The High Line Canal

Residents of University Hills are familiar with the High Line Canal, which runs through Mamie Eisenhower Park. They may not know that according to “High Line Canal” (, it “runs 66 miles east-northeast through Douglas, Arapahoe, and Denver counties.”  According to “Highline Canal Trail Map” (, it was built in the late nineteenth century “to bring South Platte water to settlers and farmers” in the Denver area.

Today the canal is still used for irrigation, but it is also a recreational asset. Many people enjoy walking on the trails next to it. My wife and I used to love to walk through Eisenhower Park and watch for wildlife. We especially enjoyed watching for ducks, which only appear when there are a few feet of water. One time we saw a mother duck with at least seven little ducklings swimming behind her. We also used to see cotton-tailed rabbits and reddish brown foxes with big bushy tails, but the foxes were apparently driven away by the coyotes, and we never see them anymore.

The Denver Water Board and several local government organizations, including Denver Parks and Recreation, manage the canal. According to the High Line Canal Preservation Association, whose mission is to protect the canal, these organizations release only a limited amount of water into it each year and some officials want to fill it in completely to conserve water. Without at least some water in the canal, it is uncertain if the cottonwood trees and the other vegetation alongside it would survive.

The canal greatly enhances the park and the other areas it runs through, and I hope it can be preserved.

David Mindock

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