The High Line Canal Trail is one of metro Denver's most pawpular dog-walking destinations. The canal was built in 1883, a breakthrough in irrigation for a growing community of farmers, ranchers, and miners. The trail follows the course of its namesake waterway from Aurora to the outskirts of Roxborough Park, passing through community parks, affluent subdivisions, golf courses, and nature preserves along the way.
The canal's water creates a swath of green space through the suburbs where birds, reptiles, and other wildlife thrive in trees and grasslands. Much of the trail is paved with summer shade, an easy stroll for tender paws, but be ready to share the road with joggers, bikers, and equestrians as you take a tour of western Denver. The trail is available year-round, so try a little winter mushing if you have any sled-dogs in your pack.
Although portions of the trail have peaceful wooded views, others feel more social. Your inner voyeur will enjoy the occasional views into suburban backyards, while your pup will sniff out plenty of new friends on the trail, especially during peak weekend and weekday evening hours. Parks along the way offer public toilets and drinking water. Three Ponds Park in Cherry Hill and deKoevend Park in Centennial are furrific starting points for your exploration. If you're hiking long-distance, expect to walk for miles between pit stops and plan accordingly.
If your pack is hiking the southern end of the High Line, note that trail conditions do get increasingly rugged as you pass Chatfield State Park and reach the trail's rather abrupt endpoint. The final 7.4 miles are unpaved. Before you decide to "ruff" it, be aware that you're next door to one of the most epic off-leash dog parks in the Western US. The Chatfield dog area is 69 fenced acres with two ponds and several trails, all open for off-leash frolicking. (Entrance fees apply and vaccinations and waste bags are required.) The High Line Trail traces the park's border along two sides, so you might consider a detour.
Because the High Line Trail passes through a number of different municipal jurisdictions, note that trail hours can vary locally, so obey posted signage.