Be prepared to encounter many hikers, runners, dog walkers, cyclists, climbers, paddlers and fishermen who all use this trailhead to access everything that the Colorado outdoors has to offer.
The Welch Ditch Trail is predominantly a climbers access trail but it is also great for a short hike into the mouth of Clear Creek Canyon. As of the writing of this description however, the trail is closed for maintenance at its start and end. Typically you can pick up the trail at the base of Lookout Mountain off of Hwy 6, at the start of the Chimney Gulch
Trail. However, the only legal way to access the Welch Ditch Trail now is through Grant Terry Park along the Clear Creek Trail
From the parking area off of Hwy 6 at the start of Clear Creek Canyon, follow the wide trail beyond the Church Ditch Company's road block and no trespassing sign. I don't suggest trespassing but it is unclear if this is a current closure or not. Many many people are using this trail, however, I do not condone trespassing...
Follow the trail down and at the switchback follow the unofficial trail to the left along the wall down to the Clear Creek Trail
. Turn right on the Clear Creek Trail
through large cottonwood forest. There are multiple creek access points and this area is beautiful in the fall when the cottonwoods are golden. As you follow the trail you'll soon see the pedestrian bridge crossing the creek. Turn right up the stone steps to reach the bridge and cross Clear Creek.
Follow the trail as it switchbacks up to the Welch Ditch Trail and turn right. From here you can follow the trail into Clear Creek Canyon but not as far as you used to. The trail ends for maintenance after a popular climbing spot. The views up the canyon are wonderful and the views back towards Golden and South Table Mountain's Castle Rock are also terrific, especially in late October when Clear Creek is lined with fall colors. Go back the way you came, but this time when you cross the bridge, turn right and follow the wide path as is climbs up the canyon and returns you to the parking area.
If you area looking for a quick hike with great fall colors and close to Denver or Golden, then the Welch Ditch Trail is a good one. Soon the Peak to Plains bike trail will go through the entire canyon, but until then this is one of the few hikes that accesses Clear Creek Canyon.