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Outside: Going down the greenway

Family friendly outside adventures await in the 8 miles of trails along the St. Vrain Greenway.
Dickens Farm Tubing (1 of 16)
Dickens Farm Nature Area bride over St. Vrain Creek (Photo by Matt Maenpaa)

Living in Colorado, a plethora of outdoor adventures await those that are willing, and living in Longmont means not having to travel far to appreciate the natural splendor of the Front Range. In fact, the network of paved trails that threads itself from one end of the city to the other can provide countless opportunities for area residents to walk, run, bike, fish and float toward sun-soaked relaxation.

The St. Vrain Greenway stretches roughly 8 miles through Longmont, following the St. Vrain Creek west to east. It connects the city to parks, and wildlife protection and commercial areas, creating access to pathways free of motorized vehicles (excepting the odd Parks, Open Space and Trails  or Forestry vehicles). A vibrant ecosystem thrives along the greenway, which is home to dozens of species of birds, insects and other critters. 

Extensive damage was done to the area during the 2013 floods, but funds already allocated to renewal and improvement projects along the Greenway were used to make repairs and improvements to the public areas. At the time of writing, only one section of the St. Vrain Greenway was closed, near the entrance at Boston Avenue, east of Sunset Street and running the length of trail near South Pratt Parkway.


Golden Ponds (3 of 11)Golden Ponds 2651 3rd Ave. (Photo by Matt Maenpaa)

Dozens of opportunities await, starting at the western end of the trail. Golden Ponds has gravel trails that wrap around a series of ponds. Fenced piers provide safe access to fishing, with strategically placed benches and picnic shelters scattered around to soak up the sunshine and watch the birds. Blue herons hunt for frogs and fish in the waterways, while pelicans float in the pond and birds of prey soar overhead.


Pelican SquaredPelicans in St. Vrain Creek (Photo by Matt Maenpaa)


Following the trail to the east gives access to Roger’s Grove Nature Area, the Boulder County Fairgrounds and Isaak Walton Park. The lazy bends of the St. Vrain Creek through this stretch can provide great opportunities for swimming and tubing where the water isn’t so deep that kids can stand on their own. Parental supervision is highly recommended, as even the slowest currents in a river can be dangerous to small children.

Longmont resident Drew Jensen loves the access to nature found in the city. 

“We’ll usually bike over to the Greenway for family cycling, but we also go walking as a family, go tubing or play in the water earlier in the summer, and we’ll use it as an access trail for going fishing in the St. Vrain or Golden Ponds,” he said. “Our boys like riding out to the airport for breakfast and plane watching.”


Dickens Farm Tubing (6 of 16)Tubing at Dickens Farm Nature Area Boston Ave (Photo by Matt Maenpaa)

East of Main Street, the Dickens Farm Nature Area offers a host of activities, making for a great day all on it’s own. Nature discovery trails and a playground area are great for kids, and when they are ready to cool down, there’s a designated float course for tubes, kayaks and more. Use of the area does require participants to provide their own flotation devices or sun shelters, with some local companies like Whitewater Tube offering equipment rentals and even deliveries.


Sandstone Ranch (2 of 6)Sandstone Ranch 3001 CO-119 (Photo by Matt Maenpaa)

Finally, the eastern end of the St. Vrain Greenway is home to Sandstone Ranch, a 313-acre public area featuring multiple sports and athletics fields, playgrounds, seasonal splash pads, a skate park and numerous picnic areas. The Visitor’s Center, set against the remarkable sandstone bluff the park takes its name from, hosts educational classes about the history and ecology of the area. Historical buildings from the original Coffin family homestead dating back to the late 19th century serve as a beautiful reminder of how the land has supported settlers in the region for centuries. 

With hot summer days still ahead and restrictions in place for large gatherings, the St. Vrain Greenway is a great place to take the family for fresh air and adventures close to home. Social distancing is still expected within Longmont’s park system, and the state and county face covering mandates are still in effect. A full map of the trail system, as well as plans for renovations and closures, are available on the city’s website.