Why we love it: It is smack dab in the middle of Denver, but doesn't have the heavy traffic of the Cherry Creek Trail.
When to go: Because much of the trail is shaded, you can venture out all day. We like to hop on the path in Aurora (corner of East Exposition Avenue and South Havana Street) so we can stop for brunch at nearby Pho 79.
Coloradans seems obsessed with the extreme. How far did you bike? How long was your run? How high did you camp? And so on. Usually, I'm willing to play the how-fast-can-you-hike game, but some days, I just want to get outside, enjoy the sun, and cruise. On those days, I pull out my non-racing bike and leisurely set out on the Highline Canal Trail. The path follows a Denver Water irrigation canal for 66 miles through the Denver metro area. Sure, you could ride the entire length, but the trek is even better for low-key rides.
Much of the mostly flat trail is shaded by massive cottonwoods that line the waterway. You'll find serious bikers, but you'll find even more grandmothers pushing strollers, dads walking dogs, and young professional types fitting in a run. Stop along the way for a quick breather at the numerous benches and clearings.
Getting there: Hop on the trail anywhere in the metro area. Click here for a PDF map.