)from the start of the ride, you will come to a small plateau with a bench. This may be a good time to rest your legs a bit and get something to eat. When you are ready to continue, make sure you follow the trail left to Roxborough State Park/Indian Creek Trail since this is where you will be leaving the Colorado Trail. At 8.2 miles (POI #7), you will come to an intersection where the Indian Creek loops back on itself. For the sake of this trail, go left on the trail following the sign for Roxborough State Park/Indian Creek Trail. This is a fun rolling singletrack that will eventually come to a T-intersection at mile 10.2 (POI #8). Go right at this intersection, continuing on the Indian Creek Trail toward Roxborough State Park.

Continue following the various signs and markers on the Indian Creek Trail as you enter and leave a portion of Roxborough State Park. The trail varies from singletrack to jeep road and is rolling but mostly uphill until you come to POI #17 at 17 miles. This trail sign is subtle on the right side of the road, leads to a singletrack downhill that will eventually lead down to the Indian Creek Equestrian campground at mile 18.5 (POI #18). Enjoy this singletrack, you have deserved it for all of the climbing that you have done to get this far.

Turn right onto the jeep road leading into the campground. At mile 18.8, the jeep road will make a hairpin loop back around. At the apex of the hairpin loop, look for the Indian Creek Trail continuing on as a singletrack (POI #19).

At mile 19.6, you will have the first crossing of Bear Creek. Soon you will start climbing again, and then at mile 20.9, you will come to the intersection with Stevens Gulch Trail (POI #21). Make sure you go left and follow the Indian Creek Trail sign, not Stevens Gulch. This is another short steep climb that will lead you to a rolling singletrack that eventually brings you back to the beginning of the Indian Creek Loop (POI #22 and #7). Follow the Colorado Trail back down to the Waterton Canyon jeep road and take the road all the way back to where you started. While on the jeep road, relax and reflect on the epic trail that you have just completed.


Tips: Make sure you bring a good topographic map and know the general directions for the trail. Although it would be somewhat difficult to get lost on the trail, it is a good idea to know the general area where you are at any time on the trail. Also, make sure you don't continue on the Colorado Trail at mile 7.9. This is an entirely different ride.

The best time to go for this trail is late spring to late fall. Once snowfall hits, it is no longer rideable along the Colorado Trail and Indian Creek Trail.

Make sure you bring a rain jacket if there is any chance of rain because you will be out in the wilderness for at least 3.5 hours, up to 6 hours or longer depending on how fast you ride. There are no facilities or shelter once you get on the Colorado Trail and Indian Creek Trail.

Make sure you bring enough food/water for a vigorous 3.5 hour to 6+ hour ride. There are no facilities to replenish your food. There are some creek crossings, so it would be a good idea to bring some water purification tablets if you think you may run out of water.

Points of Interest

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3 miles

View at 3 miles along the South Platte River Road. The ride thus far is an easy warmup along this well kept jeep road. Beware of Denver Water traffic, other bicyclists, hikers and fishermen.
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6.3 miles

Strontia Springs Dam. At this point, people who don't want to continue and do the Colorado Trail and Indian Creek Trail or just want a leisurely scenic ride, will turn back here. Strontia Springs Reservoir is being dredged in August 2010, effectively closing the South Platte River Road access to this point until 2012.
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6.5 miles

Roxborough State Park and Colorado Trail intersection. Continue straight and follow the way to the Colorado Trail.
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6.7 miles

Continue following signs for Colorado Trail.
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6.8 miles

Beginning of the Colorado Trail, a trail that continues for over 400 miles and ends up in Durango. Some people actually will hike or bicycle the entire trail over a period of weeks to months.
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7.9 miles

At the top of the climb, follow the sign to Roxborough State Park/Indian Creek Trail.
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8.2 miles

Beginning of the Indian Creek Loop. For my trail description, take the left on to the loop, toward Roxborough State Park.
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10.2 miles

At this T-intersection, turn right toward Roxborough State Park, following the Indian Creek Trail.
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11.4 miles

Turn right at this sign and continue following the trail.
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11.7 miles

Entering into Roxborough State Park borders.
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12 miles

Continue on the Indian Creek Trail. Don't head towards the Roxborough State Park Visitor center. Bikes are not allowed on this trail.
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12.8 miles

Continue following trail signs for the Indian Creek Trail.
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13.1 miles

Continue following trail signs for the Indian Creek Trail.
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13.5 miles

Continue following trail signs for the Indian Creek Trail. Don't follow the Stevens Gulch Trail.
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14 miles

Continue following the Indian Creek trail signs.
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16.3 miles

Look carefully for this Indian Creek sign, somewhat hidden in the foliage. Follow this sign to the singletrack that leads to the Indian Creek Equestrian campground.
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17 miles

Continue following the Indian Creek Trail signs. This leads to the Indian Creek Equestrian campground.
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18.5 miles

Welcome to the Indian Creek Equestrian campground. Hope you enjoyed the singletrack descent. Go right down the jeep road that leads to the campsites. Don't go left to the parking lot.
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18.8 miles

At the end of the hairpin loop jeep road, the Indian Creek singletrack trail continues downhill. Look for this sign; it is somewhat hard to see initially.
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19.6 miles

First crossing of Bear Creek.
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20.9 miles

Intersection of Stevens Gulch Trail and Indian Creek Trail. Follow the sign for the Indian Creek Trail on the left.
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22.4 miles

Indian Creek Loop is finally completed. Hope you enjoyed the singletrack. Now you are back where you first started the loop, at POI #7. Follow the trail back to the parking lot (about 7.9 miles) in reverse direction of the way you came out.
Pictures in this guide taken by: MooniakRides

Waterton Canyon/Indian Creek Mountain Bike Trail Map


POIs: numbers | icons View large Map

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