Flagstaff Mountain is a quad-burning, lung-busting climb that somehow still manages to put a smile on your face. As you muscle up the hill, enjoy stellar views of Boulder to the east and the Indian Peaks to the west.
Road biking an 11% grade may not seem like a big deal to your friends but it’s all your quads will be talking about after riding up Flagstaff Road. Mileage-wise, it’s just under 5 miles from the start of the climb to the highest point but elevation-wise, get ready for a fierce 2,140 ft. of lung-busting fun. The wide shoulder and smooth pavement are in your favor, as are the locals who are used to having roadies grinding up and flying down this classic Boulder ride.
What Makes It Great
When you are ready to tackle this beastly climb, prepare for a non-stop push around hairpin switchbacks and some of the most spectacular views of Boulder around. The steady, unrelenting climb is an awesome gauge of fitness for roadies ready to tackle Colorado’s high mountain roads. Along the way, there’s plenty to see and as you ascend, you’ll pass into vanilla-scented pine forests that offer sneak peeks of the Indian Peak mountains through their gnarled branches. Even veteran cyclists feels a sense of satisfaction when the top is attained.
While it’s tough, once you find your rhythm, Flagstaff becomes a trance of breathing and pedaling and before you know it, the top levels off and you’re ready for a screaming descent back into town.
The uphill portion of Flagstaff Road will win you bragging rights but the descent is equally as challenging. Many riders complete this ride with their forearms burning (from clutching the brakes) more than their legs! Make no bones about it: the downhill is speedy, tight and dangerous enough that you’ll want to stay in control by checking your velocity and anticipating corners. But it’s also a ton of fun and a nice counterpoint to the slow grind to the top.
Who is Going to Love It
Mountain climbing on a road bike is an acquired taste and for those who favor a tough workout, Flagstaff Road delivers in spades. Assuming you value your cardiovascular system, the pure pump of the sustained, steep climbing will be heaven for uphill-a-holic road bikers. Likewise, those who enjoy a screaming descent with some real spice will relish the second half of the adventure.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are no fees to ride the road. Many people park at Chautauqua Park and begin the ride from there, another good parking spot is the Gregory Canyon parking area.