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The Sand Creek Regional Greenway follows Sand Creek in Denver's northeast metro area. The southern end of the trail, through Denver and Aurora, has a soft surface, which can make for a dusty ride when it's dry; mountain bikes are best at handling the sandy trail, although the trail is rated as wheelchair accessible. The north end of the trail, in Commerce City, is paved.
Along the route you'll pass through industrial areas and go by a few neighborhoods, parks and small lakes, including Bluff Lake Nature Center, Morrison Nature Center, Urban Farm at Stapleton, Sand Creek Park and Star K Ranch Natural Area, where you can pick up the High Line Canal Trail.
At its northern terminus, the Sand Creek Regional Greenway intersects with the Platte River Trail, near where I-270 crosses the river.
You can access the Sand Creek Regional Greenway from the Platte River Trail at the former's northern end or from many other places. Parking is available at the places listed below.
Commerce City: the Platte River Trail trailhead on York Avenue, just south of I-270; at Sand Creek Drive and Dahlia, just east of 56th and Vasquez at the intersection of Vasquez and I-270; near the Wetlands Park at 52nd and Ivy.
Stapleton: near the Urban Farm at the end of Smith Road
Fitzsimons: Sand Creek Park off Fitzsimons Parkway
Aurora: Star K Ranch and Morrison Nature Center: Park at Star K Open Space Park, just off Smith Road and Laredo, and take the trail through Star K Ranch to the Sand Creek Regional Greenway
Commerce City and Denver have done a lot of work on this trail. I can put together a 25-30+ mile road bike ride on skinny tires. There's a few fine crushed gravel sections where I unclip, just in case, but overall it's in great shape. There's trailheads and port-a-potties frequently enough. They've even made the area near the refinery look good.
The Sand Creek Regional Greenway is such a great resource for this area. It connects the South Platte Canal trail in southern Commerce City to the High Line Canal trail in northeast Aurora. Two of my favorite places along the trail are the Bluff Lake Nature Center, located off of Havana Way in Stapleton, and the Morrison Nature Center/Star K Ranch, located in Aurora. I often see wildlife at both of these places, and I saw a coyote at Bluff Lake fairly recently.
The trail is paved in Commerce City, but is crusher-fine/soft surface in Denver and Aurora, so a mountain bike or hybrid bike is probably preferable to a road bike. There is construction going on in a couple of areas, so I always find it helpful to check out the Sand Creek Regional Greenway Partnership's website (www.sandcreekgreenway.org) or Facebook page to stay up to date on any detours that are in place.
I would highly encourage anyone who lives in this area to check out this awesome Greenway system! It's a great way to excape the hustle and bustle of the city, get out and enjoy nature, get a bit of exercise, and maybe even see some wildlife, all without having to leave your neighborhood!
The Sand Creek Regional Greenway is the premier bike trail in the northeast metro area, connecting the South Platte Greenway in Commerce City to the Highline Canal trail in Aurora. The trail is paved in the Commerce City section, but crusher fine/soft surface in the Denver and Aurora sections.
The trail starts off in an industrial area in Commerce City. Metro Wastewater, the UPS plant, and Xcel Energy are all nearby. The trail here is paved and in great condition. The main trailhead is near the intersection of Sand Creek Drive and E. 56th Avenue, and has plenty of parking and some picnic tables nearby. There is another parking lot near the intersection of Ivy Street and E. 52nd Avenue, which is very close to the Wetlands Park (there are picnic tables and bathrooms here as well). The Commerce City section of the trail is easy riding, and follows I-270 until it winds into Denver.
Moving into the Denver area, the trail surface changes from paved to crusher fine. Because of this, I would strongly recommend using a mountain bike (instead of a road bike). There is a lot of construction going on in this section of the trail, with the replacement of the I-70 bridge and installation of the Central Park Boulevard bridge. The trail stays open through these periods of construction, although there are occasionally detours. You can check out construction and detour information online by going here: http://www.sandcreekgreenway.org/3map/3.3directions/construction.htm. Use caution in these areas.
There are some nice areas along the Denver section, which is far less industrial than the Commerce City section and takes you through nice cottonwood groves and a few scenic areas. Bluff Lake Nature Center and the Stapleton Urban Farm are directly off of the trail, and are definitely worth checking out. The main trailhead for the Denver portion is near the intersection of Smith Road and Havana Street, and has a huge parking lot. The trail cuts through the runway tunnels of the old Stapleton Airport, which is really nifty.
You will enter the Aurora section of the trail after crossing Peoria Street. The trail surface in this area is a mix between soft surface and crusher fine. In my opinion, the most beautiful areas of the Greenway are in Aurora- do yourself a favor and check out Star K Ranch and the Morrison Nature Center for native wildlife and scenic views. Sand Creek Park is also another beautiful area worth exploring.
The trail ends at Colfax Avenue, where you can easily hop on the Highline Canal trail. Although some areas of the trail are in need of improvement, overall I really enjoy the Sand Creek Regional Greenway. The way the trail connects industrial, residential and scenic areas is very cool, and I love having a place to go to get away from the city that is so close to my house. You can also do a 50 mile loop in the metro area by taking the South Platte Greenway to the Sand Creek Greenway to the Highline Canal to the Cherry Creek Greenway. Happy trails!
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