How to Hike the Sand Creek Greenway

From the sprawling soccer fields in Aurora to the confluence of the Platte River and the Sand Creek, you’ll pass by two nature centers, an old runway, historic Danish pig farms, metro Denver’s storm water runoff treatment plant, and even an oil refinery. You’ll always be within sight of hawks, deer, beaver, prairie dogs, dragonflies, and red-winged blackbirds, among other wildlife.

It’s always a good time to hike the Sand Creek Greenway. The entire trail is over six feet wide, you can keep your social distance, and there’s plenty of length to spread everyone out across 14 miles. In addition, it’s a great trail for new hikers learning to hike and newcomers adjusting to Denver’s altitude.

Hike the Sand Creek Greenway

But how do you hike all 14 miles of this mostly flat trail if you’re not quite ready to do 14 miles in one shot? We’ve split the trail into 4 segments, which you can follow, or pick the trailheads and trailends that make sense to you.

You can walk the trail in either direction. The northern end near the Platte River in Commerce City can be a bit, uh, fragrant, so be sure to time your hike there when the wind is blowing from the north. Even though the treatment plants at this end might smell, the views are worth the visit.

The Sand Creek Greenway in 4 Segments

Whereas you can certainly create your own adventure, if you want to hike the Sand Creek in 4 easily divided segments we give you that information right here. Click to see maps and trailhead info.

When Should You Hike the Sand Creek Greenway?

You can walk the Greenway year round. The Greenway runs through 4 jurisdictions and all are excellent at clearing and maintaining the trail in all weather. Because of the different jurisdictions, you will find different levels of resources throughout, which the Sand Creek Greenway Partnership is trying to rectify.

You can walk the Sand Creek Greenway in either direction. It starts in the southweast near the Aurora Soccer Fields and travels northwesterly through Aurora, Denver, and Commerce City on the way to the confluence of the Platte River and the Sand Creek. Although the northern end can be a bit stinky due to industry, if you plan your hike on a good day with wind blowing from the north, you’ll have a spectacular hike filled with wildlife spotting, wildflower sniffing, and wilderness enjoying!

I wear these shoes and I get them from REI, where you can return shoes for up to a year.

What You Need to Hike the Sand Creek Greenway

You’ll need a few things to have a comfortable hike on the Sand Creek Greenway.

  • Map: You can download a map from the Sand Creek Greenway Partnership.
  • Shoes: To walk the Sand Creek Greenway, you just need a good pair of walking shoes or sandals. Boots aren’t necessary, unless the weather requires them. Sandals such as Keen would be fine, although I do encourage a closed-toe sandal like these closed-toe Chacos to bar against pebbles and goat heads. In the winter, you’ll want to wear a closed-toe hiker, and you might want to wear ice cleats, but this is a rare requirement. In the winter, the Sand Creek Greeway is also a great place to snow shoe or cross country ski if enough snow has fallen.

I get my shoes at REI because of their fabulous return policy.

  • Water: For water, carry at least two liters. Water is hard to find along the trail. I prefer a bladder, but bottles are absolutely efficient.
  • Hat: On your head, make sure you’ve got a good hat for either sun or warmth. My favorite hat, the Wallaroo, is made right here in Boulder, and I get to support a local Colorado company.
  • Pack: In your pack, add snacks. You might optionally want to throw in a pair of gloves, sunscreen, the ten essentials, and maybe even a pair of binoculars. Watch this video of what’s in my urban hiking pack.

Links to the Trailheads and Segments

To see the details for each segment, including trailhead, trailend, parking info and highlights, take a look at the info at Sand Creek Trailheads and Segments. You’ll be able to find everything you need.

The Sand Creek Greenway is wilderness in the city that many cities wished they had. If you haven’t walked it, or if you’ve only walked the portion in your back yard, make a plan to hike all of it or at least more of it. Will you get on it today?

As you’re walking the trail, be sure to post your pictures so I can see them. Use the hashtag #denverbyfoot and #wildernessinthecity. I’d love to see your story of how you enjoyed the Sand Creek Greenway.

Complete All 14 Miles

Hiking all 14 miles of the Sand Creek Greenway is super rewarding. You’ll pass through urban, suburban, and rural areas, getting to know metro Denver on a pedestrian level. Be sure to submit your 14 mile entry to the Sand Creek Greenway Partnership and get your coveted Sunflower 14 patch. I love mine!

sunflower patch

Hiking the Sand Creek Greenway and Supporting Denver By Foot

If you’ve enjoyed this info about the Sand Creek Greenway and how to hike it, 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, or even during our lock down.

Also, if you like the Sand Creek Greenway, you’ll like the 42-mile 9 Creeks Loop.

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!

What did you like about this walk? Post it on Facebook and tag your posts with #denverbyfoot so I can find them.

See you on the trail!