Lefthand Canyon to Ward Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Lefthand Canyon to Ward

CO, USA

All the cycling data and info you'll need to climb Lefthand Canyon to Ward

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Climb Summary


Cycling Left Hand Canyon to Ward

Ride 16.7 miles gaining 3,685’ at 4.2% average grade.

Cycling Left Hand Canyon, Boulder, Colorado - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked against road sign warning of wild pigs, views of wide open plains, PJAMM cycling SAG van driving near two cyclists on the road, van stopped next to Share the Road sign

Climb begins by riding west on Left Hand Canyon from its T intersection with Highway 36.

Left Hand Canyon is a Top 200 US Climb and one of the most popular bike climbs in the Boulder, Colorado area.  The climb follows Left Hand Creek until Left Hand Canyon turns into Indiana Gulch Road at mile 15.  While we do not see the creek the entire climb, we are close enough to hear it, and when we don’t hear the creek, we hear the wind blowing through the trees that fill the canyon.  This is a very calming and peaceful ride.  

    Cycling Left Hand Canyon, Boulder, Colorado - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked along creekside

The grade rarely approaches double digits and is fairly mild throughout.  The toughest section of the climb begins just before you reach Ward at a sharp right turn where Sawmill Rd, a popular mountain biking road, intersects with Left Hand Turn Road at around mile 15 -- this segment is 1.6 miles at 8.5% gradient.

Cycling Left Hand Canyon, Boulder, Colorado - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, PJAMM Cycling white SAG van, cyclist on road next to wooden sign for Buckingham Park, City of Boulder, cyclist on road riding bike under American flag, two cyclists riding next to large rock sign for Lefthand Fire Protection District, cyclist riding on shoulder next to road sign for Steep and Narrow Road, no large trucks allowed

Photos from the middle section of the climb, before Ward.

Cycling Left Hand Canyon, Boulder, Colorado - PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked in grass next to large wooden sign for Roosevelt National Forest

National Forest sign at mile 3.5.

Cycling Left Hand Canyon, Boulder, Colorado - PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, road signs for Lefthand Canyon Drive and Ward and Jamestown

Be sure to make the left turn to Ward at mile five.

Cycling Left Hand Canyon, Boulder, Colorado - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked against various unique mailbox arrangements

You are close when you pass the jumble of mailboxes on your right.

Cycling Left Hand Canyon, Boulder, Colorado - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, views of town of Ward, road sign of person reading a book, bike parked against weathered road sign for congested Area, old shell of rusted out car in grass on side of road, white and red building with sign for Snowshoe rental

Pass through Ward (pop. 155; 2017) at mile 16.

Finish 4/10’s of a mile past the market at Peak to Peak Highway

Cycling Left Hand Canyon, Boulder, Colorado - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked against old red rusted piece of equipment

Depending on your point of view, there is either a lot of junk in and around Ward . . .

. . . or, in our opinion, a lot of relics and interesting road art.

Cycling Left Hand Canyon, Boulder, Colorado - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike pumps in Utica Street Market, menu at Utica Street Market, outside view of Utica Street market

This is a bicycle friendly venue as is evidenced by not one,

 but three bicycle pumps available on site for use to anyone with a need.  

Cycling Left Hand Canyon, Boulder, Colorado - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, roadsigns along the roadway reading: "Shoulder Ends", "Be aware, pass with care", "Single File in Lefthand Canyon", and "30 MPH Single File at Curves"

This is a high-cyclists route.  We know this from: (a) seeing many cyclists on the route on an early Monday afternoon, (b) there are more unique cycling road signs on this route than we have ever seen before, and (c) according to volunteered comments by the eclectic owner of the popular Utica Street Market in Ward, 200-300 cyclists per day stop at his place on the weekends during good weather.

Finish at Peak to Peak Highway (Hwy 72)

The Left Hand Canyon to Brainard Lake route continues another 5 miles past this point.

Roadway Surface and Traffic Report:  The road has no shoulder for much of the climb, yet this is never an issue as there is not much traffic along the route, and the speed limit is a maximum of 35 (reducing to 15 mph as we near and enter Ward).