About The Canal

71 miles meandering though the diverse physical and social mosaic of the region, experiencing the High Line Canal means connecting with nature and communities. The High Line Canal is one of the longest and most spectacular linear parks in the nation. It spans 11 governmental jurisdictions from Waterton Canyon in Douglas County to Green Valley Ranch in Northeast Denver. Its cottonwood banks weave through residential neighborhoods, public parks, golf courses, cemeteries, commercial and industrial lands, and over and under urban thruways, all while offering those traveling its banks a slice of nature in the City.

The Canal Today

As one of the longest (over 71 miles) continuous urban trails in the country, the Canal twists through the most populated area of Colorado while crossing multiple and varied communities. Over 350,000 residents reside within one mile of the Canal and recent data indicates that annually more than 500,000 people use the Canal as a recreational asset.

With the indisputable urgency for conservation and environmental protection of the natural places we love, the Canal has become a prime example of how we must look at the future differently than the past. More than 80 percent of the water diverted to the Canal seeps into the ground or evaporates prior to reaching a paying water customer, which means that the community needs to generate uses for the Canal and its greenway that will preserve the qualities that people love about it–spending time walking, riding and recreating along the Canal. To that end, the Conservancy and Denver Water are pursuing a comprehensive planning project to examine the long-term purpose of the Canal and its natural and recreational resources.

Map of High Line Canal

The Future of the Canal

The Canal is at a turning point in its future – a point at which, we, the community, need to proactively envision uses for the Canal and its greenway that will preserve and enhance the well-loved qualities of this incredible environmental and recreational asset.

Get Involved

Connect with the Conservancy to find out how you can get involved in the future visioning and planning of the Canal.


Hours + Rules

Hours: Open year round, 5 a.m. – 11 p.m., subject to modification by recreation agencies.

Uses: walking, nature viewing, bicycling, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking.

The Guide to High Line Canal

Discover our region’s 71-mil linear park with the latest Map and Guide to the High Line Canal.


The High Line Canal Working Group discussing a new management framework for the High Line Canal this morning. Details are in the works. The group will finalize the proposed Canal Collaborative this Spring. https://t.co/vkbrwmKAA3

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Questions + Answers

The Canal is a 71-mile long canal channel, with a corresponding service road, that twists through the Denver metro region. The corridor is 100 feet wide in most sections and varies in landscape throughout its reach from Waterton Canyon in Douglas County to Green Valley Ranch in Northeast Denver.
The course of the Canal touches Douglas, Arapahoe, Denver and a small portion of Adams counties, passing through South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, Highlands Ranch Metro District, Littleton, Centennial, Greenwood Village, Cherry Hills Village, Denver and Aurora. The Canal runs from Southwest to Northeast.
Currently, the Canal is managed by Denver Water. In addition, each of the jurisdictions has a user agreement (IGA) to maintain the recreational trail portion of the corridor. There are seven agencies with recreation use agreements that are responsible for maintaining the High Line Canal Trail. These agencies are: Douglas County Parks, Trails and Building Grounds Division; Metro District of Highlands Ranch Parks and Open Space; South Suburban Parks and Recreation District; Greenwood Village Parks, Trails and Recreation Department; Cherry Hills Village Parks, Trails and Recreation Department; Denver Parks and Recreation Department; and Aurora Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department. Each of these entities is represented on the High Line Canal Working Group.
Denver Water will continue to manage the Canal for the foreseeable future. During this comprehensive outreach and future master planning initiative, however, Denver Water along with the Conservancy and other stakeholders will evaluate future management options for the Canal.
The Conservancy has the distinct role of building community leadership and commitment to preserving, protecting and enhancing the Canal. This public outreach and vision planning effort is its first major initiative. This initiative will provide a vision for the future of the High Line Canal. The Conservancy will coordinate with other stakeholders and the High Line Canal Working Group members on its needs as it plans for and conducts the High Line Canal visioning process. Denver Water, the Conservancy and the partnership jurisdictions all share a common vision to secure the Canal as an asset for the future.
The 100 foot wide swath of land that travels the High Line Canal’s 71-mile reach presents tremendous opportunities for the Denver metro region. With the new reality of water in the West, the Canal has become a costly and wasteful means of delivering water. Denver Water reports that over 80 percent of the water diverted to the Canal seeps into the ground or evaporates prior to reaching a paying water customer. Today’s water scarcity and the leaky nature of the Canal demand reassessment and planning for new uses, while recognizing the important role that the Canal plays as a major recreational resource for the Denver metro area.
Denver Water intermittently operates the Canal from the spring through the fall to deliver water to contract holders for South Platte River water. The delivery of water, however, is also dependent on water priority as set by the State Engineer and water rights laws. Therefore, the Canal does not run continuously in the summer and spring and is dry in the fall and winter.

In addition, due to high waters this year, the diversion structure at Waterton Canyon has been compromised and is in need of repair before water can be released into the Canal.

Yes, Denver Water has plans to repair the diversion structure prior to the Spring of 2016.

Keep informed and up to date through our blog.The blog will provide you with details about the planning process and directions for getting involved. You can also sign up for our newsletter.

The Canal’s History

The workers who built the High Line Canal more than a century ago didn’t envision that people would be using their ambitious irrigation project as a recreational outlet in the midst of a busy urban area. In fact, to the builders of the 71-mile High Line, the Canal was solely a commercial idea to bring South Platte River water to settlers and farmers following a gold rush in 1859 near the confluence of the South Platte and Cherry Creek.

The Canal Through The Years