|   Rate it:

Level: Beginner
Length: 17 mi (27.4 km)
Surface: Fire Road
Configuration: Lariat
Elevation: +1,632/ -1,649 ft
Total: 368 riders

Mountain Biking Waterton Canyon

****   Add a review
#121 of 1,348 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#823 in the world

This is really two different trails. The first, the Waterton Canyon trail, is a wide gravel road that gradually climbs along the S. Platte River. This is a nice place to ride with the family and get some fishing in. The second trail is the Colorado Trail loop. This trail starts at the end of the gravel road, about 6 miles from the parking lot. Take this loop counter-clockwise and be sure to take a look at the map at the trailhead before you get started. This trail has a ton of switchbacks but it is all totally rideable. Lots of trees and very well maintained singletrack. This loop has a good bit of climbing (especially compared to the first 6 miles on gravel road). You'll probably climb a little over 1000 feet on this loop. A great workout and a very fun and scenic trail.

First added by Jeff Barber on Jun 18, 2003. Last updated May 7, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: yes
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
From Denver, take 470 west towards littleton. Exit at Wadsworth Blvd (CO 121). Go about 4 miles and follow the signs to the park. Park in the lot on the left. The trail starts on the opposite side of the road.
System trails (1)
I Rode It!   Add to another list

Waterton Canyon Trail map

Add to or improve this map // Share this map on your website

Local Info

Club Sponsor


Trail checkins

Upcoming Events

Add one

Trail conditions

Good (on Aug 24, 2019)
login to update

Camping & Lodging

Coming soon!

Waterton Canyon videos

Add a video
We don't have any videos of this trail yet. Add one here.

Mountain Bike Trails Near Littleton, Colorado

| 26 mi
Beginner | 0 mi
| 0 mi
Intermediate | 0 mi

Rider questions

Q: Trail map?
A: Singletracks has a topo map for Waterton Canyon but you'll need to subscribe for access (earn just 30 contribution points to subscribe or purchase instant access). If you don't need a full blown topo, the CO Trail Foundation has a simple map of the trails around the Waterton Canyon area here: http://www.coloradotrail.org/forms/Seg1Map_Singletrack_Dogs.pdf

Q: is this open now?

Add a review



  • DanOxender

    As people will tell you, this is two trails. The first 6 miles is super easy. Take your non-mountain biking pal there as an intro. 6 miles along a river, 30 foot wide graded dirt road, 3/4 % grade max, can run into mountain goats/sheep.

    At the top of the road, there is a wonderful Dam. Worlds biggest mist air-conditioner. Really pretty. Some picknic tables on the way up.

    When you get to the top, things get serious. A lot of selections from a "little" 4 mile loop with serious climbs/rocks, technical descents. A fairly long 24 mile loop which I haven't attempted. Plenty for everyone. About 1.5 hours with the short loop at the top and lots of fun.

    Reply | Thank
  • kasei21

    Great for those who are brand new to mountain biking, families, or for anyone else who wants a chill ride. From the parking lot to the dam is a gravel road, super wide, and nothing technical. It can get a little crowded but as you get further up the road it definitely thins out. Dam is pretty cool to check out and there are additional miles of more challenging terrain beyond it. Every time I've hiked or ridden this trail we've seen big horn sheep.

    Reply | Thank
  • Trekrider882

    ATTENTION: Waterton Canyon is closed. I didn't see a "closed until" date posted. Check water management website for more info.

    Reply | Thank
  • chefmark

    Great views the whole way. The first six miles are wide road grade of packed gravel to the dam. Then the Colorado connector turns into singletrack.

    Reply | Thank
  • bigAD

    A nice place to ride with the kids. Lots of wildlife viewing opportunities.

    Reply | Thank
  • Kirk Keling

    Waterton is a nice ride up a graded raod for 6 miles. Beautiful views, wild life and other people. Can be crowded on weekends, but weekdays are always nice. Singletrack is great if you take the loop, go counter clockwise to enjoy it better. Have fun.

    Reply | Thank
  • jordanlane93

    It's a great ride, I didn't go all the way up but it's very pretty. Super super busy though!

    Reply | Thank
  • mtbmac

    Nice easy ride we just rode the wide road portion up to the damn and back its about a 14 mile round trip , very very easy riding with plenty of bathrooms along this part of the trail! Saw big horn sheep beautiful area!

    Reply | Thank
  • BluGnat

    I'm a super new beginner to mountain biking (on actual trails) - but someone else's beginner review helped me, hence me posting a review for fellow beginners out there. This trail was GREAT to get a taste of trail mountain biking. The snow on the last half of the loop, past Lenny's Rest was a bit of a bummer, but what can we expect this time of year. I have high hopes of re-riding the trail over and over until I'm proficient. Perfect beginner trail - but I'll bet more experienced people fly through it and love it, too.

    Reply | Thank
  • ShaleBreaker

    First off, I am a novice rider, for whatever that is worth. As others have said, the first 6.2 miles is smooth gravel up to the Strontia Springs Dam. After that the trail gets a bit more interesting. A seemingly endless stretch of uphill switchbacks will bring you to Lennys Rest. A few tricky spots, but the uphill is the challenge here. I elected to take a left at the Roxborough Loop, which after a few left turns will eventually lead you back to Waterton Canyon. A few rocky sections and some large roots along the way, nothing too crazy.

    Reply | Thank
  • Greg Heil   ✓ supporter

    Temporary closure: "Hikers, walkers, runners and bikers won't have access to Waterton Canyon for most of next week while Denver Water does some annual maintenance. The dust mitigation project will close the canyon from Tuesday, May 6 through Friday, May 9, the utility said in a news release. Both the canyon and the parking lot will be closed for recreation until Saturday, May 10 at 7 a.m."

    Reply | Thank
  • tetontom

    If you're looking for a 12-mile gravel road out&back w/ nice views, and close to home, then by all means go do it.

    Reply | Thank
  • tikigoddess

    The Waterton Canyon trail itself is a 6.3 mile dirt road that goes through the South Platte River system to the Strontia Springs reservoir. This stretch of the trail is, as rated, a beginner trail. It is perfect for weekends with the family as the roads are wide and very flat. It can be rather boring for the experienced mountain biker. In my experience, only this part of the trail can be considered "beginner". What follows after the end of the huge dirt road is a series of trails connected to the Colorado Trail 1776. Once you start your uphill ascent past a residential area (about 2 or 3 houses along the trail) you will hit Lenny's Rest which marks the beginning of a grueling 2.3 mile uphill climb. Once you get to the top there will be trails that connect to either the Indian Creek Trail or the Roxborough State Park Trail. Take the Roxborough Trail to do the loop back to Waterton Canyon. We went to do this trail 2 days after a snow storm. It had been sunny the days before that and we thought the trails would have dried by then but we were wrong. This trail is tough to begin with, huge drops, rocks and roots will give you quite a challenge. To add to that we had mud and snow as well! The switchbacks on this trail is tough and the uphills do not seem to stop. I wiped out about twice trying to steer through the tough sections of this trail and it was not pleasant. This section is about 4 miles around with a few scenic areas, streams and plenty of wildlife to see. If you are an inexperienced beginner, I do not recommend that you try this trail specially not when it is wet and snowy. For everyone out there out for an aerobic challenge, go ahead, it'll be worth your while.

    Reply | Thank
  • wigg006

    Rode this trail today 9-17-2012, rode back to the dam and then did the CO Trail to Roxbourogh park trail loop!! HOLY CRAP was there alot of hard uphill with some really good downhill, just didn't think there was enough downhill reward for all the punishing uphill :( . All in all the trail was fun with lots of great picture taking!!

    Reply | Thank
  • djlarroc

    Rode WtC on 3/10. Lot's of people. Pretty mild ride, w/a very slight climb that does get your HR going. Beautiful views. Made it to 1776, but too much snow. Will go back in a few mos.

    Reply | Thank
  • runaroundaroo

    Just FYI - Waterton Canyon is back open as of March 1st, although it is to be closed for about three weeks some time in the spring to remove more equipment. At the moment the trails are dry up until the Colorado Trail.

    Reply | Thank
  • Corey Maddocks   ✓ supporter

    Fireroad in...singletrack out.

    This is a good trail to ride with the family, as they can come back the fireroad while the adrenaline junkies come back the singletrack.

    However, it is closed for 2011 for work by the Denver Water Co.

    Reply | Thank
  • jrkronstein

    Gravel road next to the Platte, lots of mountain goats. Great for out of town sea-level'ers.

    Reply | Thank
  • Gr8lizzard

    The first 6-7 miles to the dam are great for family leisurely or beginner rides. Because of the group we were with we did not do anything more than just getting to the dam this time. Can't wait for it to open again.

    Reply | Thank
  • sdelano26

    The 6 mile road leading up to the dam will be closed for the better part of 2010 and most of 2011!!! Check out the following website for dates. http://www.denverwater.org/Recreation/WatertonCanyon/. So basicly the loop descibed here will not be accessible. You can still access the Indian Creek trail from the trailhead off of Highway 67 west of Sedalia (I think you have to pay $4 to park there). * Review edited 7/2/2010* Review edited 7/2/2010

    Reply | Thank