Sections of the 480-mile Colorado Trail near Denver offer some of the best single-track trail riding in the state. The eastern-most trail head is in Waterton Canyon near Chatfield Reservoir, where the trail begins a circuitous journey through the Colorado high country to Durango.
The initial six miles of Section One follows the former railroad bed of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad through Waterton Canyon, adjacent to the South Platte River, to the Strontoia Springs Dam. Heading west from the dam, the single-track trail begins. The trail rises out of the canyon to Russell Ridge (the high point), then drops steeply back down to the river in Platte Canyon, just south of the confluence of the South Platte River and its north fork.
Route location: In the northwest corner of Douglas County between Chatfield Reservoir and the former town site of South Platte.
Surface: The first 6 miles is on an old railroad bed, then the route follows a smooth wide and well-maintained single-track trail.
Distance: 27.2 miles.
Difficulty: Difficult. The route has an accumulated elevation gain of over 4,000 vertical feet.
Ride time: Allow 4-5 hours for the round trip.
From Denver: Travel south on Santa Fe Drive to C-470 and turn west. Take the Wadsworth exit, turn south and continue four miles to Kassler Road and follow signs to Waterton Canyon parking. 30 minutes driving time.