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Top 10 Trails in the Denver Region

March 13, 2018

Get outdoors and rejuvenate with these fantastic natural spaces!

The Denver region offers a bounty of beautiful trails. The possibilities along these trails are endless. You can bike, hike, and walk. You can watch beautiful wildlife or do some people-watching. Anything you decide, we encourage you to take advantage of these amazing outdoor experiences.
Many of these trails are projects the Flood Control District has spearheaded or contributed. So, we pepper in some opinions from our staff members on what makes the trails so great. Enjoy!

1. Boulder Creek

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia contributor, Kevin (User:G6489)
“My favorite is the Boulder Creek path in the area of Broadway Street in the City of Boulder. I like the trail in this area due to the usage that it gets, the activities in the area, and the people watching (Boulder is great for people watching). The trail system in Boulder is more of a transportation system than a recreational system. It is inspiring to see how many people are using this trail to commute throughout the city. I think more places should aim for a trail system that functions this way. This trail also routes people to the library, municipal buildings, and area parks. As a drainage nerd, I like the flooding education that is in the area. The Gilbert F. White Memorial Flood Marker is just downstream of Broadway. Many consider Mr. White to be the father of floodplain management. The silver bands on this marker indicate the depths for the 50-year, 100-year, 500-year floods, and what the Colorado Big Thompson flooding depth would have looked like in Boulder. These flood level markers provide some context of flooding to the general public.”
Jim Watt, Project Manager | Watershed Services

2. Deer Creek Canyon Park

Photo courtesy of Jefferson County government.
“My all-time favorite trail is Deer Creek Canyon Park, a JeffCo Open Space trail system. I like this trail because it is very accessible and has great views of the valley. The park offers a lot of trail options. Go for a short hike, or extend it into an all-day outing. You can easily create a loop hike when you incorporate the hiker-only trail off of the parking lot.”
— Teresa L. Patterson, Project Manager | Watershed Services
Deer Creek Canyon also offers mountain biking. More info here:

3. Cherry Creek Trail

Photo courtesy of
Cherry Creek trail starts at Confluence Park, where Cherry Creek and the S. Platte intersect. From there it stretches 42 miles down to Franktown. The trail is popular with commuters. It offers a sanctuary from the busy streets above to those biking or walking to work in Metro Denver. It is also a popular trail around the Cherry Creek reservoir. Other notable sites along the way south are the city of Parker, Bar CCC Park and the Pinery Country Club.
“I love the trail because the proximity to my house, shopping, Cherry Creek, social trails, parks, downtown, and my work.”
Jason Stawski, Senior Construction Manager | Operations and Development

4. High Line Canal

Originally meant for irrigation, this trail is now also used for recreation. Our Executive Director, Ken Mackenzie says, “Lose yourself on the 71-mile trail that parallels this 135 year-old canal—you’ll forget you’re in the city.” Much of the trail is shaded by Cottonwood Trees. It also follows the contours of the land, making it an interesting bike, jog or walk.

5. Lee Gulch Trail

Here is the Prunus Americana in its flowered form. It’s also known as native plums, which can be eaten in fruit form, and were widely consumed by American Indians and early settlers.
“Lee Gulch Trail is the historic home of an ancient Indian camp site at its confluence with the South Platte River to near Broadway where the High Line Canal crosses in a historic overhead flume. Stop and enjoy the plentiful native plums (Prunus americana) that grow along this urban treasure in the summertime.”
–Ken Mackenzie, Executive Director

6. Waterton Canyon Trail

Waterton Canyon provides great access to the Colorado Trail. It’s also a hotspot for seeing wildlife, including bighorn sheep. Parking is plentiful even on weekends as the trail is not heavily trafficked.
“I love the trail because the outdoor activities in the area and off the beaten path access to the South Platte River.”
— Jason Stawski, Senior Construction Manager | Operations and Development

7. South Platte River Trail

Photo courtesy of Spinlister.
The South Platte Trail stretches almost 30 miles and is outstanding for biking. It winds through Urban Denver, and then stretches into the plains. The Rocky Mountains serve as the backdrop for much of the trail once you leave the city.

8. Carson Nature Center in Littleton

Photo courtesy of the Outdoor Project and photographer Elle Ossello.
“My personal favorite are the social trails or fishermen trails that are adjacent to the South Platte River near the South Platte Park Carson Nature Center in Littleton. I like this area because the Carson Nature Center has a river table that allows kids to get their hands dirty and to see how rivers and flooding works — then you can take a walk down by the river and see the river in real life. My kids love the trails, love getting down by the river and throwing rocks, and the trail seems very secluded.”
Jim Watt, Project Manager | Watershed Services

9. Roxborough State Park

Roxborough State Park is very similar to Red Rocks but with one major difference. Roxborough has considerably less traffic and tourists. Getting into the state park can take about 20 minutes sometimes because they limit the amount of traffic allowed in at one time. But, overall it’s worth it. The rock structures are just as dramatic — if not more stunning — than Red Rocks. Hiking trails stretch as long as 9 miles and vary in intensity and duration.

10. Royal Arch

Boulder is well known for the beautiful hiking amongst the Flatirons at Chautauqua Park. Royal Arch takes you past the Flatirons, and deeper into Chautauqua. After ascending and descending alongside the mountain you emerge at Royal Arch — a stunning and giant rock formation nestled on the mount side forest.
Map of locations in this post

These 10 trails are just a taste of what the Denver region offers. What did we forget? Like what you saw?
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