Site Details

descriptions and directions

Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

High Line Canal (Denver Section) - Denver County
Aliases: Sunfish Lake, Bible Park, Hutchinson Park, Eisenhower Park, Wellshire Golf Course, Skeel Reservoir
Ownership: None Listed
Description: The High Line Canal is often dry these days, but it is still worth visiting. The semi-retired watercourse is now the route of a public bike trail that passes through many of Denver County's better birding areas. Due to its twisty route and the illogical boundaries of Denver, the canal jumps in and out of Denver County many times between Havana and Hampden, and those who really care about their county lists should arm themselves with a detailed map of the city before setting out. Others can settle for the knowledge that all the sections of the trail mentioned in this description are inside Denver County.

The mile-and-a-half stretch of the High Line Canal west of Havana and east of Valentia may be the best birding area along the canal in Denver. Large cottonwoods line this stretch almost continuously, supplemented by adjacent tall trees in many yards, and there are good undergrowth tangles in some places. Southeast of the trail's junction with Valentia is a good natural area, which is not open to the public but can be partially birded from the trail side of the fence. Sunfish Lake is reputed to be inside the enclosure, but you can't see it from the road. Just west of Valentia, the canal trail adjoins Fairmount Cemetery (q.v.).

Heading west, the next noteworthy part of the canal is near its junction with the Cherry Creek Greenbelt. The area around the confluence of the creek and the canal is quite good, with several informal footpaths through riparian forest on both sides of Cherry Creek. Bushtit has been seen here as well as flocks of migrant landbirds.

Bible Park, just south of Yale and east of Monaco, has some nice large cottonwoods and an interesting birding area near its south end, along the ditch that crosses Dartmouth. The area south of Dartmouth (which is technically part of Hutchinson Park) has fewer large trees, but a great deal of low dense riparian willow brush, which is probably the best collection of this habitat in Denver. Don't expect breeding MacGillivray's Warbler, but you might find a migrating one.

West of Bible Park, the canal trail runs through pretty decent stuff all the way down to and including Eisenhower Park and the adjacent public Wellshire Golf Course, where the trail skirts Skeel Reservoir and some deciduous tangles. South of Hampden, the canal trail leaves Denver County for good.

Habitat: Lowland Riparian, Urban/Suburban, Park/Cemetery
Directions: To get to Exposition Park, the east end of the canal trail in Denver County, take the Hampden exit off of I-25 and follow Hampden east as it curves to the north and becomes Havana. Follow Havana north for a little over 3 miles, past Mississippi, to Exposition Ave. Take a right on Exposition and look for the parking lot on the left, in less than a half-mile. To reach Bible Park, take the Yale exit off of I-25 and go east a little over a half-mile, over Monaco, and look for the parking lot on the right. To get to Eisenhower Park, on the west end of the canal in Denver County, take the Hampden exit off of I-25 and go west for a little under a mile to Colorado, and take a right. Go north three blocks to Dartmouth, and take a right. Park along Dartmouth to access the park to the south.
Other Wildlife:
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