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The High Line Canal Trail is a popular stretch of path through Denver's southside suburbs, winding for 71 miles between Aurora and Roxborough State Park. The trail is owned and operated by Denver Water and follows the canal that keeps Denver watered. Other municipal agencies help manage the trail system. Horseback riding is permitted but regulations may vary in each town. Check with the local municipality for more details.
The trail passes through many parks, each of which offer different amenities (drinking fountains, picnic tables, restrooms, parking, recreation facilities). The trail is paved in Denver and Aurora but has a natural surface in South Suburban, Highlands Ranch, Chatfield, Cherry Hill and Greenwood Village.
Municipalities that manage the trail include:
Douglas County Parks, Trails and Building Grounds Division
Metro District of Highlands Ranch Parks and Open Space
South Suburban Parks and Recreation
Greenwood Village Parks, Trails and Recreation Department
Denver Parks and Recreation Department
Aurora Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department
Denver Water publishes a complete trail guide for sale locally. For access and parking information, click on the city links in the trial description.
Approaching Santa Fe is where the trail seems to become really neglected. No crossing assistance whatsoever across Santa Fe is extremely dangerous. Once across Santa Fe heading SW, the trail is extremely rutted and then ends in the middle of nowhere with no signage or any instruction on how to get to the Chatfield section. This section appears to be run/managed by Denver Water but I would highly avoid this area until improvements are made.
Entering at the southern end by Chatfield Reservoir, the trail is very rough dirt and gravel. After a couple miles the trail suddenly stops and there is a gap with no directions to connect to the rest of the trail. The trail headed north from hwy 470 is packed gravel and in nice condition with rural scenery. There are lots of road crossings and many areas where the trail is unmarked and leaves you hanging. You can't ride 71 miles straight through as the trail info implies.
I'm from Denver but don't live here anymore so I took the opportunity to enjoy part of the highline trail. I started at hampden and Colorado and followed the trail to easer. It's so beautiful that the miles sped by!
We rode this trail in mid-June 2013. We had some friends in south central Denver, and we got on the trail and rode 'about' 10-15 miles (of the 50-70 one CAN ride if motivated). It is / was mostly 'small gravel' (over a hard-packed-limerock/dirt-base)
- I suspect it's tougher if wet (we almost got rained-on)
but it was still excellent even on street-racer (700x23) tires. The scenery, (houses, fields, pastures, trees, canal, etc. was excellent, overall a very enjoyable experience.
I would definitely like to ride more of this famous Denver ride. Denver has many other rides, we did NOT get a chance to try-out - maybe some other time.
Park at Aurora City Center. Bike to north end at Sand Creek, then turn around and go south to Cherry Creek Trail, then turn around and go back to City Center - 30 miles round trip. Flat and scenic.
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