Lookout Mountain Cycling Hazards

Bicycling on Lookout Mountain can be hazardous, even for the best-prepared and experienced cyclists. Every descending cyclist should always expect the unexpected around every blind corner because vehicle drivers often cross the center line to pass ascending riders. The vehicle coming toward you may completely occupy your lane. The following are a few of the negative experiences that have happened to cyclists. Unfortunately we actually depend on you, the readers, to add to this list of bad experiences to help educate new riders about the caution necessary to stay safe riding the mountain.

Scroll down to view the cycling hazards.

Cars or other vehicles in the wrong lane

Unfortunately, some drivers don’t understand the possibly dangerous results of passing cyclists or a slower moving vehicle on a blind corner. Every cyclist must be aware when entering a blind stretch of the road that he/she may encounter a vehicle (or another cyclist, runner, walker, or wildlife) in his/her lane. Right-of-way is a legal term that may be used after a serious accident, but prevention starts with a cyclist’s constant anticipation of an obstruction occupying the same lane as the bicycle underneath him or her. You may race uphill. Ride downhill cautiously as if your life depends on it. Actually it does….both ways.

Earlier is safer

Cyclist riding Lookout Mountain before 11:00 AM usually encounter the least traffic.

Take Care

Cyclists should also take care not to force vehicles into the opposing lane. Even with plenty of room, many drivers still go into the oncoming lane to pass cyclists.

More Signage

We will lobby the Jefferson County Road and Bridge for more signage to alert drivers (especially on days of the week when there are relatively few cyclists) to be aware and cautious of the bicycle traffic. Again……there is no bike lane on the road up Lookout Mountain. Days or times of the day when the bicycle traffic is low can be the most dangerous for cyclists. Drivers may not anticipate oncoming bicycle traffic.

Collisions with wildlife

Riders on Lookout Mountain rarely ride without seeing mule deer along and/or on the road. These deer have lost all fear of cyclists, runners, and vehicles. They frequently decide to cross the road just as you arrive and they are usually are slow to yield the right-of-way – if they do at all.

Many other wildlife species are present on Lookout Mountain. A few that are less frequently sighted, but with which you don’t want to collide include red fox, elk, mountain lion, black bear, squirrels (the black Aberts squirrel never seems to know which way to go), and bighorn sheep. Other small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians are frequently seen along or on the road. Leave rattlesnakes alone and they will do likewise. Various bees and wasps occasionally end up in cycling jerseys, especially on the descent- and that is an experience you will not soon forget.


The cliffs and hillsides along the road shed rocks of various sizes onto the roadway year-around, but especially during freeze-thaw cycles in the spring and after a rain. The worst rockfalls can completely block the road. Cyclist should be very watchful for rockfalls on blind corners, especially in the lower parts of the Clear Creek Canyon.

P.S. Sometimes friendships can develop from the simple act of a good deed. I (Chuck) met Scott Hoffner more than ten years ago as we cleared large boulders from the road down low on the east side to keep any car or bicycle from having a possibly damaging accident. The largest border required the efforts of four of us to move it off the road.

Man-made hazards

Broken glass (often the remnants of beer bottles) and other debris on the roadway can result in flat tires, or other bike damage that can result in injury to a cyclist. Expect the unexpected. If you see a hazard that may cause an injury, please remove the obstacle before another cyclist unexpectedly encounters the obstacle. You may not receive credit, but consider that another cyclist may do the same for you- also without receiving credit.

High Speeds

The speed limit on Lookout Mountain is 20 mph (32 km/hr). In the past the Jefferson County Sheriff”s Department has ticketed some two-wheeled speeders, including cyclists, on Lookout Mountain. This speed limit is important for descending cyclists to observe to keep them safe as they approach blind corners. Keeping your hands close to your brake levers is a habit you will learn sooner or later while descending the mountain. Please do not learn this lesson the hard way.

If you can average 20 mph while riding up Lookout, you probably bought yourself an electric bike and are getting a few sidelong glances as you pass the human powered models because your ride seems so effortless.

The relatively steep grade, about 5.3%, allows a descending cyclist to quickly reach a speed which cannot be maintained around many hairpin corners. High downhill speeds also reduce the time available to react to vehicles, wildlife encounters, etc. Cyclists must insure that they have adequate braking capability before making the descent. Please be courteous and safe and announce your presence if you must past slower cyclists-on their left– on the descent.

It is more impressive to ride up as quickly as you can rather than freewheeling down as fast as you dare. Please remain in control of your bicycle- and your grinning self- at all times while cycling Lookout Mountain. Do your best to insure that the bright Ipana smile that you sport at the bottom of the hill after the ride (or rides) is still composed of your original set of dietary choppers.

Weather Hazards

The weather on Lookout Mountain can be calm, spectacularly interesting, or deadly. Riding up Lookout Mountain on a day with low clouds and riding out above the clouds at the top is an experience not to be forgotten. Getting caught in a wind, snow, or lightning storm is also not forgettable.

Click on a weather box below for more information.

Cold Fronts



You are sharing the road with the cars and trucks. One of the reasons that cyclists ride here is that there is limited commuter traffic, but the drivers who do take this road are often tourists heading up to see Buffalo Bill’s Grave. Out of town folk may not be savvy about safe mountain driving. In fact they may be deadly impatient to pass a slow cyclist. Ascending cyclists who ride double and do not move to single file as a car approaches from behind aggravate the situation for the descending cyclists when the car must swing even wider to pass.

Riding lookout mountain in the snow
road Lookout Mountain
Lookout Mountain Sunrise

Assume cars have right-of-way

As an absolutely practical consideration, consider that cars always have the right of way. Cyclists never win confrontations with cars. They are too powerful and they weigh too much.

Do not cross the yellow line

Please call out “on your left” when passing another cyclist

Never ride between cyclists

when attempting to pass unless they know you are there.

Many of the fleet cars with red Colorado license plates are rental cars.

They may not be familiar with mountain driving.  Especially crossing the yellow  line to pass a cyclist when approaching a blind corner.

Many driver’s education cars

use Lookout Mountain.  They are normally very cautious.

The speed limit

The speed limit on Lookout Mountain is 20 miles per hour. When descending on a bicycle, unless you are cautiously feathering your brakes, you can easily exceed that speed. If a car traveling up the mountain is passing cyclists riding two abreast, it will be well over the yellow line and your closing speed could be way too fast- too fast for a cyclist to react and avoid a collision. Ending up in a rocky drainage ditch might be the only option (not an especially desirable one, however) to avoid a car/bike collision. Please consider this scenario ahead of your descent. Anticipate that the approaching motorist around the next blind corner is driving up Lookout for the very first time and is not anticipating the startling approach of you and your favorite two wheel ride…..i.e. also consider your bike’s future on Lookout.

Descend with care

Ride up as fast as you wish, but please ride single file if there are cars behind you, A descending cyclist’s ’s life may depend on it. ALWAYS ride down cautiously.

A lot of cyclists

On a weekend we have counted 155 riders going up Lookout while we were riding down (a 14 minute segment of the bike traffic that day). The bike to car ratio that day was nine to one.


COLORFUL CLOTHING AND FRONT AND REAR LIGHTS MAKE YOU MUCH MORE VISIBLE TO MOTORISTS. If you decide to wear a black jacket, wear bright socks pulled up high. Their up and down motion catches a driver’s attention.

Try the drive

If you want to experience how much patience a motorist needs to negotiate Lookout during a high cycling day, drive it yourself during a Saturday or Sunday in the mid-morning. Make your driving decisions with extreme care.

Road Conditions

The first half mile has been repaved as of summer 2020. The surface is excellent. The rest of the climb was repaved a few years back before the the Pro Cycling Challenge used the climb as part of their course. It is a bit rougher, but in good cycling shape,


  • Gloves (short or long finger)
  • Helmet (preferably with rear view mirror to keep track of the cars behind you)
  • Jacket (sometimes more than one)
  • Shoes for your bike (and shoe covers if necessary)