Starting in downtown Denver and heading 40 miles southeast to Franktown, the Cherry Creek Trail is a true gift to the bikers, runners and walkers of the city. And based on the number whom we passed on our ride, they are well aware of it!
For the first five miles from downtown, from the scenic falls where the creek meets the Platte River, we rode nearly on the edge of the rock-strewn creek. The trail runs below street level, hence there are many overhead bridges and on/off ramps from nearby neighborhoods. We had to wonder what happened when the creek rose – the sign below was our answer.
Riding at 9am, most of the trail in the downtown area was shaded by the high-rise apartment and office buildings on the east side, but the trail is otherwise short on leafy canopies and is likely to be brutally hot mid-day. There was no shade whatsoever further along the trail (although we didn’t get to the very end). The creek’s path became less managed by rocky revetments after about seven miles, instead, alternately diverging and converging among beds of brown grass and scruffy plants. Except for occasional neighborhoods and the four golf course we passed, it definitely felt like we were riding in the Wild West now!
Prior to hitting the suburbs, we passed numerous homeless people lying under blankets aside the creek or tucked up under the eaves of bridges. More than we’ve come across in other cities. There were also retaining walls along both sides of the trail that featured both true works of art and plain old graffiti.
We had to stop at only one intersection where construction forced a slight detour; otherwise, we flew along the concrete path as it climbed almost imperceptibly out of town. The Cherry Creek trail is more like a network of paths, several of which we took accidentally because there is very little signage on the trail. A yellow painted line along the center of the trail helps at some of the Y’s and intersections, but it’s conspicuously missing at many of them.
We really enjoyed this trail and would have loved to have completed the 80-mile roundtrip but we were limited by both time constraints and lack of ambition. But in anticipation of doing the morning ride, we visited an excellent brewery right off the trail in Glendale the night before.
The Bull & Bush Brewery is a throwback to both America in 1971 and Great Britain in 1645 (that’s where the original pub upon which this one was based is located). While it initially opened as a restaurant with a tudor façade, heavy wood furnishings and blackwatch plaid carpeting, it wasn’t until 1997 that it became brewery, too (with a tudor façade, heavy wood furnishings and blackwatch plaid carpeting). Now, with almost 25 years of brewing experience, the Bull & Bush is turning out a wide variety of absolutely delicious beers! While we’ve often had to take it on faith that a beer contained certain fruit or herb flavors, here, the additives were imaginative, discernible and perfectly balanced. And we tried several!
Jim had one of best IPAs he’s encountered called “Man Beer,” an award-winning Britain-style IPA. He equated it with a richly flavored (and colored) West Coast style with strong malt and caramel notes. He also had their Big Ben Brown Ale, an English-style Noble Brown Ale, which was pleasantly smoky and light-bodied.
Kellie, who had initially claimed to be suffering “beer fatigue” (as if that’s a thing!) rallied when she tasted the selections in her flight: Waxxing for a Friend, an English-style summer ale with papaya and lemon; Barbe Rouge, a French saison with BBQ cuties (those are oranges); Golden Grahamburana, a golden ale brewed with Golden Graham and Meadow Foam honey and aged on Amburan wood staves (it was really good – and yes, it tasted likely graham crackers); and Coconoak, an Imperial Blonde Ale (13% ABV!) aged on French Limousine Chocolate oak staves and finished on toasted coconut. Kellie is a coconut fanatic and this both smelled and tasted like a beer macaroon.
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