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Leaving Denver and Arriving in Aurora on Trail on the 9 Creeks Loop, Segment 3

The 9 Creeks Loop is a 42-mile hike that physically circles the city of Denver on trail. It uses a combination of 4 regional trails to lap the city. I have broken the 42 miles into 8 easy ~5 mile segment that are flat, have easy to find trailheads and trailends, and all can be walked in any direction. Transit is mostly available to the trailheads, although you may need to be a bit creative. When I walk the loop, I often will take a Lyft. You can certainly walk the segments as out-n-backs as well.

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Approaching Aurora on the 9 Creeks Loop Mile 5-10

Trailheads: Bluff Lake Nature Center (3400 Havana Way, Denver, CO 80238)

Trailend: Hinkley High School (1250 Chambers Rd, Aurora, CO 80011)

Highlights: Rural Aurora, Star K Ranch, Norfolk Glen

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This segment introduces you to Aurora. After leaving the city of Denver, you’ll wander through the outskirts of Aurora and venture into one of its original party places, the Star K Ranch. You’ll jump off the Sand Creek Greenway and join the High Line Canal Trail, making your way through rural areas of Aurora, seeing goats, sheep, chicken and maybe even a remote-control car track. The High Line Canal will stay with you, running parallel to the trail, until you get back to the city of Denver.

To see footage of this mile, watch this video.

Begin Your Aurora Portion by Leaving Bluff Lake Nature Center

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After taking a break at the Nature Bluff Center, continue along the 9 Creeks Loop. About 100 yards east of the Nature Center, the trail leaves the road and ducks into the Nature Center property. Shortly, you’ll cross into Aurora on the Sand Creek Trail. The City of Aurora has created a nice underpass crossing where you’ll go under the new light rail tracks into Aurora and then under Peoria. Just to the east of Peoria is a foot bridge that crosses over Sand Creek again.

To see footage of this mile, watch this video.

Welcome to Aurora

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The first part of the trail in Aurora continues on pebble trail and runs parallel to Sand Creek. Residences frame both sides of the Trail, and the Sand Creek Greenway has done a nice job with signage. The Trail is flat and easy to follow. Shorly, the Trail becomes concrete at about 30th Avenue in Aurora. The Creek parallels down the bank to the south.

To see footage of this mile, watch this video.

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Cross over Sable and continue along the  back side of a concrete plant. The trail dips down into some woods and along Sand Creek. Look for evidence of beavers! Several trees have been gnawed and felled. Shortly, you’ll reach the entrance of Star K Ranch.

Aurora’s Original Party Town?

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Star K Ranch, settled by Virgil “Pop” Stark a half century ago, became the destination for parties for Pop’s retirement. Over 3000 guests would hover for 3-day parties, enjoying the great outdoors of the Ranch, its wildlife and its wonderful view. On Star K Ranch is the Morrison Nature Center which includes parts of Pop’s home and nature exhibits.

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To watch footage of this mile, watch this video.

The Magic of Denver’s Longest Urban Treasure

Continue east down the Trail and in about 1/2 mile you’ll see a sign that says, “High Line Canal 1/2 Mile.” Take the right and venture down through the woods, across the Sand Creek and up to the High Line Canal. Take a right. You’ll now be on the High Line Canal Trail, which runs all the way from Denver International Airport to the north down to Waterton Canyon to the south. For the 9 Creeks Loop, you’ll stay on the High Line for about 10 miles.

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To watch footage of this mile, watch this video.

The High Line Canal Trail offers up a nice 8 foot wide cement path. Notice the High Line Canal mile markers, which will entertain you until you get to Cherry Creek. Cross over Colfax at the crosswalk and continue into Aurora.

Where is Fletcher?

The City of Aurora, one of the fastest growing cities in Colorado, was once named Fletcher after the original founder, Donald Fletcher. He garnered the water rights for the town and began building a subdivision full of what was known as “Fletcher homes.” You can still find a few Fletcher homes north of Colfax between Havana and Peoria. But when the silver bust broke Denver and its environs, Fletcher fled with his water rights. The remaining citizens renamed the town, Aurora. Fortunately for them, the High Line Canal was being built, and it brought water out to the farms and agricultural all the way east of Denver here in Aurora.

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Goats, Sheep and Remote Control Cars

Thus, when walking in Aurora, you’ll often stumble upon unexpected farms and ranches squeezed in between new residences. In this mile along the High Line Canal, you’ll find goat, sheep and chicken farms. Also in this same area, you might see a remote-control track called, “Bang Town” in someone’s backyard across from the sheep farm.

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Moving along and past the farms, the trail continues behind Hinkley High School. Hinkley has one of the few public school pools and a wonderful football/track field. On the other side of the Canal, the fields continue, including soccer and baseball fields. Here is the end of segment 3.

You’ll End this Segment at Hinkley High School

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You’ll end this segment at Hinkely High School. It has one of the few public school pools and a wonderful football/track field. On the other side of the Canal, the fields continue, including soccer and baseball fields. All along the Loop, I saw folks playing soccer, paying homage to the wide variety of international influences on Aurora. If you’re in town during the Aurora Global Fest, be sure to attend and witness the parade of nations, taste dozens of different foods, and mingle with Aurora’s global citizens.

At Hinkley High School, segment 3 of the 9 Creeks Loop ends. What did you like most about this segment 3 of the 9 Creeks Loop? Ready to tackle segment 4?

Walking the 9 Creeks Loop and Denver By Foot

You can find more information about the 9 Creeks Loop here. I have also written about it extensively in my book, The Best Urban Hikes: Denver.

If you’ve enjoyed this walk, maybe you’ll enjoy some other walks curated by Denver By Foot. Get the 52 Hikes 52 Weeks Denver Calendar, which recommends a hike a week, subscribe to the YouTube Channel to hear about weekly hiking suggestions in Denver, and buy access to the Denver By Foot Challenge. The Challenge is 30 activities in Denver to do by foot where you’ll uncover treasures throughout Denver. It’s a great thing to do with friends and family.

Finally, please support Denver By Foot by purchasing Chris Englert’s books, The Best Urban Hikes: Denver and Discovering Denver Parks. Thank you so much!

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