Peaks to Plains Trail

The Peaks to Plains Project Vision

The vision of the Peaks to Plains Trail is a 65-mile trail of statewide significance that will serve the 3 million residents of the Denver metro area. The goal is that the Peaks to Plains Trail will one day connect the South Platte Trail in Denver to the headwaters of Clear Creek at Loveland Pass. Once completed, it will connect four counties and seven cities, with a total elevation gain of more than 1 mile. 

This legacy trail project will offer visitors a truly quintessential Colorado experience. That is why it was chosen as one of former Governor Hickenlooper’s 16 highest priority trail projects in the state as part of the Colorado the Beautiful Initiative.  

The first portions of the Peaks to Plains Trail in Clear Creek Canyon Park opened in 2016 and 2017, offering four miles of 10-foot-wide paved surface right along Clear Creek. The next step will be continuing the trail east to Golden with the Mouth of the Canyon segment.

View Full Peaks to Plains Trail Map

Current Construction

Since work began this past spring on the Peaks to Plains Trail at the mouth of Clear Creek Canyon, crews with Concrete Express Inc. (CEI) have made significant progress on the south side of Clear Creek. In the past six months, CEI has established the 1-mile long trail alignment adjacent to Clear Creek, which required 200 linear feet of rockery walls, 1000 linear feet of stabilized earth, and poured 170 cubic yards of concrete for walls. Work has also begun on the south abutment for the pedestrian bridge that will span Clear Creek near Tunnel 1.

In the next few weeks, work will begin on the section of trail north of Clear Creek. Given the proximity to U.S. 6, this work will have periodic impacts to traffic traveling up and down Clear Creek Canyon. These impacts could include short-term traffic stops to allow trucks access to and from the work zone, single lane closures to accommodate certain activities, some overnight, full closures of U.S. 6 to maintain public safety, and closures of the existing parking areas along U.S. 6. The closure of the existing parking areas will be permanent, until the new parking area is completed in late fall of 2020. Please observe all closures and signage.

The Peaks to Plains Trail is envisioned to be a 65-mile corridor that follows Clear Creek from its headwaters at Loveland Pass on the Continental Divide, down to the confluence with the South Platte River north of Denver. The 16 ½-mile stretch through Clear Creek Canyon includes a 3-mile section that opened in July 2016 and another 1-mile section that opened in August 2017.

Construction of the trail in the mouth of Clear Creek Canyon will connect to the completed section of trail in Golden, ultimately connecting users to more than 80 miles of existing trail and is expected to be completed in late 2020.  

Potential Impacts of Construction

In 2019, most of the work will focus on building the trail on the south side of Clear Creek. This work could have minor impacts to people using the existing trails along the creek, but it should have minimal effect on US 6 traffic. Any work that could affect US 6 traffic is anticipated to be done in 2020 in conjunction with unrelated tunnel work the Colorado Department of Transportation is doing. More information on this work and any associated travel impacts will be available as this work approaches.

As with any construction project, the general public should exercise caution when in this area and be prepared for the following:

  • Slow moving construction trucks merging on and off US 6
  • Short-term delays for visitors to allow construction equipment to pass
  • Potential closures of existing trails in the area
  • Construction equipment and noise along the banks of Clear Creek during daytime hours
  • Possible short-term limitations on creek access to accommodate construction activities
  • Travel impacts on U.S. 6 in 2020 to accommodate multiple construction projects
  • Closure of existing parking areas along U.S. 6 in 2020 while the new parking lots are built

The result of the project includes 1.75 miles of new Peaks to Plains trail, two developed trailheads with amenities, two new bridges, and design work for improvements and restoration of approximately 1.5 miles of the Welch Ditch trail, including 0.5 miles of the historic wooden flume. The wooden flume is currently closed to visitors but will be open to the public after the repairs are completed. The restored trail along the Welch Ditch flume will be hiker-only.

Project complexities include steep canyon walls, narrow trail corridor, sensitive riparian areas, the creek, historic structures, access, minimizing impacts to visitors, and the Ute Ladies’ Tresses Orchid—a federally threatened species. 

View Video About the Mouth of the Canyon Project
View Mouth of the Canyon Project Map
View Mouth of the Canyon Project Fact Sheet
View Mouth of the Canyon Project Community Meeting Presentation
View Mouth of the Canyon Project Community Meeting Q&A
View Peaks to Plains Trail in Clear Creek Canyon Map
Learn More about the Peaks to Plains Trail

Previous Construction

Through a partnership with Clear Creak County Open Space, the first segment of the Peaks to Plains trail in Clear Creek Canyon opened in summer 2016. This 3-mile segment of trail, two miles in Jefferson County and one in Clear Creek County, is a 10-foot-wide, stained concrete surface, with 500 feet in elevation gain, six new or improved river access points, the Mayhem Gulch trailhead, and three bridges across Clear Creek. The bridges have overlooks so that visitors can enjoy the view over the water. The trail is multi-use and welcomes a variety of recreational activities.

In fall 2017, the final three quarters of a mile of the first segment of trail opened, along with a developed recreation area and trailhead. The Big Easy trailhead and recreation area has a restroom, 54 parking spaces, fishing platforms over the water, picnic pavilions, a geology garden, and a boardwalk in areas where vegetation needs to be protected. A new bridge also spans the creek, which connects to the Mayhem Gulch trailhead westward up the canyon.

View videos about previous construction on the Peaks to Plains Trail

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