Today’s hike was planned to add some distance and also the extra stress of hiking on consecutive days. It was basically a test to see how our feet and muscles would respond to some of what we will experience along he Camino de Santiago in April. We hiked yesterday for 4+ miles at hilly Staunton State Park, elevation 8,200 feet and today we planned a 10+ mile hike on the relatively flat Highline Canal Trail in Centennial, CO.
The weather was forecast to be a glorious on this fall day, with temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s. We decided to forgo our large 40 and 60 liter packs and take our light fanny packs instead. We headed down to Centennial after rush hour and arrived at 1030 at our chosen beginning point, DeKoevend Open Space Park. We parked at the South Suburban Ice Arena, home to many Olympians and hockey stars, and quickly hit the trail.
Just as predicted, the weather was beautiful and the scenery was fantastic. The fall colors and snow capped views of Colorado’s Front Range were incredible. We decided to hike south on the trail which led us through the City of Centennial into the City of Littleton.
The Highline Canal was originally constructed in 1879 to provide water from the South Platte River to many farms along its route, but now most of the farmlands have become well established residential communities. It meanders 66 miles through Douglas, Arapahoe, Denver and Adams Counties. The canal still flows and provides water to farms, but now it is most famous for is recreational uses.
Here is a neat map of the canal’s course: http://www.denverwater.org/docs/assets/30FCFB89…/highline_printable1.pdf
At the intersection of Lee Gulch Trail and the Highline there is an interesting old water bridge which was constructed to allow the canal to pass over the stream. The City of Littleton’s Lee Gulch trail allows hikers to trek northwest to the Platte River Trail, which goes from the far south suburbs of Denver to north of the city. Metro Denver has a great trail network and we will be using many of their trails in the upcoming months as we get closer to our Camino experience.
Today’s entire 10+ mile hike took us just under 4 hours and the trek was very pleasurable. We did not experience any problems with our muscles, knees, foot hot spots or callouses. Overall, we seem to be on track with the right hiking gear and are getting in pretty good shape for the Camino.