South Platte: Highway 76 Commerce City to Brighton
Length of Trip: 13 miles
Gradient: 0 ft/mile
Difficulty: Class I-I+ at 200+ CFS with one class III-IV
which can be portaged and three dam portages.
High Water Flows: May-July, boatable year-round.
Flow: Call Watertalk @ 831-7135, Division 1, Station
48 for current river levels at 7 miles below the take out.
Scenery: C+ There are many birds, cotton wood
trees, and other wildlife. There is a bike path that follows
the first part of this run. Manmade debri can be found in
and along the river. The views of the Rockies and the wildlife
help offset the debri and the bike path to make this an enjoyable
Put-In: North of Denver, take Hwy 76 East from I-25
to Exict 8, go left on 224 back to river and put in at the
Bike Path Parking on the Southwest side of the bridge after
you cross the river.
Take-Out: From the put-in, go East on Rt. 224 to join
highway 76, bare left to go north on highway 85 for 12.5 miles
to the Brighton exict. Go left on Rt. 52, for 1/2 mile to
Veterans Park. The park will be on your right just before
you cross the river.
Description: A wonderful run for people to veiw wildlife.
On just one run, you could see Snappers, Herons, Muskrat,
Hawks, Owls, Eagles, Beavers, Fox just to mention some of
the wildlife. This is a great Nature trip. I found this run
to be quite in many areas, with very little boater traffic.
When the bike path moves away from the river, you have woods,
fields, and personal houses/farms along the river. You start
the trip alongside a bike path. The run is a straight forward
class I-II run until you reach a boat chute. The boat chute
is by far the hardest runable water on this section. The rapid
is class II by definition, as all you do is paddle like crazy
down the middle of the chute. The problem comes in when the
holes slow you down and you start playing the holes, then
the rapid can become class IV in a hurry. The boat chute is
a series of holes about 10-15' apart, one after another. The
holes are large enough depending on water levels, to swamp
out a canoe, or stop and surf a kayak or raft for quite a
while. I might suggest the river left portage on the bike
path as the easiest route, but if you feel inclined, the boat
chute is runnable. I do not like man-made drops, as they have
a tendency to be made with concrete, which to me is like taking
coarse sandpaper to your skin if you happen to swim. The rest
of the run is class II, with three portages. The first dam
to portage is a lowhead dam with what appears to be private
property on both sides. What ever you do, please do not run
the dam. If you made it over the dam, the wood pilons at the
bottom would give you quite a bit of trouble. The next two
dams you should portage on the right. There are many river
hazards to be aware of besides the dams, including many strainers,
(giant cotton wood trees in the river) bridge abuttments,
fences along the shore and into the water, cement blocks on
the banks and into the water, pieces of steel, all with debri
piled up on them.
Even with all these hazards, this run is still a good run
for beginners, and especially nature lovers, you just need
to be a little careful. The portages of the dams prevent this
run from being a busy run, so the boater traffic is light,
and very young families may have some difficulty with the
portages, otherwise this is a great family run for 6 year
olds and up. The water is warm compared to other rivers in
Colorado, there are eddies to catch, small waves to surf,
and a meandering channel to find in the river bed. There are
sand beaches to enjoy and camping spots among the cotton woods.
There are small islands, and shoals to manuever around, with
lots of wildlife in and along the river.
Great for kayaks, canoes, rafts, duckies, sea kayaks, and
most any other boat that can be run down rivers.