We finished walking the High Line Canal– all 71 miles of this twisty, turny, serpentine shaped, treasure that runs from Waterton Canyon to Denver International Airport. (To read about our northern portion of this trip, see the Halfway Mark blog post.) On the southern half of our adventure, from mile marker 35 to 0, we passed historic barns, longhorn cattle, amazing foothill views, and we even visited a new botanic cemetery.
From 31 to 11, (2 Did It Twice!)
We started out with 31 folks at mile marker 71. By mile marker 35, we were down to 20. Of those, 11 actually walked all the segments of the Winter 2016 High Line Walk. Yet, 104 walkers joined us at least once. On our last segment up Waterton Canyon, we topped out at 30 again.We moved from strangers to walkers to community builders to High Line lovers.
The Southern Half Is Different
Walking the southern half of the High Line differs greatly from the northern. Moving through Cherry Hills, Littleton, Highlands Ranch and Waterton brings vast views, giant homes, and gorgeous pastures. The foothills come into view, and horses appear frequently. We leave urbania behind, cross suburbia, and finish rurally. Cameras can’t capture the grandiose beauty.
The Final History
Along the way, there a few crossing challenges, but the complicated ones like those at Alameda and Colorado give way to pedestrian friendly access in Greenwood Village. The only really bug-a-boo in the southern half of the High Line falls between mile markers 10-8. The Canal ducks under Plum Creek, and there is no trail to follow. Thus, we can’t walk miles 8, 9, 10–which is some of the prettiest walking a trail could ever wish for.
Walking the High Line Changes You
Nonetheless, neighbors along the way greet walkers, horse riders allow scratches behind horse ears, and even the botanic cemetery invites tired walkers to huddle up to a fire pit and enjoy a break.
The mile markers at the end of the trail deceive even the rangers. Although there is an “official” trail head at the High Line Canal parking lot on Waterton, that’s really only mile marker two. The last two miles are up Waterton Canyon. Thus, walkers must walk past the trailhead, along Waterton Road, past the overflow structure and the Waterton Canyon Parking Lot, and head west up the canyon.
The last two miles open up the excitement of any High Liner. We start to see real evidence of the Canal’s engineering. It parallels the trail above the Platte to the south in a concrete flume. The Canal then ducks under the Martson pipes and sneaks into the tunnel in the mountain. A mile later, it opens to the Platte River, just above the diversion dam.
Eyeing the beautiful diversion dam made of wood and stone, we got to see how it backs up the river and forces water into the Canal. We hope, soon, Denver Water will actually let the water flow into the Canal for the spring release. We also hope, soon, the Conservancy will plant a real mile marker 0 at the head gate!
Walking the entire High Line Canal changes you. Yup, it’s 71 miles, and the walking is actually fairly easy. Flat. Five-mile segments. But making the commitment to do the entire thing is a challenge.
The reward is that you make friends along the way, and you get to know Denver from a pedestrian view.
There’s nothing like it. You’ll look at a map and be amazed you walked the distance. And anytime in the future, when you meet someone new and you ask where they live, you’ll relate it to where they live on the Canal. Not where they live in Denver.
Join us. We’d love to have you. Sign up for the summer walk summer walk now!
See you on the trail