Saturday, July 21, 2007

Denver's hidden 74 mile long trail

Begun in 1879 by the Northern Colorado Irrigation Company, The Highline Canal is 74 miles long, an average of thirty feet wide, originally cost $650,000 and took four long years to complete. It was designed to carry nearly three-quarters of a billion gallons of water per day, but averages only one-tenth of that now with 71 million gallons. British investors supplied the capital for the project which proposed to place a million acres of land under cultivation. However, they had difficulty securing sufficient water for the canal because earlier ditches held irrigation rights based on prior claims (thanks to Colorado's crazy water law). The seventy-four mile length of the canal drops at a super sweet uniform rate of thirty-two inches per mile making it utterly and completely flat.

While the Highline is a multiuse trail, with people using it for horseback riding, biking, walking, jogging and so on, I personally use it for canine energy release. I take the quick drive out to Titan road via US285 south of Denver and access trailheads from there. The stretch of the Highline as it exits Waterton Canyon until it reaches Highlands Ranch is fairly Nirvana inducing with its quiet and sublime lengths. If you follow it long enough, you eventually cross paths with a family owned and operated horse boarding facility that just happens to provide a prodigious amount of shade, tree ladders and rope swings - some of which are designed to propel the swinger into the Highline for a good swim. Further west you stroll past eclectic neighborhoods of geodesic and coonial homes and soon thereafter the trail enters cattle ranchland. Depending on the time of year you take to the trail, you just might find yourself "sharing the road" with the big, beautiful and bovine.

Water typically runs in the canal during the spring months of April and May and ceases in the summer swelter when you'd figure you would want it most. Bring a camera as views of the Front Range from the trail are picture worthy. Take a look below for a couple of good pics taken earlier this month.
So lets say you are crazy about biking. And, just for the sheer joy you decide to ride the Colorado Trail. If you were so inclined, this means you could start your ride from all the way back at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal effectively adding some 70 extra miles to the ride as you meandered in and around Aurora, Denver, Littleton, Glenwood and so on. Anyone game? ;)

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