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Front Range - Estes Park
Lyons to Estes Park LoopType: Road Ride
Start elevation: 5,371 ft.
Highest elevation: 10,500 ft. +/-
Total climb: over 5,300 ft.
End elevation: 5,371 ft.
Total miles: 55
This cycling adventure starts in the town of Lyons Colorado nestled between Boulder on the south and Estes Park on the north. It starts out of Meadow Park located at the intersection of HW 7 and Railroad Ave. just west of town. When exiting Meadow Park head right, south along Hwy 7 also know as S. Saint Vrain Drive towards Allenspark. Here you will have the sights and sounds of canyon riding while the South St. Vrain River cascades its way out of the Rockies eastward. At times, mostly in early spring, the roar can be thunderous as the river narrows through the rocks. The road surface is smooth and has enough room for cars to pass with plenty of shoulder room. You will approach the intersection of Hwy 72 known as the Peak to Peak Highway (you will revisit that road on another day). Proceed on Hwy 7 to Allenspark at the 19 mile mark. If you wish you can take a break here, if needed. The views from the surrounding landscape will be worth a more than a glancing look. Allenspark is located on the south eastern border of Rocky Mountain National Park in North Boulder County just south of the Larimer County line. Continue on Hwy 7 towards Estes Park and along this ride the views continue to grow as do the peaks you will see. You will be at the foot of Longs Peak that towers upward at 14,259 ft. above sea level. Take time to enjoy this Rocky Mountain spectacle from several vantage points along the way. Before descending in to Estes Park you will come across Camp Saint Malo, known as The Chapel on the Rock. Although this religious site is Catholic by denomination, it is worth a look for any spiritually grounded individual. Erected in the mid 1930's upon a "rock", the church was built. As you descend into Estes Park your attention will shift to the road. Your speed will increase as the descent begins. Dropping rapidly along switchbacks and straights, you will have enough time to look at Estes Park as it becomes more in focus. There is a wonderful Visitors Center located at the bottom of the hill at the intersection of Hwy 7 and US 36. You will be on the west side of Lake Estes and the Estes Park Golf Course. Please feel free to check out what they have to offer. Refill a water bottle and take the time to enjoy the Big Thompson River as it flows by. You may also be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the town's largest inhabitants, the majestic elk. At times it seems as if they take over the town as they walk the streets with the bulls gathering their harems for future offspring. After a refreshing break- a well deserved one, it's all downhill from here back to Lyons (well almost). There is one short climb up and out. From here you will travel along Hwy 36 towards Lyons and Boulder. This section is one that will require focused attention. Once over the hill out of Estes, the road sways from left to right and back again offering tight switchbacks that will require some braking at times. Also during summer weekends RV traffic may be increased so use caution. The final 20 miles will fly by as you travel with the flow of the North Saint Vrain River toward the end of this fabulous loop back to Lyons. Be sure to visit some of the fine establishments in Lyons or hang out at Meadow Park itself for a little picnic with your family. See the Family Fun page for more detail about this region.