|The remains of the Castlewood Canyon Dam|
|Looking south along Cherry Creek|
To sweeten the deal, if you make the trek out to Castlewood Canyon there is a bunch more local history that's worth learning about. Franktown, the nearest community to Castlewood Canyon, was the original seat of Douglas County government, serving in that role from 1861 until 1863. Pike's Peak Grange No. 163 is located in Franktown and is listed on the national Register of Historic Places. The Cherry Creek Bridge, spanning Cherry Creek, is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is found immediately outside of Franktown within Castlewood Canyon State Park. The Russellville Gold Strike took place nearby, and during the Civil War Union and Confederate soldiers fought near the outskirts of Franktown.
If you're not into history then the scenery alone should get you down into this neck of the woods. Castlewood Canyon is a shallow canyon that has been cut into a bed of white limestone by Cherry Creek. The state park is also located at the northern tip of an area called the Black Forest, a part of the Palmer Divide. The Palmer Divide is a ridge that separates the watersheds of the Arkansas and Missouri/Platte Rivers. The Palmer Divide extends perpendicular to the Front Range and serves to create a series of micro-climates, lending to the creation of the Black Forest, a heavily wooded area of pine trees that is surrounded by relatively arid plans and grasslands. Even though this area is east of Denver, and almost everything east of Denver is flat and boring, this is a really great part of the state to visit. And it's close by, which means that you can probably get down here for some hiking of bicycling faster than you could get anywhere decent in the mountains.
|Downtown Denver, after the Castlewood Canyon Flood|
Getting There By Bike...
You could get all the way to Castlewood Canyon State Park by bike if you really wanted to, though it would take you most of a day to do it. The best way is to take the Cherry Creek Trail all the way south through Parker and into Franktown. It does in fact extend all the way down there, and then it's just a short hop over into the state park. Once you get to the park there are absolutely no paved roads, so some kind of wider tire is definitely required. But the area around here is gorgeous and you'll most likely be thee only cyclist on the road. And if you love exploring gravel and dirt roads on your bike (my new addiction), then this is the place to be.