Perhaps the Best Views in Denver
If you know Green Valley Ranch at all, you probably think of it as the neighborhood you pass on the way to Denver International Airport. But this large neighborhood, soon to be larger, plays home to the last segment of the High Line Canal (from mile markers 66 to 71), has amazing farm history, and plans to be Denver’s largest neighborhood. Here’s my write up of our urban hike through Green Valley Ranch, a rectangle-shaped neighborhood bounded by 56th Ave, Piccadilly, Tower, and 40th Ave.
A Ranch Becomes the Ranch
Back in the mid 1800s, the Ebert family cobbled together acre after acre of farmland to ultimately create a 1400 acre farm. Through its middle ran the Colorado Eastern Railroad, a small-gauge track moving coal to Denver’s smelters. Time passed, the High Line Canal dried up, and the farmers barely scraped a living. Eventually, Denver annexed the land in 1973, and developers in the 1980s bartered with the school board to market the neighborhood in a diverse manner to get around mandated desegregation.
One Big Boxy House after the Next
Soon, Green Valley Ranch and its old homestead gave way to the Green Valley Ranch subdivision. The developer, in his negotiations with the last remaining farmer, built a home for the farmer and his family, and his farm house was demolished. Now, with about 10,000 homes, Green Valley is but 30% built out with many new subdivisions planned in Aurora to abut Denver’s Green Valley and to squeeze in around the soon-to-be Gaylord Rockies Convention Center.
A planned subdivision, Green Valley Ranch has a variety of new build homes for every budget and family size. Think double-car garage with a yard, throw on a house, and you’ve got acres and acres of suburban living at its affordable best. Developers’ signs beckon from every corner.
And Still No Water
The irony of the neighborhood? The end of the High Line Canal peters out at 64th Ave because water could no longer get out this far in the canal. The Canal’s end is just a few hundred yards south of the Gaylord’s water park. So, where water could not get to in the past, water will now flood an area that never should have had water in the first place. Never the less, the High Line Canal trail will eventually reappear once the Painted Prairie subdivision is finished, and it will connect to trails heading to DIA and beyond.
To see the map and the turn-by-turn directions, continue below.
Park on Ireland Street just north of where it intersects with 56th Ave. Set your GPS to 19901 E 56th Ave, Denver. Go past this address, turn north (left) on Ireland St. This street is a short block, ending in a field to the west of an off-site airport parking lot.
Walk to the north end of the street and look out into the field. You will see large PVC pipes running parallel and throughout the field. These pipes mark the historic High Line Canal, and eventually, you’ll see trail through this area making its way north once the Painted Prairie subdivision is put in. For more about the High Line Canal, you might want to visit the High Line Canal Conservancy.
Turn around and walk south on Ireland, being careful as you cross 56th Ave. Follow the sidewalk down Ireland, taking a left on Maxwell. Look to your right, and you’ll see the trailhead for the High Line Canal. It’s also at the tee box for the Green Valley Ranch Golf Course.
Follow the High Line Canal trail. It will follow the fairway then take a left along another tee box. You’ll see large cottonwoods on your right and a water feature (look for beaver!). Continue along the High Line Canal trail, following the High Line signs.
You’ll pass a green on your left and a weather shelter on your right. Sometimes there is a yellow igloo of water for the golfers. Continue along the High Line Canal trail until you get to E 49th Ave. Continue along the sidewalk on 49th for one block.
At Orleans St, take a left. The High Line Canal Trail will continue to the east, but you’ll exit the trail and go north. Soon, you’ll cross the unmarked First Creek. At the next intersection, take a left on Stoll Place.
Continue northwesterly along Stoll. It will turn into Netherland St. Walk north until you come to Maxwell Place.
Take a left on Maxwell. Walk along Maxwell until you get to Ireland. Take a right on Ireland, crossing 56th, and returning to where you started, completing this 4-mile loop.