The History of the Trail System
On June 16, 1965 fourteen inches of rain fell in just over four hours sending a torrent of water down the South Platte River through the heart of Denver. The resulting flood was the most devastating natural disaster in Denver’s history. Homes, bridges, and businesses were destroyed and washed away. As the floodwaters began to recede, debris littered the South Platte River from city limit to city limit.
In 1974, Denver Mayor Bill McNichols appointed State Senator Joe Shoemaker as chairman of the Platte River Development Committee (PRDC). The Committee was charged with initiating the reclamation of the South Platte River. As the work along the South Platte began, it quickly became evident that funding from the city alone would not be sufficient for the ambitious reclamation goals of the PRDC.
In 1976, the PRDC evolved into The Greenway Foundation (TGF), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization focused on the solicitation and obtainment of public and private contributions with a mission to revitalize, restore, and reclaim the South Platte River as an environmental, recreational, cultural, scientific, and historical amenity for the city of Denver.
For over 40 years TGF has partnered with numerous public, private, and philanthropic organizations to collectively create over 100 miles of riverside trails, over 100 acres of riverside parks and natural areas, over 100,000 linear feet of water quality and recreational improvements with the River, and invest over $100 million in green improvements along the South Platte River and its tributaries in Metro Denver. This ongoing commitment to Denver’s greatest natural resource has resulted in over $10 billion of economic benefits to the areas adjacent to the River.
List of South Platte Parks
Trail & River Improvement Projects & Resources
- River Vision Master Plan - There have been major improvements in and along the South Platte River. Check out what's in store for the future of the River.
- Denver Parks & Recreation - Official DPR website & learn more about Denver's incredible park and trail systems.
- Parks Map - Google map specifically made for Denver's river parks.
- Bike Maps - If you want to know the ins and outs of all of Denver's bike paths, the best way to do it is get a map and start exploring. Get the Map (pdf)
- River Parks - Information about many of the parks that sit adjacent to Denver's urban waterways. Find a park that fits your needs, and explore the countless open spaces Denver's river corridor provides.
A Trash Free South Platte River:
Not only is trash unsightly in our waterways, it poses a health risk to humans, animals, and plants. The Water Connection (TWC) is tackling this issues in a variety of ways:
- Storm Drain Filtration devices that catch trash and debris as it is washed off the street into a storm drain. These devices collect trash that otherwise would flow to our creeks and rivers.
- A half-scale prototype of an in-stream trash removal device, nick-named the Nautilus, is currently being tested in the Cherry Creek! The purpose of this device is to collect trash that has made it's way into the creek and to create awareness about this issue.
- The Clean River Design Challenge tasks college-level students to create a way to keep our rivers and streams cleaner!
South Platte From Start to Finish
Ever wondered where the South Platte River goes after flowing through Denver? Check out the map below to see how the Platte's water finds its way to the Mississippi River and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. (Click here to view a larger version).
View South Platte River From Start to Finish in a larger map