High Line Canal

Bench along the High Line
Benches provide a rest stop for cyclists and walkers.

Owned and operated by Denver Water
Recreational use agreements with seven agencies
Reservations: Day use area — no reservations required
Length: 71 miles
Capacity: The maximum capacity is 600 cubic feet per second. On average, the canal is about 2 feet deep.
Contact: Multiple agencies

Also check out blog post: Time to weigh in on Denver’s famous ditch


The High Line Canal, designated as a National Landmark Trail, was completed in 1883 to deliver irrigation water. Today, the canal is owned and operated by Denver Water. The canal trail has become a major recreational amenity in the Denver area, as people enjoy using the canal’s trail for hiking, biking, jogging and horseback riding.


From a diversion dam on the South Platte River 1.8 miles upstream from the mouth of Waterton Canyon, the canal runs 71 miles (114 km) east-northeast through Douglas, Arapahoe, and Denver counties, ending at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Lateral in the Green Valley Ranch area in northeast Denver. The canal is accessible along most of its length. To reach its starting point, take Colorado 470 to Wadsworth (Colorado 121) and follow Colorado 121 south to the Kassler Center.

For more information on access along the canal, check out our PDF document High Line Canal map.

Seasonal Information

Open year round, 5 a.m. – 11 p.m., subject to modification by recreation agencies.

Special Events

Permits must be obtained from both Denver Water and the recreation management agency for the area of the event.

Recreation Opportunities

Overview of available activities

Nature Viewing
nature viewing
Wildlife viewing, including birds, mammals and several species of reptiles.
Road bikes are best suited on the hard surfaces of the canal trail in Denver and Aurora. The routes through South Suburban, Highlands Ranch, Chatfield, Cherry Hill and Greenwood Village are all soft-surface trails, more suitable for mountain bikes.
The trail is used by a variety of people, from walkers with strollers to joggers and runners. Please be considerate of others.
Horseback Riding
horseback riding
Horses are welcome on most of the canal, but be aware of the regulations along different parts of the canal.
The canal winds through many parks that provide picnic tables. There are a few tables available along the canal trail. Benches also are provided along most of the canal. See local area maps for locations.

Note: Please be aware that pets must be on a leash, and that owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.