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.
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