Big Dry Creek Trail
The Big Dry Creek Trail is the crown jewel of Westminster's off-road trail system. The trail meanders nearly 12 miles from Standley Lake Regional Park to Interstate 25, crossing under most streets through underpasses. The trail is located on more than 800 acres of Westminster open space and 200 acres of park land along the creek, a land area greater than New York's 843-acre Central Park! The Big Dry Creek Trail has been designated a National Recreation Trail since 2003.
Because many people will not walk or bike the entire trail at one time, the trail descriptions are divided up in various segments, going from west to east.
Charts showing the distance between major landmarks on the trail are available for download in either miles or kilometers.
Standley Lake to Wadsworth Parkway (2.0 miles/3.2 kilometers). Park in the trailhead parking lot south of 100th Avenue at Owen Street and go east on the trail that passes by the lot. The gravel trail gradually descends down to the creek next to the Standley Lake spillway with its several "amphitheater-like" concrete structures designed to slow down water and prevent erosion. Pass by attractive Loon Lake, one of Westminster's only lakes not visible from a street. Soon the trail begins to follow the creek's many twists and turns prior to reaching the Wadsworth Parkway underpass.
Wadsworth Parkway to Wadsworth Boulevard (0.8 mi/1.3 km). The concrete trail passes under the railroad bridge and curves left to 99th Avenue. Go right on this segment of rural asphalt road to Wadsworth Boulevard. In the future, a separate trail will be built. This is the only section of the trail where private residential development precludes the trail from following the creek. Pass by Jefferson Academy and some city open space before reaching Wadsworth Boulevard.
Wadsworth Boulevard to 104th Avenue (1.5 mi/2.4 km). This gravel, then concrete, then gravel trail passes next to the Church Ranch Business Park and very close to Big Dry Creek. On the left is the historic 1865 Church Ranch white barn, Westminster's oldest structure. Watch for the Walnut Creek Trail junction before passing through a wide open space area and under U.S. 36. The sidewalk to the left just before the next bridge (Westminster Boulevard) leads to the Butterfly Pavilion. Pause on the bridge over Big Dry Creek to observe the water that can be gushing or dribbling, depending upon the season, before reaching 104th Avenue.
104th Avenue to Sheridan Boulevard (1.1 mi/1.8 km). Enter City Park north of 104th Avenue with its many attractions and numerous side trails. Visit the scenic Promenade Terrace waterfall and amphitheater via a concrete trail on the left. Prairie dogs announce your arrival with their "barks." The main trail crosses the creek and the trail turns right, hugging the edge of the Sheridan Green Subdivision. On the right the creek makes several large swings as it meanders through City Park to Sheridan Boulevard.
Sheridan Boulevard to 120th Avenue (2.2 mi/3.5 km). Enter a wilder section of the trail next to a marshy wetland. Just past the Cotton Creek Trail junction swing left and down a short hill to cross the creek and go under 112th Avenue. From here to 120th Avenue, there are lots of wide open areas that include two small ponds. Side trails in this section include the College Trail, which leads to Front Range Community College and College Hill Library, plus trails to the Bradburn development, Westfield Park and the Sheridan Crossing Shopping Center. Note the interpretive signs that highlight some of the wildlife and history of the Big Dry Creek corridor. Look for coyotes and foxes, especially at dusk. The trail goes past the Stratford Lakes subdivision, and then under 120th Avenue. Photo: College Pond in the Big Dry Creek Open Space, just north of Front Range Community College.
Photo by Mike Smith.
120th Avenue to 128th Avenue (1.9 mi/3.1 km). Pass near the creek on the left and a wetland on the right before paralleling Federal Parkway for a short distance. The trail veers north and then east to follow the tree-lined creek valley.
After crossing under Federal Parkway, the trail doubles back and up and down a hillside before reaching the Home Farm Trail junction. The trail winds over the creek and through a grassy field to 128th Avenue, with a side trail to trailhead parking.
128th Avenue to I-25 (2.2 mi/3.5 km). The trail takes a sharp turn to the right just north of the 128th Avenue bridge. The trail passes Bull Reservoir, which is a wonderful bird-filled wetland area. Look for bald eagles perching on the tall cottonwood trees. The trail crosses a bridge and veers away from the creek, passing through a grassy meadow before rejoining the creek near Huron Street. Pass under the new Huron Street bridge and past the city's wastewater and reclaimed water treatment facilities. The trail winds its way to the Quail Creek Trail junction on the left and the I-25 underpass shortly thereafter. Eventually, Thornton and Adams County plan to extend the Big Dry Creek Trail to the South Platte River.