All things considered, this is an excellent canal trail network for being in East Denver. Much of the trail is a wide gravel path, that sees little bike traffic. There are also many ways to take the trails out here, along with short extensions that add some variety. This is a great option for those that are students, faculty, or clinicians on the Anschutz Medical Campus.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — Lake — Wildlife
This trail network can be accessed from many locations. The largest parking areas are at Bluff Lake, The Sand Creek Trailhead, and Star K Ranch. This trail is also frequently accessed by heading down a dirt road to the east of the Fitzsimmons Golf Course.
This route provides a nice tour of the trails along with two loops at Bluff Lake and Star K Ranch. When starting at the Sand Creek Trailhead, begin along a cement sidewalk and head west around a small pond. Once on the gravel trail, follow it east as it travels beneath Peoria and the light rail. Follow the construction detour signs and up a short climb where the trail will parallel MLK Jr. Blvd. Take a right into the Bluff Lake Trail
, and make your way through the parking lot to the entrance.
Follow the path down the short hill, and circumnavigate the lake either clockwise or counterclockwise. From here retrace your steps but instead of traveling back up to the trailhead after passing under the Peoria bridge, stay left and cross a low concrete bridge to the north side of Sand Creek. Stay left on this trail and eventually it will turn into a sidewalk that parallels East 30th. After crossing Sable Blvd, the trail will return to gravel.
Continue along this for about a half mile, when the trail splits stay right to take the trail under Chambers. The next junction will be for Star K Ranch on your right. Follow the sign into the ranch and stay left along a doubletrack road. Once at the trailhead stay on the trail to the south of the parking lot. Once on the Star K Ranch loop there will be another junction.
To the left will take you directly back to the Sand Creek Trail, stay right at this junction and follow the twisting trail through the trees. Once out take a left and get back onto the Sand Creek Trail where you'll retrace your steps. After crossing beneath I-225, you should see a large pedestrian bridge that crosses over Sand Creek.
Continue past this bridge to the next trail that descends toward the creek on your left. Ignore the sign that says "Access to Fitzsimmons Closed" as this does not apply to your route. This trail will cross over a low concrete bridge. At the next intersection take a right and follow the sidewalk around the pond and back to your car.
There are many ways to change up the route of this trail, but this is a good foundation to the primary route. Most of the side trails lead back to the main trail, and are all worth exploring.
It's common to see many small animals and birds in the Bluff Lake and Star K Ranch areas.