Tuesday morning bright and early, I drove to West Trailhead of the Glenwood Canyon Trail. This is a 14.4 mile concrete trail that follows I 70 through Glenwood Canyon along the Colorado River. This is an incredible trail. It is relatively flat with only a couple of steep places with the total rise being about 900 feet over the 14 miles. As an aside, it may just be me, but the visual perspective on several portion of the ride is that you are going downhill even though you are riding up the river. It can be disorientating. How can you go down as you go up?
The ride is really interesting, starting at the rest area at exit 119 you drop down to the trail and quickly find yourself riding along with cars, busses, semi’s, trains and the river through one awesome canyon. The imagination, engineering and construction that went into this marvel is very impressive. Each of the I 70 rest areas in the canyon are on the trail so even if you can’t take in the whole trail you can easily walk sections and it is worth it!
My ride began early in the morning so there were not very many people on the trail and I had it to myself almost to Hanging Lake, where I met a fine gentleman named John. We had a nice conversation at the rest area. He volunteers for Histori Corps rebuilding historical structures. He is working on the parks north of Denver. He took a break for lunch as I forged on upriver and he later zipped past me on his way back to his car.
It is hard to decribe what it feels like to be riding alongside the river and under the interstate. Riding through the river falls area is so loud you can not hear yourself talk as the water crashes through this section of the canyon. You can “feel” the water hitting the boulders. At one place where I stopped to take pictures the mist was heavy from the crashing waters and the sound drowned out the road noise just above my head. While I 70 and the railroad go through a couple of sets of tunnels, the trail follows the river going through only man made tunnels crossing under the interstate.
It was surprising to find a generating station along the trail. Never saw it when we drove through. Of course, I did not know there was a dam at Hanging Lake either, as I 70 is in a tunnel for that section. The trailhead came up quickly and ended just before Destoro. Took a break and used the vault toilets before heading back. I had lunch at the Hanging Lake rest area and by now there were dozens of folks walking up the trail to the Hanging Lake trail. Looked like they were all getting ready for some serious hiking!
Going back was an easier ride downhill but still just as exhilarating. The pictures do not do justice to the wonder of this trail. It did not seem like 28 miles round trip. I hope you enjoy the pictures and thanks for reading.