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Waterton Canyon to Lenny's Bench

Littleton, Colorado , United States
|
16 mi

16

mi

1.2k

ft elev +


Story

Several Rocky Mountain bighorns along the river and road.
Waterton Canyon west of Denver is a winding dirt road that offers stunning views with plenty of opportunities to see different wildlife types, ranging from the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep to the prairie rattlesnake. 

There is a parking lot just off Waterton Road. The road is about 6.5 miles and takes you along the South Platte River with a gradual grade of 1-2% until you reach the Strontia Springs Dam. Don't be surprised to see several mountain sheep hanging out along the road and river. Typically they are more cautious or even indifferent to people but just slow down a touch as you go past them. 

Beyond this spot is an option to continue past the dam if you want to get some singletrack riding in. This is the beginning of the Colorado Trail and Segment 1.   This first mile of the Colorado Trail connects to the Indian Creek mountain bike trail system and an area called Lenny's Bench. It's an excellent place to sit and rest after the climb through a densely forested area. You might even see a thru-hiker beginning or ending the "CT." There are some very short technical sections on the way up to the bench, but for the most part, the trail is pretty smooth. A gravel bike with 38c tires minimum is required past the dam. This is also a great route for beginner mountain bikers. 

This ride is a nice chill ride out-and-back to the dam for a total around 13 miles, or keep going and check out the Indian Creek trails. If you're looking for a bit more mileage but want to skip the CT, you can hit the Platte River bike path towards Chatfield Reservoir. 

It's a beautiful ride guaranteed!

-Melissa Westergard PEARL iZUMi Crew
Nice wide dirt to have a chance to catch up with friends on an easy grade.
The Platte River making its way east towards Denver.
The Strontia Springs Dam
Mountain sheep above the road
The start of Segment 1 of the Colorado Trail. Over 500 miles to Durango.
The singletrack of CT1 up to Lenny's Bench.
Lenny's Bench (and my bike).
The plaque on Lenny's Bench memorializing the hiker.