The Denver area park system ranks among the top quartile when considering the 40 biggest cities in the U.S., and Cherry Creek State Park is a fine example of the diversity of activities that can be found in Denver’s city parks. The park sprawls over more than 5 square miles near the Denver Tech Center at the junction of I-280 and I-25, making it one of the largest in the Denver area. At its heart is the 880-acre Cherry Creek Reservoir.
Activities at Cherry Creek State Park are diverse, marked by the usual camping, hiking, biking, and paddling. Certain offerings, however, are entirely unique to the park. The Family Shooting Center offers an outdoor shooting range that is open to the public. It offers pistol shooting and rifle shooting at 50 and 100 yards, a shotgun range with traps, and an archery range. Suhaka Field is a miniature airfield dedicated to hobbyist pilots of model airplanes. It has two miniature, paved runways, taxiways and a flying field for rotorcraft, and a miniature windsock.
The Cherry Creek Reservoir is well developed, boasting several day use areas, including Dixon Grove, East Shades, and West Shades. Each has a covered picnic pavilion, including Hobie Hill, a pavilion of arched roofs marked with maritime accents and leafy foliage. The swim beach on Cherry Creek Reservoir’s western shore is broad and picturesque, its white sand beach enclosed, in part, by shady trees. The marina at Cherry Creek Reservoir offers boat rentals, and the reservoir is popular with boaters and paddlers.
The trail network at Cherry Creek State Park is extensive, including 12 Mile Trail, which clocks in at a counterintuitive 2.8 miles, though the trails here can be mixed and matched to produce a desired mileage. Particularly scenic are the wetlands along the south bank of Cherry Creek Reservoir, a wilderness oasis in the middle of Denver. Front Range views are abundant where the trees allow, and an off-leash dog area offers a grassy meadow borne of the canine afterlife: long, dense grasses, thistle, and limited access by permit only, meaning only the most upstanding breeds get to play.
Dotted with small ponds, latticed with trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, and featuring a reservoir fit for motorized and non-motorized boating alike, Cherry Creek Park is one of the best places in city limits to recreate.