Bicycling Magazine

Boulder, CO: Sunshine Canyon Loop 

Cramming 6,000-feet of climbing into 42 miles, this loop kicks off with a stiff climb from Boulder proper up to the quirky mountain berg of Gold Hill.

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Author: Bicycling Magazine
Date: 29 Jun 2009 10:09:17 PM
Activity: Bicycling
State: Colorado (CO)
Distance: 42.02 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 5954 ft
Total Loss: 5955 ft
Net Change: -1 ft
Difficulty: 9 / 10
Tags: Boulder, Colorado, Denver
Rating: Unrated   Rate it

One of Boulder's most scenic roads, Sunshine Canyon is also one of its least ridden for several reasons. First, it starts right from town with little (if any) warm-up. Second; it's damn hard (gaining over 3,000 feet in its first 9 miles). Third, most of it isn't even paved.

After the first 5.7 miles of climbing up Sunshine Canyon, the road turns to hard-pack and wash-board dirt for the remaining 3.8 miles to Gold Hill. The climbing gets tough here, but the views of Indian Peaks right from the road are unparalled on any of Boulder's other canyon roads. Take a breather at the town's general store, and then continue west on Gold Hill Road headed towards the Peak-to-Peak Highway. The dirt road continues undulating upwards and a few of its steeper stretches also happen to be strewn with loose gravel.

Back on pavement on Peak-to-Peak, turn north to ride along the generous road shoulder up a few more hundred feet to Ward (Note: this stretch can be windy and exposed). Refuel in Ward at the Utica Street Market (a popular cyclist destination), and then descend Left Hand Canyon back to Boulder.

-Mapped by Kim Phillips and Mark Harrison

TO TRAILHEAD: This ride departs from the corner of 4th St. and Mapleton Ave. in Boulder.

Position Format: Datum:

Sunshine Canyon Loop

Distance: 42.02 mi Points: 942
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
# Distance Instruction Distance to next
1 0.17 mi Continue on Sunshine Canyon Dr Then go 9.05 mi
2 9.22 mi Continue on Horsfall St Then go 0.27 mi
3 9.48 mi Continue on Main St Then go 0.28 mi
4 9.76 mi Slight right at Gold Hill Rd Then go 4.38 mi
5 14.15 mi Turn left to stay on Gold Hill Rd Then go 2.24 mi
6 16.39 mi Turn right at CO-72/Peak To Peak Hwy Then go 3.40 mi
7 19.79 mi Turn right at Utica St Then go 0.25 mi
8 20.04 mi Turn left to stay on Utica St Then go 1.55 mi
9 21.60 mi Continue on Lefthand Canyon Dr Then go 9.90 mi
10 31.49 mi Turn right to stay on Lefthand Canyon Dr Then go 2.71 mi
11 34.20 mi Turn right at Olde Stage Rd Then go 3.11 mi
12 37.31 mi Slight right at Lee Hill Dr Then go 0.82 mi
13 38.12 mi Continue on Lee Hill Rd Then go 0.48 mi
14 38.60 mi Turn right at Broadway St/CO-7 Then go 1.07 mi
15 39.67 mi Turn right at Poplar Ave Then go 0.26 mi
16 39.93 mi Turn left at Wonderland Hill Ave Then go 0.65 mi
17 40.58 mi Turn Right - Linden Ave. Then go 0.03 mi
18 40.61 mi Turn Left - Bike Path Then go 0.14 mi
19 40.74 mi Straight - 4th Street

Points of Interest

Mapleton Memorial Hospital

Location: 40.020516, -105.292497
© Kim Phillips

Rock Outcrops in Sunshine Canyon

Location: 40.020672, -105.295329
© Kim Phillips

Sunshine Canyon Drive

Location: 40.032337, -105.323327
© Kim Phillips

Climbing Sunshine Canyon

Location: 40.036783, -105.327032
© Kim Phillips

Indian Peak Views

Location: 40.048347, -105.343587
© Kim Phillips

Pavement Ends

Location: 40.056141, -105.362642
© Kim Phillips

Dirt Road

Location: 40.056469, -105.363135
© Kim Phillips

Views from Sunshine Canyon Drive

Location: 40.056560, -105.363275
© Kim Phillips

Overlook on Sunshine Canyon Drive

Location: 40.071616, -105.387541
© Kim Phillips

Descending Sunshine Canyon Road

Location: 40.071608, -105.387565
© Kim Phillips

Views of Indian Peaks

Location: 40.071600, -105.387586
© Kim Phillips

Views of Indian Peaks

Location: 40.071025, -105.388665
© Kim Phillips

Gold Hill, Colorado

Location: 40.063991, -105.407488
© Kim Phillips

The Red Store

Location: 40.063392, -105.408277
© Kim Phillips

Gold Hill Store

Location: 40.063326, -105.409988
© Kim Phillips

Gold Hill Road

Location: 40.058348, -105.428117
© Kim Phillips

Steep Climb on Gold Hill Road

Location: 40.042345, -105.503430
© Kim Phillips

Descent to Peak To Peak

Location: 40.042778, -105.511837
© Kim Phillips

Descent to Peak To Peak

Location: 40.042737, -105.511923
© Kim Phillips

Peak To Peak Highway

Location: 40.045686, -105.516365
© Kim Phillips

Utica Street Market

Location: 40.073375, -105.506623
© Kim Phillips

Ward, Colorado

Location: 40.073281, -105.506709
© Kim Phillips

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