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Denver, Colorado, United States

Sand Creek Regional Greenway

Ride the 14 mile long Sand Creek Regional Greenway trail.

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 13.5 miles / 22 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
 
Overview: The Sand Creek Regional Greenway is a jewel in the necklace of trails that has made the metro Denver area a national model for linked trail systems. This 14-mile public greenway connects the High Line Canal in Aurora with the South Platte River Greenway in Commerce City. Along the way, it passes through Denver and the new Stapleton community.

The Sand Creek Regional Greenway is open every day from dawn until dusk. Runners, walkers, cyclists, nature viewers, horseback riders, and leashed dogs are encouraged to enjoy the trail. Motorized vehicles are prohibited.

The Greenway runs through industrial, residential, and scenic areas in the Denver metro area. Bluff Lake Nature Center and Morrison Nature Center are both located on the Greenway, as well as the Urban Farm at Stapleton, Sand Creek Park, and Star K Ranch Natural Area.

For an everytrail.com guide to the 42 mile NE Denver Loop (the Sand Creek Greenway, South Platte Greenway, Cherry Creek Greenway, Highline Canal loop), please visit http://www.everytrail.com/guide/northeast-denver-loop.

The following is a play by play of the trail, starting in Commerce City and ending in Aurora.

Commerce City

PARK your car (if you need to) at 60th and York along the South Platte Greenway.

RIDE north on the South Platte Greenway until you see the bike/pedestrian bridge over the South Platte River at the Sand Creek confluence (just before the South Platte Greenway goes under I-270).

TURN east on the Sand Creek Regional Greenway onto the bridge over the South Platte River.

FOLLOW THE TRAIL as it goes along the south side of I-270, and then turns right at the Burlington ditch. Keep following the trail as it goes left over the Burlington Ditch – then you have smooth sailing.

CONTINUING to the east, stop and enjoy the cool 5-acre Pepper Riparian Area just west of the Colorado Blvd bridge. Look for the beaver den.

The TRAILHEAD at Dahlia and 56th is open and also a great place to park your car.

In the early morning and late afternoon, egrets, herons, ducks, foxes, muskrats, and many other natural friends can be seen at the COMMERCE CITY WETLAND PARK.

After you CROSS THE BRIDGE to the south side of the creek at the Wetland Park, look for the restroom building to your right. If you follow the unpaved trail around the wetland areas, you will come to a parking lot at the end of 52nd Avenue. If you go to your left after the bridge, you will find the paved off-road trail- it is beautiful! Enjoy this last mile of paved trail all the way to 47th Avenue Drive at the Denver city line.

Denver

During the summer of 2013, there will be construction at 47th Avenue and on the trail to the I-70 underpass at Sand Creek. We are building an underpass at 47th and paving the trail to the I-70 bridge. Please follow the instructions of the construction crews.

After the I-70 bridge over Sand Creek, the trail continues to the east on the north side of Sand Creek. The trail is not paved. The trail goes under Central Park Blvd and is closed at this location due to the construction of the new East Corridor FasTracks line under Central Park Blvd. Follow the detour signs to the northeast and take the sidewalk along Central Park Blvd back toward Sand Creek (turn left on the sidewalk). The Central Park Bridge has a wide and well protected sidewalk.

Continue to follow the detour signs. You will ride on Central Park Blvd to the south side of the creek; turn left off CPB and follow the sidewalks to the corner of Smith Road and Xanthia. Go south on Xanthia until you see the trail on the north of RK Mechanical, going east. Follow the detour signs to the E 37th Avenue sidewalk. At Boston Street, make a left (north) on the trail going toward Sand Creek and cross over the pedestrian bridge to the trail, which runs on the north side of Sand Creek to the east. The Smith Road TRAILHEAD is next to the trail on the north. Please respect the detour and for your own safety, stay out of the construction zone.

The TRAILHEAD on east Smith Road is difficult to access at the moment because of the light rail construction in the area (to reach it by car, turn onto Smith Road from Havana).

From the Smith Road Trailhead, FOLLOW THE TRAIL east, past the Urban Farm on the north, down to the creek, and up the hill to Havana. Go on the sidewalk along Havana over the Sand Creek bridge and look for the SCRG signs on your right. Follow the trail to the right, as it curves down under the bridge and up on the east side of Havana. Follow the trail that goes along the road (with Bluff Lake Nature Center on your left) all the way to Peoria.

BE CAREFUL - New neighborhoods are being built along Havana and Martin Luther King Blvd. There are construction activities in the Denver section. Please do not go around barriers on the trail.

Aurora

SMOOTH RIDING - The trail is open and beautiful from the underpass at Peoria into Sand Creek Park all the way to Colfax Avenue near Airport Boulevard. Stay on the trail through the northern section of Sand Creek Park. Go under I-225 and continue past Sable and Chambers. Enjoy the beautiful section from Chambers to Star K Ranch.

AFTER Chambers Road, you will enter the 200-acre STAR K RANCH with the trailhead and beautiful Morrison Nature Center to the left. Look for the trails heading north (left) off the greenway trail and follow them to the parking lot and nature center (about ½ mile).

OR continue through Star K Ranch to Airport Blvd and go south (right) on the sidewalk/road of Airport Blvd. to where the High Line Canal Trail crosses Airport Blvd. (about 1 mile).

OR continue on the Sand Creek trail until it ends near Colfax Avenue.

Happy trails!


Tips: There are 3 main things you need to take into account before setting out on the Greenway.

1: TRAIL SURFACE

The Commerce City section of the trail is paved and is acceptable for commuter bikes. However, both the Denver and Aurora sections of the trail are crusher fine/soft surface. We highly recommend using a mountain bike on this section of the trial.

2: CONSTRUCTION

There are currently several areas of construction on the Denver section of the trail. To keep our trail users safe, we occasionally implement detours and trail closures.

For up to date information concerning construction, trail detours and closures, visit: http://sandcreekgreenway.org/our-greenway/construction-detours/

3: AMENITIES

There are currently limited amenities available along the Sand Creek Regional Greenway trail. There are three bathrooms on the trail: at the Commerce City Wetland Park (always open), at Bluff Lake Nature Center (open every day sunrise to sunset) and at Morrison Nature Center (call 303-739-2428 for current hours of operation).

Our main parking areas are at the Dahlia Trailhead and Wetlands Park in Commerce City; the Smith Road Trailhead in Denver; and at Sand Creek Park and the Morrison Nature Center in Aurora. Drinking water is very scarce on the Greenway, so make sure to pack lots of it for your trip!

If you have questions about our trail, please visit www.sandcreekgreenway.org or call (303) 468-3260.

Points of Interest

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Confluence with South Platte Greenway trail

The Sand Creek Regional Greenway dead ends into the South Platte Greenway at the confluence of Sand Creek and the South Platte river. Take the trail south toward downtown Denver, or north to connect with the Clear Creek trail (which can take you all the way to Golden!)
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Dahlia Trailhead

The Dahlia Trailhead serves as the main entrance point to the Sand Creek Regional Greenway in Commerce City. Amenities include a paved parking lot and nearby picnic shelters.
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Commerce City Wetlands Park

A great place to picnic or exercise! A loop extends around a restored wetland area next to Sand Creek. Amenities include a parking lot off of Ivy Street, picnic shelters, and a public restroom.
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Major Construction Zone

This area will be a major construction zone until 2016. The Central Park Boulevard bridge, RTD East Corridor FasTracks bridge, and Union Pacific Railroad bridge will all be built over Sand Creek (and over the SCRG trail). Please use extreme caution in this area. For up to date information about detours and trail clsures, please visit http://sandcreekgreenway.org/our-greenway/construction-detours/
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Old Runway Tunnels

As you are meandering along the trail, you will suddenly come to a paved section with large concrete walls on either side. These are the old runway tunnels of the Stapleton Airport, which was demolished in the 1990s. The tops of the runway tunnels were removed several years ago, but the large concrete walls still remain.
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Smith Road Trailhead

The Smith Road Trailhead serves as the main entrance point to the Sand Creek Regional Greenway in Denver. Spacious parking.
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The Urban Farm at Stapleton

www.theurbanfarm.org

The Urban Farm (TUF) is a 23-acre community farm and environmental education facility located near Stapleton's Sand Creek Regional Greenway. It offers a wide array of programs in horsemanship, animal husbandry, gardening, conservation, stream reclamation, and land cultivation. The facility is open to the public Saturday mornings from 10am to 1pm and at additional times as arranged.

The indoor teaching barn hosts numerous classes, and kids love the Children's Garden with a greenhouse, as well as the horse paddocks and small livestock enclosures.

TUF's signature program, Embracing Horses, is a very popular program in which children (ages five-18) learn to care for and ride horses. A skills-based program, children progress through a variety of levels of riding and horsemanship. The program includes opportunities for kids to ride once a week, as well as opportunities for youngsters who are interested in becoming accomplished equestriennes and in competing at local, regional, or even national levels.
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Bluff Lake Nature Center

www.blufflakenaturecenter.org

Bluff Lake Nature Center occupies 123 acres adjacent to Sand Creek on the eastern edge of the Stapleton development. It offers a variety of native habitats including a seasonal lake, wetlands, short-grass prairie, a riparian zone and wetland woodland. Thanks to its 60 year history as an airport buffer, Bluff Lake has become an urban wildlife refuge for waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, songbirds, deer, fox, beaver, reptiles, amphibians and other types of wildlife that visit or live at the site.

Bluff Lake Nature Center is open sunrise to sunset every day. Parking lot and public restroom available. Trails are for walking and jogging. Please, no horses, bikes or motorized vehicles. Dogs and other pets are prohibited.
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Sand Creek Park

Sand Creek Park offers several paved trails that link to the Sand Creek Regional Greenway. No public bathrooms.
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Morrison Nature Center and Star K Ranch

Morrison Nature Center is your gateway to discovering Aurora's true nature. Consult our library of field guides, reference books, and natural history favorites; enjoy the birding at our songbird feeding stations, or peruse our seasonally changing exhibits on local plants and animal life. Costumes, blocks, puppets, kids' books, and live animal exhibits make Morrison Nature Center for kids, too.

Amenities include pet pick-up courtesy bag stations, trailside benches, water station (pump with spigot), horse corral, shelter with picnic tables, and hassle-free parking. Morrison Nature Center offers restrooms, water, exhibits, a classroom, and a library.

Hours change seasonally: call 303-739-2428 for more information.
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Star K Ranch

The Star K Ranch is a 200-acre preserve that encompasses a variety of habitats including short-grass prairie, wetlands, ponds, Sand Creek, and riparian areas, making it a wonderful area for exploration. Star K Ranch "regulars" include mule deer, painted turtles, snapping turtles, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, western meadowlarks, great horned owls, and blue jays.
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High Line Canal trail

The Highline Canal spans 66 miles through the Denver metro area. The trail ends near Colfax Avenue in Aurora, where it will soon connect with the Sand Creek Regional Greenway. For more information or to download a trail map, please visit http://www.denverwater.org/recreation/highlinecanal/.
Pictures in this guide taken by: sandcreekgreenway

Sand Creek Regional Greenway Trail Map


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sandcreekgreenway
sandcreekgreenway
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The Sand Creek Regional Greenway is a 14-mile long urban trail system that extends through Commerce City,...

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