Dog-Friendly Denver

West of Denver
Just the Facts

Location: Aurora

Getting there: The east entrance station is off of Parker Rd., 1.5 miles south of I-225; the west entrance station is reached via Yosemite St., south of I-225 and Union Ave.

Leash laws: Dogs must be leashed, except in the dog training area

Fees: No entrance fee if you walk (or bike) into the park from one of the trail accesses

Just the Facts

Location: southwest of Littleton

Getting there: Take C-470 east or Wadsworth Blvd. south. If you're coming from C-470, take the Wadsworth Blvd. exit and drive south for one mile to the park entrance on the left.

Leash laws: Dogs must be leashed, except in the dog training area.

Excerpted from Canine Colorado by Cindy Hirschfeld

Cherry Creek State Park

Though known primarily for its reservoir, Cherry Creek State Park rates high among the canine set because of the 60-acre off-leash dog area at the southern end of the park. To reach this area, drive south on the main park road from the east entrance station and park in the lower parking lot for the 12 Mile House group picnic site. You'll need to keep your dog leashed for about the first 500 yards, until you pass the dog-area boundary sign.

You can also access the off-leash area by heading west on Orchard Avenue, off Parker Road, for about a half block to a small parking area (there's a self-service fee station). The dog area consists mainly of open grassland traversed by a wide gravel trail; water-loving hounds will seek out the small creek. There's plenty of room for your dog to get a good workout, play with a friend, or chase down a ball.

If he tires of the scenery, put your dog back on his leash and bring him to explore the rest of the park, which has about 12 miles of trails. The paved Cherry Creek Trail runs through the park from north to south; north of the dam and outside the park boundary, a portion connects to the Highline Canal Trail. A network of trails lies west of the Shop Creek trailhead, which is off the main park road south of the east entrance station—note that these trails can get very muddy in late winter and spring.

Another trail goes along the southern end of the reservoir, from the marina area east to the Shop Creek area. The park is still in the process of mapping out and improving the signage on its trails, so you and your dog should expect to do some exploring rather than following a set route. Dogs are not allowed at the reservoir's swim beach.

Chatfield State Park

Like Cherry Creek State Park, Chatfield is best known for its reservoir and the water recreation it provides, but dogs will be much more interested in the off-leash area set aside for them. Located in the northeast corner of the park, the dog training and exercise area (as it's officially known) encompasses 160 acres. There's even a pond—where several dogs were practicing their stick-in-the-water retrieval skills when we visited. To reach the site, turn left (north) at the intersection after going through the park entrance station. Follow the road up and around the top of the dam to the Stevens Grove picnic area, where parking is available. From there, a trail leads around the pond.

You and your dog can also head east on the trail (away from the pond), but Fido will have to leash up when crossing the marked dog-area boundary; you'll connect with the paved Centennial Trail, which runs along C-470. The dog training area also extends on the other side of the road from Stevens Grove, as well as from the picnic area, Cottonwood Grove; your dog can either follow some small social trails here or explore among the trees—just keep an eye out for the boundary markers. For the best meet-and-greet opportunities, however, the pond's the place.

© Article copyright Fulcrum Books. All rights reserved.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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