When we first built our adaptive tandem bicycle (thanks to Roulez Cycles of Lynn, MA) that comes apart into three pieces (thanks to the S&S couplings that are built into the bike), my huband started dreaming of getting me (and the bike) out to the Glenwood Canyon rail trail. He hoped we could ride on the rail trail that traverses the canyon alongside the Colorado River. It took three years, but we finally made it out to the canyon, and set out on the trail.
The views were as glorious as he promised–2000+ foot limestone cliffs, pock-marked with caves worn into the limestone by the fast-moving Colorado River as it barrels through this magnificient area.
The rail trail is an engineering marvel–the canyon is quite narrow, with I-70 following the path of the river from one end of the canyon to the other. How the engineers managed to squeeze a rail trail into this tight space is something that has been written about extensively. It truly was awe inspiring to ride along the river as tractor trailers barreled along overhead (not quiet, but still awe inspiring!).
had a perfect, sky-blue day, pretty typical for this part of Colorado. We were able to ride about six miles on the trail, then met a barrier. Serious fires in the area a few years ago closed the railtrail and highway, with resulting landslides following that wreaking havoc in the area. On our visit construction crews were in the process of continuing to clean up and repair the damage, but it clearly was not safe to continue on the trail. We saw evidence along the way of rubble still on guard rails. We also could see where landslides had narrowed the river, creating rapids that were even more intense than what had been there previously.
We spent a full day in the Canyon, exploring both on our bike and on foot next to the river. The aspens along the river offered a glorious autumn display of color.
We even came across a large herd of sheep getting brought down from their summer pasture, headed to their winter shelter across the river. (Yes, there was a bridge that eased their passage across the river, and yes, they filled the entire bridge with the number of sheep in the herd.) We stayed out of their way!
While we were disappointed to miss visiting the quieter section of trail that goes through the canyon, away from the highway, we found so much else to enjoy in the Glenwood Canyon area that we did not feel cheated. We wish the construction crews good luck and perhaps some day we might even be able to return when the trail has been restored. Happy trails!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. The newest book is Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.