Friday, July 15, 2011

Road-biking Denver's Northern Suburbs, Part 3: Thornton, Dacono, Fort Lupton

This third route in the "Road-biking Denver's Northern Suburbs" series is another loop through the farm lands north of the suburbs.

View Thornton, Dacono, Ft. Lupton in a larger map

The route begins at the ball fields on Holly Street, just south of 136th Ave. There is ample parking available, and it's a good spot to meet up with friends if you're going for a group ride. Construction is currently in progress to extend the complex with a skate park. There are several opportunities along the route for picking up snacks and drinks.

From Holly Street, go north and take 136th Avenue east to Colorado Blvd. From there, it's a long, straight shot up to SH 52. As you approach Dacono, the blue water tower just south of the highway becomes visible. Here we intersect with the Thornton, Erie, Dacono Loop from part 2. Combining the two makes for a nice, longer ride.

Colorado Blvd, south of Dacono
As in part 2, SH 52 is higher traffic than the rest of the route, but it's fairly moderate, at that. Heading east, the shoulder varies and is rough in places, but it's rideable throughout.

Just before Fort Lupton, you will cross the South Platte River before the underpass at US-85. Ride through town, through a couple of traffic lights, and turn left on what is variously known as Business US-85, County Road 27, or in these parts, South Denver Ave.

South Platte River, Fort Lupton
As you come near to Brighton, there is a large factory where wind turbine parts are manufactured. Sometimes the huge blades will be loaded onto railroad cars, ready for delivery.

The intersection at 168th provides another chance to extend the ride by heading east and following (in reverse) the Adams County Loop described in part 1.

Heading west on 168th Avenue, you will cross back over the river, past a concrete loading site, and then turn left onto Tucson. Here, and farther on Riverdale, there are some sand quarries which provide some large truck traffic, but I've never found it to be a problem.

From Tucson, turn right on Highway 7, or 160th Ave. Then take the first left onto Riverdale, just before the hill. The stretch along Riverdale is quite pleasant. At the stop sign near the golf course, turn right onto 128th, leading back to Holly Street and the end of the ride.

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