Golden rocks a legit mountain biking scene that attracts both locals and visitors alike. The terrain ranges from arid plateaus to dense forest to technical rock gardens – dishing up a variety of options for riders of all abilities.
The four best trail systems are Apex Park, White Ranch, North Table and Centennial Cone. This post will give you an overview of each park, plus recommended trails and a few other tidbits for planning your next Golden biking adventure.
Just remember: the key to a good day out is courtesy. Golden trails are heavily used – especially on weekends – so be courteous of your fellow trail users, and consider riding with a bell to alert others of your presence.
Got the vibe? Sweet. Now let’s dig in!
Golden has 100+ miles of trails for shredding the brown pow. Whether you’re a beginner or expert, you’ll find plenty to love. Here are the four main trail systems.
The first downhill stretch after grinding up the Argos trail in Apex Park. Photo credit
Tucked away behind the Golden Ridge neighborhood, Apex Park offers a compact yet diverse trail network with heaps of sick terrain. One minute you’ll be chugging up an exposed hillside with views of Golden and Denver, the next you’ll be ripping down narrow singletrack, dodging boulders and italian greyhounds. If you’re riding between 11:30-1pm on a weekday, listen for yewwwws of Yeti’s legendary lunch ride.
- Trails: 8 trails (4 expert, 3 intermediate, 1 easy)
- Distance: 14 miles of singletrack
- Best for: Variety of terrain
- Recommended route: Apex Park Tour. Per mtbproject.com, this route incorporates two of the best descending trails in Apex Park: Enchanted Forest and Apex Trail. Both of these trails are subject to direction restrictions (uphill only) on odd numbered days, but when you’re allowed to descend them, they’re a ton of fun.
The last downhill section of Longhorn trail at White Ranch Park. Photo credit
It’s no surprise that Jeffco’s largest open space contains a huge network of bike trails. What might surprise you, however, is the lack of crowds. The park’s location is largely to credit for the solitude at White Ranch. Riders and hikers who start on the lower trailhead – the one closer to downtown Golden – face a gruelling, 4.5-mile climb up steep and technical gravel to reach the heart of the trail system. This keeps the crowds at bay. A flatter start can be found at the west trailhead, just 20 minutes up the picturesque Golden Gate Canyon road.
- Trails: 11 trails (4 expert, 5 intermediate, 2 beginner)
- Distance: 20 miles of singletrack
- Best for: solitude
- Recommended route: White Ranch technical descent tour. Per mtbproject.com: The ride features some of the best singletrack in the front range. Technical drops, switchbacks, rock gardens, and climbs. It’s everything a dirt lover could want.
Rare foggy morning ride on the North Table Loop. Photo credit
Nothing about North Table Mountain Park will blow your mind. But its convenience to town, variety of trails and panoramic views are enough to keep this trail system interesting. Three things to know about North Table: watch out for rattlesnakes, expect crowds at peak times and figure out a way to work New Terrain into your post-ride plans. Cheers! 🍻
- Trails: 14 trails (6 intermediate, 8 easy)
- Distance: 30 miles of singletrack
- Trailhead: Google map
- Best for: Happy hour loops
- Recommended route: North Table loop. Per mtbproject.com: Overall, this is a nice mellow ride that feels somewhat remote, despite being right on the edge of town. There’s a decent amount of climbing, so the ride isn’t trivial, but it’s not technical, and it’s straightforward to follow.
Overlooking the front range from the high point of the Centennial Cone loop. Photo credit
It’s easy to fall in love with the cone. The riding is beautiful, fun and straightforward. Aside from a handful of spur trails, riding the cone means circling the 17-mile loop trail, which takes riders through craggy hilltops, fields of wildflowers and thick pine forests. Just note that weekend riding is closed to riders on odd numbered days, and the loop is unrideable January through mid-June because a 3-mile section is closed for elk calving.
- Trails: 7 trails (4 intermediate, 3 easy)
- Distance: 20 miles of singletrack
- Best for: pretty, flowy, crushable riding
- Recommended ride: Centennial Cone Loop. Per mtbproject.com: Built in 2006, these trails are great examples of modern, purpose-built recreation trails. They are smooth, flowy, and not eroding as most seem to do in the front range. They also take you through great scenery. All the trails on the Centennial Cone Loop are technically easy, but the long climbs and precipitous drop-offs might not be suitable for beginners.
The app you need
Ready to dig deeper into Golden trails? You’ll want the right app for ride planning and mid-ride map checks. That app is TrailForks. Free on Apple and Google Play, Trailforks has the largest database of mountain bike trails in the world. The app has every feature you need: offline maps, GPS tracking, elevation profiles, and user-submitted content on current trail conditions. Download it and thank us later 😃
You can rent a mountain bike from several shops around Golden. We like the Golden Bike Shop. Specializing in mountain bikes, these guys rock the best brands including Santa Cruz, Pivot Cycles, Yeti Cycles, Salsa Cycles, Mondraker and more. Rentals range from XS to XXL and the team take their time to dial in the best bike for you. Rentals are popular so try to reserve yours at least a week in advance!
Alright. You’ve got the bike, the app, the trail … now what are you waiting for? Oh. A post-ride beer recommendation? We’ve got you covered.
Did we miss your favorite trail? Let us know in the comments.