For some reason, Sugarloaf Road is the red headed stepchild of our cycling routes. When deciding on a ride we rarely through it out as an option, and when someone does the response is usually a mix of groans and eye rolling. Sugarloaf is the pain in the ass ride that we all know exists, rarely want to deal with and prefer to avoid for more promising options (we apologize if you actually are a red headed stepchild. We think you are amazing. We love you. More than your parents do).
However, as the red headed stepchild is often the swan of the children, Sugarloaf has a combination of elements that make it one of the better out and backs in Boulder. The ride is scenic, has very little traffic, a lot of great climbing and the descent can be incredibly fast. So why don’t we usually consider it as a viable option? It is a pain in the ass to get to; requiring a somewhat lengthy ride up Boulder Canyon Drive/CO-119, where peace loving Boulderites turn into Subaru encased missiles. The narrow shoulders and rough pavement make heading up Canyon Drive more daunting than getting to rides like Sunshine or Flagstaff, but once on Sugarloaf Road, the near miss of the 18-Wheeler quickly fades from memory (unless you pooped your pants, then it sort of stays with you until the end).
Sugarloaf starts steep, quickly gaining altitude as it climbs up to a cool little valley that provides decent shade during the summer months. The road levels out in the valley before turning into a long gradual climb that eventually works it way into a long sustained climb that lasts for about 1 mile. This section of the road is also where some of us have reached our fastest descending speeds (Fat guy, spandex, missile like exhaust. Awesome). We typically turn around at the intersection of Sugarloaf and Boulder View Road, about 9.14 miles from the start. However, the road remains paved for a couple more miles before turning to dirt, and will eventually link up to the Peak to Peak Highway/CO-72.
Distance: 9.14 miles from start (9th and Pearl Street). 18.28 miles roundtrip
Directions: Sugarloaf is the next road after Magnolia. From 9th and Pearl head South on 9th and hop on the Boulder Creek Path. Take the path West until it dead ends at Boulder Canyon Drive (there is some dirt riding involved). Head left up Boulder Canyon Drive for 2.3 miles. Sugarloaf Road will be on your right.