I have a new favorite route in Denver that circles up around Thornton and Westminster before returning to Park Hill. Trails include the Sand Creek, Platte River, Grange Hall, Farmers Highline Canal, US-36 Bikeway and Clear Creek. It runs just under 50 miles with 1200 or so feet of vertical, and looks like this:
The bottom of the map would reveal exactly where I live - just suffice to say it wraps back through Stapleton (soon to be renamed) and into Park Hill.
I'm trying out a better zoom camera - haven't had a lot of time with it yet but it let me get closer to this snowy egret than I usually can. I would have had a great shot of a turtle on a log, but he got spooked just before I got my camera set.
I have a new best friend on this route. About 15 miles in there is a sort of farm next to the Platte River. There is one horse and one small cow. They don't seem completely un-cared for, but they are stuck in a muddy lot with no grass and not much to do.
So I've been bringing apples and giving them each a treat. After a few stops like this, the horse walks over to the fence as soon as she sees me.
I don't know if the owner knows or cares - I figure one apple every few days can't hurt.
At the beginning of where I hit the Grange Hall trail, there is a field of some sort of crop behind a neighborhood of newer homes. I'm a city kid and am always surprised at farmland in metro areas. I guess there are still a few spots here.
Thornton's trails are really nice - the Grange Hall Trail isn't the widest, but it's green, sometimes shady, and flows between neighborhoods alongside streams, or in ribbons of parkland that cut between homes. Never see that many bikes -- you're more likely to see families with dogs and strollers.
My least favorite part of this trail is just before it connects to the Farmer's High-Line Canal Trail. There is a straight shot north along I-25. There is a concrete wall between the trail and the highway, but the homes along it aren't very nice (hello - they're next to a freeway) and I find that stretch depressing.
The next stretch runs more through Westminster - homes are newer and larger and some have mountain views. More golf courses as well. Apparently there is a mushroom farm here:
This vista is from one of the golf courses. Looks like rain tonight.
The rest of the route is the US-36 bikeway that runs up to Boulder, and the Clear Creek Trail. I'll post more pictures of that area next time.