Waterton Canyon: OPEN

After a year and a half (minus a short break last winter), Waterton Canyon is finally open again.  It took a long time for them to complete the Strontia Springs dredging project.  I did part of my run up there this morning and was reminded of what a great place it is.  Yeah, it’s not miles of gnarly singletrack, but it is a nice secluded place to put it in cruise and enjoy the scenery.

I left my house at 6:00 and ran through the lot after a couple of miles, it was completely empty.

That would change…

I did a few miles out and back in Chatfield before looping back to run up the canyon.

There were a few new items, but no massive changes.

New sign.

New trailhead signs.

Some leftover equipment.

It was a cold 17 degrees when I left home, but I was warmed up by the time I headed up the canyon.

I always have U2’s One Tree Hill play through my head when I pass this spot.

A new table/shelter at mile 2.

Dam.  River.

Nice of them to install a mirror so you can check your look before hitting the top.

Then I spotted a cool monster icicle mouth.

So nice to run a 12 mile out-and-back with no roads to cross or traffic to worry about.  Just take in the view and let the legs do their thing.

No snakes today!

Information overload!  So much to keep track of.


I was the only one at the dam when I stopped to turn back.  There had been a couple of bikers come down the canyon while I was going up, though.  They looked miserably cold.

The sun came out and I had a small tailwind which made for a great trip back down the canyon.

The folks at the house near the halfway point have taken a cue from the church at the top of the High Grade climb and put out a cooler of goodies.  No credit cards accepted, though.

It looks like just water for now.  Better start donating.

Lots of people were coming up the canyon now.  It was great to bump into Leila and Donnie, and all the other runners I saw seemed especially happy.  We would smile at each other like, yeah – it’s good to be back!

I even spotted a guy on an off-road unicycle.  Pretty sure it wasn’t Rob…

Still facing another closure, but this one will seem like a piece of cake after 1.5 years.

After another week of warm temps, and after the word gets out, this place will be standing room only.  Even on the busiest days, it’s not too bad.  Plenty of room for everyone.

I was suprised not to see any sheep.  I thought they would be everywhere after having the place to themselves for so long.  I stopped and talked to a guy who was hiking with a D90 hooked up to what looked like a four foot long lens and he hadn’t seen any, either.

There were some cool ice formations in the river as I crossed the bridge and made my way back home.  23 miles later.

Posted on March 3, 2012, in run, stuff. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I’ll have to check that out some time, if I can tear myself away from the maze of singletrack along the Platte/Chatfield.

    Cool rocks and ice.

    According to the sign, I did OK in my dealings with rattlesnakes (only one of which was directly on a trail), other than trying to roll small rocks towards it to scare it off. It doesn’t work. It held its ground, and obviously had no intention of leaving.

    • It’s definitely worth checking out. Makes for a great weekday excursion once the days get longer, too.

      Most snakes that I’ve seen are highly resistant to the suggestions to move. Rocks, sticks, squirts from my bottle – nope.

  2. Scott Williams

    I’m definitely going to have to try this place out. Is it wide dirt track the whole way?

    • Yep. Here is another shot showing what the surface looks like:

      Way back when it used to be a railroad bed, but is now dirt road. After 6 miles you come to the dam/reservoir. Then from there some more dirt road leads to the start of the Colorado Trail which is some fantastic singletrack.

      • Scott Williams

        Me like. I wish I had brought my running gear to work with me so I could go today (I work just down the road from Chatfield; but live in Parker).

        Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow. You’re only a day away.

        (I’m slobbering over myself because in order to run on anything ‘dry’ these days it’s gotta be on the Cherry Creek trail which runs right behind my house. Great trail but unfortunately it’s all concrete and my legs have been hankering for some nice undriven dirt roads to run on).

  3. Scott Williams

    One more question: I’m looking at an aerial view on Bing Maps and I see where the parking lot is. However, when you’re running on the ‘trail’ are you pretty much on the ‘S Platte River Rd’? So, to me it looks like you park on the east side of Waterton Rd and then cross the blacktop and run west on S Platte River Rd. Is that right?

    • Yep, you got it. Hadn’t looked at in on Bing before – it is the one labeled S Platte River Rd. (but it is closed to normal vehicle traffic – there may be a maintenance vehicle once in a while, but it’s pretty quiet for the most part). As you get to the south end of Wadsworth, start looking for Waterton signs. Parking is on the east like you saw, then you cross back over the road to head west up the canyon. Good luck!

  4. I’m laughing because I re-read this after running it on Sunday, and I took a lot of the same pictures, including the mirror. It must be irresistible!

    Thanks for the tip, always nice to have another “trail” option.

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