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Best Urban Nature Walk Denver 2007 - High Line Canal Trail

Snaking off the South Platte River near Waterton Canyon to the southwest and winding all the way northeast to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Green Valley Ranch, the serpentine High Line Canal Trail bends through Arapahoe, Douglas and Denver counties. Approximately sixty miles long, the trail is a mellow meander through pristine areas of undeveloped nothing, as well as upscale sections of Greenwood Village and Cherry Hills. So in addition to bunnies and birds, flora and fauna, you can sometimes steal a glimpse of suburban backyard life amid the micro-mansions. With plenty of ponds and waterways along the way, this route draws joggers, power-walkers and dog-lovers on any decent day. An easy escape into the urban wild, the High Line Canal Trail makes for a pleasant walk on the mild side.
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I had one of the most memorable short hikes of my life, up Waterton Canyon one cool day in May, some years ago. Five of us took a pleasant walk up to the dam from the parking lot, past the Blue Ribbon catch-and-release trout stream. Saw a guy tie into a jumper about half-way up. The trout was backlit by the sunlight on the eastern canyon wall. The fisherman's broad grin gleamed almost as brightly.

We had a picnic and started to walk back, about mid-afternoon. By then the sun had disappeared behind the western walls of Waterton Canyon.

And the snakes came out.

Baby rattlers. Dozens of them. They blended perfectly into the dust of the road at the bottom of the shaded canyon. A minefield of sluggish vipers that stretched for more than a mile. They remained almost invisible until the toe of your sneaker was ready to come down on them.

Important safety note: if you hike this trail, wear good boots!