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.
Jeffco Open Space started on the second segment of the Clear Creek Canyon stretch in 2018 with a contract for design from the east entrance of the canyon at the intersection of US 6/Hwy 58/Hwy 93, west to Tunnel 1. Named the Mouth of the Canyon project, it will include 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.
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.