SUMMERFUN: Wheels of fortune on the High Line Canal Trail

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    Don’t read about Colorado history this summer, ride through it.

    One of the region’s best-kept secrets is free and open for your summertime enjoyment just about any time you’re ready for it. The region’s historic High Line Canal Trail winds an amazing 50 miles from Aurora across Denver, into Littleton, ending at Chatfield State Park and Reservoir at the foot of Waterton Cayon. If 50 miles isn’t enough for you, you can climb that canyon for miles, too. The entire 66 miles where the trail starts at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to the top of the Waterton Canyon Dam is not a ride for first-timers.

    From Spring Hill Golf Course in Aurora, the paved trail follows the oddly curvy and circuitous route that pioneers completed in 1883 as one of the sole sources of agricultural irrigation water when everything outside of what is now the Auraria Campus was wide open prairie.

    It’s mostly an easy and relatively flat ride, much of it along wide, paved trails. There are plenty of places to find park or public restrooms, and a host of places for food and beers, or long, leisurely picnic lunches and dinners.

    Parts of the trail intersect with numerous other trails and even bike roads along and near the South Platte River. Check out maps on walkridecolorado.com or denverwater.org. Smart phone cycling apps like CycleMeter also make great mobile guides.

    It’s easy to ride as far as your pals, family or legs will stand, but turning this into a century ride would take all of a day because of the lazy pace and street crossings. Take an RTD bus or commute to Chatfield and ride back.

    If you’re looking most for suds and snacks as your reward for pedaling the mile high, veer onto Cherry Creek and into Cherry Creek North or further in Downtown Denver for an endless variety of places to be glad you live here.

    For sheer coolness, don’t miss the part of the lusciously green trail near Belleview Avenue in Littleton and Blackmer Lake.

    Other SUMMER FUN installments here:

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