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Trout fishing and inner-tubing near downtown Boulder.

As glacier-fed Boulder Creek courses through downtown Boulder, Colorado, it winds past parks and pathways. In summer its waters dance with inner-tubers and kayakers. Fly-fishermen just blocks from city offices-cast for rainbow trout. Things weren't always so pleasant. The idea of a string of creekside parks dates to 1910, when park designer Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son of the designer of New York's Central Park, created the Boulder Creek Plan and had the city buy the land. The parkway idea languished for lack of funds. The creek was dredged for gravel, channeled for flood control, had its banks broken down by cattle grazing, and served as an occasional sewer.

A $3.3-million restoration project finally got underway in 1983. With the help of public and private agencies, the city worked to improve the narrow creek, clean up its waters, and restore the natural habitat. It also opened or improved a series of eight pocket parks, linking them with a bike-hike path. And while it isn't on a scale with better-known river parkways in Sacramento, Denver, and Portland, this project offers the charm of a cold mountain stream in an urban setting.

Picnic spots, kayaks, and rainbow trout Today, 35 acres of parks and 4.8 miles of pathways run westward along the creek between Eben G. Fine Park (6th Street and Arapaboe Avenue) and 55th Street and Pearl Parkway. Plans call for extending the system up and down the canyon. Walkers and cyclists share wide paths between the parks; the few sections that aren't paved have a hard gravel surface. Cottonwoods and aspens provide shade, while lush willows line the banks. Wild grape, chokecherry, and locust trees crowd in as well.

Riparian habitat has been improved. You can fly-fish from the banks for rainbow trout (catch-and-release only, license required); the creek is stocked with fish up to 24 inches long. A new fish observatory affords a closeup look at underwater life; it's near the Clarion Harvest House Hotel, 28th Street and Arapahoe.

Kayakers and tubers can run the cleanedup creek early in the season, when water levels are highest; by August it's often too low for kayakers except when an upstream dam releases water (often in late afternoon look for kayakers waiting to catch "the wave"). Popular put-ins are at Eben G. Fine Park and at Scott Carpenter Park, 30th Street and Arapahoe.

Shady trees and picnic tables invite stopping at Central Park; shallow water makes this a good spot to bring children for wading. A block west, the city's sculpture park displays interesting contemporary works. A scent garden, in the Municipal Complex at Broadway and Arapahoe, features pungent herbs and sweet flowers. Nearby are the children's fishing ponds, stocked between Memorial Day and Labor Day with rainbow trout. Ages 6 through 12 can fish here and keep their catch (limit three per day); ponds are near Ninth Street and Canyon Boulevard,

Note that the path has no lights (it's intended for day-use only) and no drinking fountains. For a free map of the pathway, stop by the parks department, 1750 10th Street, between 8 and 5 weekdays. From Denver, take State 36 northwest to Boulder; turn left on Arapahoe and continue to Sixth Street and Eben G. Fine Park for the start of the parkway.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Colorado
Date:Jul 1, 1989
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