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

I am walking the 9 Creeks Loop for the next two weeks. The 9 Creeks Loop is a 42-mile circumference trail of Denver along the Sand Creek, the High Line, the Cherry Creek and the Platte River. I have already walked Mile 0-5, and this post is about 9 Creeks Loop Mile 5-10.

9creeks eatwalklearnI left off the Loop at the Bluff Lake Nature Center in Stapleton when I was walking Segment 2.

9 Creeks Loop Mile 10 Rural Aurora

9creeks eatwalklearnYou’ll leave the Bluff Lake Nature Center and immediately enter the City of Aurora after crossing under Peoria. 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 up 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.

9 Creeks Loop Mile 11

9creeks eatwalklearnThe first part of the Loop in Aurora continues on pebble trail and runs parallel to Sand Creek. Residences frame both sides of the Loop, and the Sand Creek Greenway has done a nice job with signage. The Loop is flat and easy to follow.

To see footage of this mile, watch this video.

9 Creeks Loop Mile 12

9creeks eatwalklearnShortly before mile 12, I came across a curious sign that said “Flat 14ers.” Interested, I vowed to research this once I got home. All throughout the Rocky Mountains are peaks that top 14,000 feet. With glorious views that require fit folks to climb above tree line in high elevations, many walkers either don’t have the resources or fitness to climb a 14er or simply don’t want to.  Throughout Denver, folks pride themselves on which 14ers they’ve done, if any. I researched Flat 14ers, I discovered it’s a wellness initiative to get folks to walk the equivalent of a 14er, but only on flat land, rather than through the tougher elevations. It appears the Flat 14ers cross our 9 Creeks Loop, heading north.

To see footage of this mile, watch this video.

The Bridges of 9 Creeks Loop Mile 11-12

9creeks eatwalklearn

The City of Aurora has done a nice job with foot bridges crossing the Creek along the Greenway. They are low and almost water height, so I imagine they probably flood. None the less, the bridges are a nice way to get close to the Creek and even do some fishing. On this part of the Greenway though, probably due to the threatening storm, no one was out fishing.

9 Creeks Loop Mile 12.5

9creeks eatwalkearnAt about mile 12.5 or so, the Greenway becomes concrete and begins about 30th Avenue in Aurora. The Creek parallels down the bank to the south. Bus benches dot the Loop, and on this day, I began to see joggers, walkers, and biking commuters. Although I was walking during rush hour, the street wasn’t too busy and I didn’t find the traffic or its noise too intolerable.

9creeks eatwalklearnOn my approach to Sable, I finally got the chance to talk to a walker. I gave her one of my Wallaroos, and she was blown away in not only finding out that the Sand Creek traveled 14 miles, but that it looped to other trails and created the 9 Creeks Loop. She vowed to start walking again, yet advised me that the next mile toward Star K Ranch might be a bit sketchy.

To see footage of this mile, watch this video.

9 Creeks Loop Mile 13

9creeks eatwalklearnDespite Stephanie’s warning, I continued across Sable and along the back side of a concrete plant. The Greenway dipped down into some woods and along Sand Creek, and I was pleasantly surprised by the evidence of beavers! Several trees had been gnawed and felled, but I couldn’t find any dams. None the less, a family of beavers is definitely at work on this part of the Trail. Shortly, I came to the entrance of Star K Ranch.

9creeks eatwalklearnStar K Ranch,  settled by Virgil “Pop” Stark a half century ago, became the destination for parties for Pop’s retirement. Over 3000 guests would come for 3-day parties, enjoying the great outdoors of the Ranch, its wildlife and its wonderful view. On Star K Ranch is the Morrison Center which includes parts of Pop’s home and nature exhibits. Unfortunately, a storm opened up on me, filled with lightening, so I took cover in a shelter just to the south of the Morrison Center. There, I waited out the storm for about 20 minutes then went to find the Sand Creek to High Line Connector.

To watch footage of this mile, watch this video.

9 Creeks Loop Mile 14

9creeks eatwalklearnI headed back east down the Greenway and in about 1/2 mile I came across a sign that said “High Line Canal 1/2 Mile.” I had found the connector, and thus ventured down through the woods, across the Sand Creek and up to the High Line Canal Trail. Along the way, I spotted a buck, a doe, and a fawn mule deer. The storm started to threaten again, so I hustled along to the next shelter, which was the Norfolk Glen park. Again, I had to wait another 20 minutes for the storm to pass.

To watch footage of this mile, watch this video.

9 Creek Loop Mile 9.5

9Creeks eatwalklearnSquarely on the High Line Canal, I continued along. At this point the High Line Canal Trail which runs along the Canal offers up a nice 8 foot wide cement path. I journeyed along the path for another mile, where residences framed the Canal and Trail once again. When I came to Colfax, which I gingerly crossed using the refuge zone in the middle of the street before completing the crossing.

9creeks eatwalklearnThus, 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, I found goat, sheep and chicken farms. It was fun to discover a remote control track called, “Bang Town” in someone’s backyard across from the sheep farm.

9 Creeks Loop Mile 10 Getting to Know Aurora

9creeks eatwalklearnMoving along and past the farms, the trail continues behind Hinkley High School. Hinkely 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?