Improvements in the South Platte River Trail

Photo attribution: Ron Townsend

Upcoming improvements in the South Platte River Trail – a step upward for downtown transportation, exercise, and general enjoyment.

One of the major advantages of downtown living is easy access to Denver’s network of trails. The Cherry Creek and South Platte River Trails meet at Confluence Park and together provide more than 100 miles of hard surface trail. They also connect to many other trails resulting in a huge number of trail combinations. For some, these trails are commuter routes, allowing travel to work or play by bicycle, scooter, or other environmentally friendly means. For others, the trails are primarily used for exercise – cycling, running walking, etc. Others use them just for enjoyment – strolling along the river or creek and enjoying the views.

Much of our trail system is several decades old. Portions have been redone – primarily when the original trail deteriorated severely or when adjacent development included reconfiguring or otherwise reconstructing the trail. Both of these reasons contribute to a large number of current and planned improvement projects along the South Platte River Trail. Some of these should be completed in the next 2 years, but others not until later in the decade. In many locations, the new trail will be wider and multi-surfaced, providing safer experiences for users of all types mentioned above.

A portion of the South Platte River trail south of us, extending from Johnson Habitat Park to Mississippi Ave has been closed for many months, since an adjacent retaining wall collapsed. A detour along Jason Street is functional for bicycles, but not a good option for pedestrians. According to denvergov.org, construction along this part of the trail will occur Spring-Fall 2023.

Additional areas of trail reconstruction south of downtown include the segment from Virginia Ave to Bayaud Ave, which will be widened, have improved lighting, and be accompanied by realignment of the adjacent South Platte River Drive. Design is currently in process with construction anticipated Spring 2024-Fall 2025 (denvergov.org).

To those of us who use the trail a lot, the segment immediately adjacent to I-25, Bayaud Ave to Phil Milstein Park, has long been the least enjoyable segment. A major construction project would move the trail to the west side of the river. Design is still being discussed, with funding (probably at least $11 million) and construction dates (probably taking 15-18 months) not yet defined. See Denverite.com (9/8/2022).

Major trail improvements are anticipated on the trails on both sides of the river from I-25 to Speer Blvd as part of the River Mile development which will occur in the coming years. The details of that development are being discussed and how the multi-use paths will look remains to be seen. Wider, better lit, safer routes are anticipated. Construction on some parts of the trail in this area could begin long before the entire project is designed (denvergov.org). (See Denverite.com 8/16/2022 and previously).

Trail improvements to the north from downtown are anticipated, especially along the Globeville Levee, which will be upgraded, likely in 2024-2025. (Denverite 9/8/2022).

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