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Northeast Denver Loop

This loop's a combination of Denver's Cherry Creek Trail, Highline Canal Trail, Sand Creek Greenway & Platte River Trail
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 42 miles
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly

Overview:  Enjoy Denver's northeast quadrant as you explore Cherry Creek Trail, Highline Canal Trail(East), Sand Creek Greenway, and the Platte... more »

Tips:  - If you are riding the entire loop, you will want a bike that has trail tires because much of the Sand Creek Greenway is gravel or... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Confluence Park

This is where Cherry Creek flows into the Platte River, but more importantly, this is the junction where Cherry Creek Trail meets the Platte River Trail.

2. 11th Ave. underpass

Even though you're going through the heart of a major city, all of the road crossings are below grade, so the trail is very safe, and if you hit it at the right times, on the right days, it is also quite peaceful and relaxing.

3. Denver Country Club

One of two country clubs you will pass while riding this trail, the DCC can always be counted on for beautiful flowers and a well-manicured golf course.

This is an upscale mall that offers great browsing and shopping and is an especially nice escape on a hot summer afternoon.

This hands-on historic park is popular for field-trips during the school year and day-camps during the summer.

6. park access

Trails diverge from both directions allowing trail-users access to Cook Memorial Park, City of Madras Park, and Garland Park. This is also a major creek-crossing area for those who need to access the other side of Cherry Creek.

7. Iliff Ave.

As you cross under E. Iliff Ave., you know you are nearing Cherry Creek Country Club and the turnoff for the Highline Canal Trail.

8. Cherry Creek Country Club

This is an important landmark, because it signals where you will turn onto the Highline Canal Trail. If you are riding/walking from Confluence Park up the Cherry Creek Trail, you will turn just after you pass the country club golf course. The Highline Canal Trail is well marked when you get to the intersection. Make sure you take the East trail... More

9. Highline Canal Trail west junction (Don't take this one!)

This is not the Highline Canal Trail exit you want to take. It will take you onto a completely different loop trail.

10. Highline Canal Trail East junction

This is the trail you want to take. At this point, you will begin to head back in a northwesterly direction and around the Cherry Creek Country Club golf course. You are now on the second trail of your four trail circular journey.

11. Iliff road crossing. Very busy

Remember that nice Iliff Ave. underpass you recently used on the Cherry Creek Trail? Well I've got some bad news for you. You're now going to cross Iliff again, but this time, you'll literally cross the street. Unfortunately, you'll cross numerous streets on the Highline Canal Trail. Don't be disheartened by this particular crossing though. It is ... More

12. S. Parker Rd. crossing

This is another busy crossing, but it has a signal light to help control traffic. Be careful anyway.

This is a very popular cemetery; people are just dying to get in.

14. Rest bench

Sit down, grab a bite to eat, and rehydrate. Benches are not real plentiful on this loop, so enjoy them when they're available.

15. canal crossing on bridge

Cross the bridge into Expo Park.

16. Expo Park

This wide-open park makes another nice stopping spot.

17. Westerly Creek Trail junction

Next time you're on this section of the loop, you can explore the Westerly Creek Trail.

18. Major road crossing and restaurant

If you're hungry for seafood, here's your stop. You'll find a Red Lobster just off the trail. What's the use of burning all those calories if you can't put them back on with some crab legs?

19. Trail mile 52

These mile markers are for the Highline Canal Trail only and include both the west and east section. For this loop, you are only on the east section.

20. Highway underpass

At this point in the trail, you will make a short jog to the north in order to use a road that goes under Highway 225. You will then go just a little ways back south once you are through the underpass. Watch carefully for signs. If you have gone too far off the trail, backtrack until you find it again. This part can be a little confusing.

21. Tollgate Creek Trail

This is another potentially confusing spot in the trail. Do NOT cross over or under Alameda Parkway. You may be tempted to follow Tollgate Creek Trail under the road, but save that for another trip.
Instead, stay on the sidewalk on the north side of E. Alameda Parkway and use that sidewalk to cross the bridge (not the street). Once you cross the... More

22. informational sign

The trail information sign at this point is quite helpful. You will be following a sidewalk along Airport Boulevard for a ways. Don't cross the street. Stay on the west side. It is safer, less confusing, and easier to navigate.

23. Join Sand Creek Regional Greenway at this point.

Once you have traveled over the Sand Creek Bridge, you will see a sign pointing you west toward the trail. This is the Sand Creek Greenway and trail #3 on your journey.
Be aware that, although there are some paved portions of this trail, it is mostly dirt and gravel (for now). If you are biking this path, you should probably be using trail tires... More

24. Morrison Nature Center

Despite being so close to a major metropolitan area, you will see many nature preserves along the trail.

25. Sand Creek Trailhead

You can park and access the trail from either Central Park to the south of the trail or Smith Road to the north.

26. What are those cement walls for?

At one time, this portion of the creek was directly under a major runway at Stapleton Airport, one of America's busiest.

27. creek crossing

Pay attention in this area. It's easy to get off track if you're not watching the trail closely. Make sure you cross this pedestrian bridge over the creek.

28. major trail junction

At this point, the Sand Creek Greenway meets the Platte River Trail. If you are going in a counter-clockwise direction, as this guide is set-up, you will cross a bridge over the Platte River then turn left (southwest) onto the Platte River Trail.

29. equestrian trail

You will find some sections of this loop ideally suited to horseback riding. The Sand Creek Greenway has especially good equestrian trails.

30. educational signs

The Sand Creek Greenway has numerous educational and informational signs that provide information about everything from wildlife and plants to the industrial plants and abandoned airport.

31. Denver B-cycle

Bicycles are available for rent through the Denver B-cycles program. Rental pick-up and returns are available in numerous locations. Check out their website at the link provided with this guide.

32. trail construction/detours

As I rode this trail, there was a fairly major detour at this point. Although that particular construction job may be completed by the time you ride this trail, it is a near certainty that there will be somewhere on the loop. Heed all warning signs and follow the instructions on the signs.