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Featured National Recreation Trail

Big Dry Creek Trail, Westminster, Colorado

This National Recreation Trail is a major link in the Denver Metro system of trails and greenways.

Colorado Map

The 10-mile trail is managed by the City of Westminster. The trail is used by walkers, joggers, bicyclists, equestrians, rollerskaters, bird watchers, wildlife enthusiasts, and commuters.

Westminster began the preservation of the Big Dry Creek Open Space and Trail Corridor in 1989 with the acquisition of four acres. Since then, almost 700 acres have been acquired along this 9.5-mile corridor, which travels through the middle of the City.

Acquisition of this corridor is for open space, trail, natural area, and view preservation. Abundant wildlife and native vegetation thrive along the trail corridor, bringing tranquility to this otherwise urban center. The Big Dry Creek Trail is a regional trail and ultimately this corridor will allow connections to be made to the South Platte River Corridor and to the communities of Broomfield, Thornton, and Northglenn to the east.

The Big Dry Creek Trail connects significant points of interest across Westminster. On the west, the trail begins at Standley Lake Regional Park in Jefferson County. In addition to the lake and educational visitor center, this site is home to a pair of nesting bald eagles, unique in such an urban setting. The trail continues to the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center, then connects to the Promenade Terrace entertainment Amphitheater.

The trail spans the western boundary of the City Park sports complex and the recreation/fitness centers located there. Crossing into Adams County, the trail connects to Front Range Community College and the extensive Big Dry Creek open space. This land was once an archaeological research site, yielding Native American artifacts. Interpretive signs explain the history of the area as discovered through the archeological dig. Big Dry Creek Trail continues to the eastern border of the City.

The construction of trail underpasses at several major thoroughfares was funded in part by Transportation Enhancements (TEA-21) funds. An old water culvert was converted to a popular pedestrian underpass to make use of existing features. The addition of the underpasses allow trail users to avoid busy intersections and traffic, making the Big Dry Creek Trail safe, easy to navigate, and appropriate for many recreational activities, diverse age groups, and users of varying physical abilities.

Westminster utilizes several resources to ensure proper maintenance and enhancements to the trail. Grants have been used to enlist the services of the Mile High Youth Corps. Also, Westminster has an enthusiastic and hard-working volunteer base to help stretch budget dollars for tail enhancements and revitalization.

Open space volunteers have contributed hundreds of hours in projects along the trail, including trail enhancements, bank stabilization, re-vegetation, wetland mitigation, fence removal, fish habitat development, trash cleanup, and noxious weed management. In addition, trail hosts help monitor the trail to report any concerns or suggestions. The City received grant awards from Adams County Open Space Program and Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund for land acquisitions. The City has also received significant support from Jefferson County's Open Space Program for both acquisition and development of this Trails 2000 corridor.

The City received an award of honorable mention from the Denver Regional Council of Governments for the completion of the Big Dry Creek Open Space and Trail Corridor under the objectives of the Metro Vision Plan for the five county region.

The National Recreation Trails Program
American Trails, P.O. Box 491797, Redding, CA 96049-1797 (530) 547-2060 Fax: (530) 547-2035 nrt@americantrails.org www.AmericanTrails.org

Photo from horse on trail
Northshore Trail at Grapevine Lake, Flower Mound, TX (photo: Peggie Kimberlin)

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