Denver Hikes for New Visitors

Denver Hikes for Visitors

*note: A version of this article first appeared as a Guest Post at www.ottsworld.com.

New to Denver or just visiting?

Does hiking in 10,000 feet of elevation worry you? What about just 5280 feet, like Denver's Mile High?

A little freaked out about the altitude and all of the suggestions to go up in the mountains to hike? Want to get outside on a local hike first that’s a bit more practical for first-time visitors to Denver?

We get it. Adjusting to the Denver altitude is no joke, especially if you're visiting from Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago or New York. Sea level may be fun for water sports and beach breaks, but when coming to the mile-high city from sea level, it can be a bit of a challenge.

Be like locals. Carry water. Everywhere.

You’ll want to take it easy for the first few days. Drink lots of water and gets lots of sleep. Be sure to carry a water bottle with you and guzzle it as often as you can stand. As for hiking, you’ll need to follow similar advice.

Acclimating to Denver Hiking

The best way to enjoy higher altitude hiking up in Conifer, Vail or Rocky Mountain National Park is to start acclimating in Denver first. Locals will tell you there are some great hikes right here in Denver to get you started.

We give you three.

One in a park, one on a trail, and one in a neighborhood.

You pick the adventure you want, or all three! Walking these three urban hikes will help you adjust to altitude at 5280 feet and get you ready for the higher stuff up in the front range (which includes Golden, Boulder, Breckenridge and beyond.

Hiking in Denver’s City Park

If you've warmed up your legs in Union Station Neighborhood in LoDo (in the hike below), head on over to Denver's largest park, City Park. This giant park, filled with a zoo and a nature & science museum, enjoys a lake for paddle boating, fishing, and SUP'ing, tennis courts, rose gardens, historic monuments, and outdoor sculpture.

But its best feature is the flat 5280 trail that meanders on soft and hard surfaces through the park for a good 5K, or 3.1 miles. You can hop on the path and make a giant loop through the park, enjoying the oaks, pines, elms, and maples while watching kids play, locals fish, and teens talk.  Some of Denver’s best monuments are in the park; be sure to take a pensive moment at the Martin Luther King, Jr monument and then giggle some at the Six Legs statue. After you’ve enjoyed the loop, rent a paddle boat to peddle out to the pelican rookery or drop into the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The 5280 trail is easy to find. Park at the Martin Luther King Jr statue in City Park. The trail circles the west side of the monument. Catch it going south around Ferril Lake and stay on the marked trail throughout the park.

Hiking Denver’s Historic Trails

Had your fill of people and buildings and just want to get on a trail? The city of Denver is loaded with them. Four main trails circle the city, including the Platte River Trail, the Sand Creek Greenway, the Cherry Creek Trail and the granddaddy of them all, High Line Canal Trail (a whopping 71-miler!) We love all of our trails for so many reasons from having wilderness in the city to an urban meander through the treasures of metro Denver. And what’s great? You can hike them year round.

If you walked the Union Station Neighborhood adventure below, you've stepped on to the Platte River Trail and the Cherry Creek Trail already. If you're really ambitious, you can loop all the trails together and do the 42-mile, 9 Creeks Loop.

But if you've only got an afternoon, we recommend several segments of the High Line Canal in the Fall. You'll like segments 6, 7, 8. These flat segments on soft surface range from 6-8 miles and will bring you through towering cottonwoods, along historic preserves, and next to amazing front range views. Yes, these hikes are one-way, but feel free to do them as round-trips, doubling your mileage, or call a Lyft and meet a local to get back to your trailhead.

Hiking Denver’s Union Station Neighborhood

One of Denver's most fun neighborhoods to walk through which will keep you distracted from your higher-altitude symptoms like thirst, shortness of breath and fatigue is right in the center of town. If you took the A Train from Denver International Airport to downtown, you've already been there.

We're talking Union Station Neighborhood! This fun area that the locals sometimes refer to as "LoDo" (lower Denver) will have you walking on sidewalks and paved trails through history, by art, and along the river. What could be more fun? Plus, if you get tired, there are plenty of places to grab a drink or a bite as you settle into your higher-altitude rhythms (see Sherry Ott’s review of Tupelo Honey for one of these great places to eat in Denver.) See below for the exact turn-by-turn directions you'll follow to walk Union Station Neighborhood.

Acclimate in Denver First

No matter where you hike around Denver, starting inside the Denver city limits is a great way to start acclimating to Denver’s 5280 feet of altitude. Once you feel like you’re not losing your breath every time you move, you might be ready to tackle higher hikes like Three Sisters, Carpenter’s Peak, or even North Table Mountain. For more hikes in and around Denver that will help you adjust, check out these great books about hiking in Denver,  Best Urban Hikes: Denver and Walking Denver’s Neighborhoods . Have fun, enjoy, and breathe!

Turn-by-turn Directions for Union Station Neighborhood (and map!)

Turn-by-turn Directions: Start inside Union Station at 1701 Wynkoop St. Tour the station, making sure you go upstairs to the lounge and look east up 17th St. Admire the chandeliers from the second floor, go to the basement and see the old bathrooms, and generally just explore the station.

When you’re ready, exit the rear of the station, go to the right, and take the left up the stairs over the train tracks. Exit the stairs onto 18th St, heading westerly and crossing Wewatta and Chestnut.

Take the second set of stairs over the freight rail tracks, exiting onto 18th and crossing Bassett. At Little Raven, take a left.

Walk through the park toward the south, following the trails and enjoying the Platte River. Work your way back toward Little Raven to use the pedestrian bridge, also known as Millennial Bridge. Play in the large red reed sculpture at the foot of the steps, then go up the steps, crossing back over the tracks and down to 16th Street.

Take a right on  Chestnut Pl and then a right on Delgany. Cross 15th St and pass the Museum of Contemporary Art and its Toxic Schizophrenia piece. Right before Cherry Creek take a left, walking easterly above the Creek.

Continue along the Creek, taking the ramp down to the Creek. At Larimer, take the ramp back up to 15th Street, and continue on Larimer toward 16th St.

Walk through historic Larimer Square. There are various plaques on the buildings telling historical moments that you may enjoy. Continue on Larimer to 16th St, take a left.

Walk along 16th St to Blake St and take a right. Take a left on 17th, enjoying the views of Union Station. You’ll pass the Oxford Hotel. If you’re in the mood, visit the lobby of the Oxford to enjoy their fabulous western art collection, and peek into the Cruise room to see their Art Deco wall sconces.

Leave the Oxford, walking down the alley between Wynkoop and Wazee toward 20th. At 20th, approach the entry to the Ballfield to find the Evolution of the Ball sculpture (this area is temporarily under construction and the sculpture may not be accessible.). Once you’ve enjoyed the artwork, turn toward Wynkoop.

Walk along Wynkoop, passing the original Union Station on the right and Wynkoop Brewery, founded by Governor Hickenlooper before he was Governor, on your left. Return back to Union Station where you started. Get a delicious Beet Burger at Next Door!

~See you on the trail,

Chris

 

Chris Englert, the Walking Traveler and Denver's Urban Hiker, believes walking is the platform for life. Volunteered into wanderlusting at age 5, she's since traveled all 50 US states and 52 countries. Chris shares her love of walking while traveling via blogs, books, and presentations. A natural storyteller, she invites you along as she explores the world, one walk at a time. Follow Chris' urban hikes in Denver at @DenverByFoot at her blog at www.DenverByFoot.com. Follow Chris' world travel and her 50 Hikes 50 States Project at @EatWalkLearn, at her blog at www.EatWalkLearn.com. Watch Chris on YouTube.

Find more hiking recommendations in Chris' books, Best Urban Hikes: Denver and Walking Denver's Neighborhoods on Amazon. And take her Denver By Foot Challenge! 30 Challenges to discover or rediscover Denver. Click here for more details.


The Walk Your Kid to School 1-mile Radius Challenge

The Walk Your Kid to School 1-mile Radius Challenge

With school starting and the temperatures in Denver pleasant, why not do two things to start the school year as we all head back to school? And with National Walk to School Day just around the corner, it's the perfect time to give a walk to school a try! Your kids are ready! Are you?

First, walk your kids or grandkids to school. Imagine the conversations you could have if you had a few minutes with your kids that were uninterrupted by cell phones, video games, toys, or other distractions. What might your kid say to you that can't be said at the dinner table or from the back seat of your car?

Second, take the 1-mile radius challenge. You'll get the chance to see your neighborhood from your kids' point of view. Maybe you'll discover a new favorite place, or perhaps your kid will share her secret go-to place that she thinks she only knows about?

Wake Up and Walk

Wouldn't it feel great to get a few steps in with your kid before school started? It doesn't take that long to walk. There are many research studies that show that walking your kid to school is not only quicker than driving, but it improves your relationship, reduces pollution around the school, and creates a better sense of community.

Set that alarm just a few minutes earlier, and you can probably find the time you need to walk your kid to school. Shoot, it might even be faster than driving to the kiss n go lane, waiting in line to drop, dropping, and driving away. Plus, your kids will start to learn the ritual of a morning walk. It's the morning quiet among the chaos that just might settle them into a better day with better attention.

Or, if you can't afford the extra few minutes to walk your kid, how about at least parking a few blocks away and walking with your child the last few blocks rather than idling in the kiss n go lane? Even a few blocks are worthwhile. Plus, you'll be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

Need some evidence that walking your kid to school is good for you and your kid?

Read 5 Reasons to Walk Your Kid to School. The first reason is reason enough!

Wondering if your kid is old enough to walk alone?

Read Walking and Biking to School. You'll be surprised at how ready they are and at how young!

How should your kid walk to school?

Get a buddy and read Should Your Child Walk to School? Maybe you will find your own buddy as your kid finds hers!

Is the route safe to school?

Read Safe Routes to School. Sadly, not all routes are safe, but there are great resources available to make your school route safer.

Got anxious kids?

Read Anxious Kids? Let Them Walk to School. Oh, the science!

Take the 1-mile Radius Challenge

Walking to school benefits you, your family, and your community. It reduces pollution around schools, opens up the neighborhood, and increases overall happiness for everyone. Granted, you may have to put on an extra layer of clothes, find a lost glove, or tie a different shoelace, but wouldn't you have to do that anyway sometime in the day?

So once you've tackled the challenge of walking to school, try doing it on Mondays and Fridays. Then add in Wednesday. And soon enough, you'll be walking to school five days a week. Perhaps you'll even find the time to start walking your kids home from school, too. Could you actually achieve the impossible? Walk to and fro every day of the week?

Finally, if you've gotten the itch to walk to school, there are other locations within a mile or two of your house where you can also walk. Expand your walking world beyond the few blocks to school and take the 1-mile radius walking challenge (click for instructions.)

In the 1-mile walking challenge, you turn your neighborhood into your own urban hiking jungle. Within that jungle, you might find steps, bridges, streams, highways, streets, and sidewalks. Along the way is your mailbox. Next to that might be a post office.

Or a grocery store. Dentist. Doctor. Friend. Family. Vet.

Perhaps you might even find a new favorite spot on top of a hill or next to a creek where you can take a deep breath and relax from your day? Would having just five minutes of me time change your attitude for your next meeting or business call?

Crazier yet, perhaps you take on the 1-mile challenge on the walk to get your kids from school? Or maybe you get them and together, you take the challenge with them. Is the ice cream store within a mile? the tutor? the after-school activity?

So, for this fall, as the weather turns and we all get back into our regular schedules, how about we all take the time to change one habit or one behavior? Let's pick walking more as the one change that benefits everyone. You'll get some exercise, your kids will get some quality time with you, the community will open up and you'll see and hear things you miss in the car, and traffic and pollution will reduce near your kids' school. After all, isn't that how we're all trying to improve the world in our own little ways? One person, one hug, one wave at a time?

I hope you'll discover your neighborhood by foot, and perhaps you'll post some great shots of you walking with your kids to or/and from school. Or perhaps you'll post a few shots of you enjoying the 1-mile challenge, in a zen pose, in your favorite secret hide-a-way in your neighborhood. If you do, please be sure to tag #denverbyfoot so I can see them!

Discover your neighborhood by foot.

Let me know how it goes!

~Chris


 


5 Shady Walks IN Denver

5 Shady Walks in Denver

*note: You can now download an interactive version of this walk at https://www.gpsmycity.com/gps-tour-guides/denver-568.html

Hi everyone. I want to first start out by saying that this article is about Denver. Not Boulder. Not Colorado Springs. Not the Front Range.

I'm a bit of a stickler for Denver. When I mean IN Denver, I mean IN Denver.

The City and County of Denver (including the Denver Mountain Parks.) So when I search and find other people's recommendations for hikes in Denver and they take me to Three Sisters, I get a bit annoyed.

Sorry for the rant.

Hiking in Denver

I will also admit that "hiking in Denver" is more like walking or urban hiking. Since Denver is flat and most of the trails are concrete, people might argue that there is no hiking in Denver.

Tomato. ToMAto.
Point taken.

And, I will also admit that finding SHADE in Denver (without being in a park) is also a big challenge. We are, by the way, in the high prairie, and forests don't come naturally here in the high plains. Thus, the best place to find shady places to walk in Denver would be the parks (Cheesman ((see video)), City Park, Wash Park and Civic Park are great ones), but if you actually want to get some distance and feel like you're hiking in Denver in the shade, you'll need to be a bit creative.

So with apologies to people who might to be as much as a stickler for IN Denver as I am, here are my 5 recommendations for where to hike in Denver in the shade.

5 Shady Denver Hikes

1. Hike from Cheesman Park to Washington Park (3 miles).

This is a fantastic walk through two landmark parks in Denver, Cheesman and Wash Parks. Start in Cheesman and explore the Cheesman Memorial and the bronze outline of our Front Range. Then walk south out of the park through the lush and rich Country Club Park. You'll pass by giant homes of the Who's Who in Denver. Due to the Country Club Golf Course's limited access, you'll have to route around it via University. Grin and bear it for a 1/4 mile, then you'll be back into the Country Club/North Wash Park neighborhoods as you approach Wash Park. Once you get to Wash Park, you can enjoy a 6-mile loop, stopping by its gardens, lakes, art, and sculpture. I share this walk with visiting family during Thanksgiving.

Turn-by-turn directions. To get in six miles, walk back to Cheesman or if you want to keep the walk shorter at 3 miles, take a Lyft (get $10 towards your first ride). I recommend starting in Cheeseman, exit the park via its southern end onto Williams St. Continue through Country Club to E 3rd Ave. Take a right to S Downing St. to a left on W Bayoud St. Take a right S Lafayette St to Wash Park. (click for interactive map)

What to Wear: A Skirt Sport Skort, my favorite skort to walk in.

2. Lakewood/Dry Gulch Lollipop Loop. (2-3.5 miles)

This hike is a fabulous hike through linear parks and along gulches. You'll be on paved trail most of the way except for a few streets at the end to complete the loop. Shady, with big cottonwood trees, there are plenty of places to just chill along the creek as well. For a 2-mile loop, take the W light rail to the Knox St Station and follow the loop instructions below. For a 3.5-mile loop, take the W light rail (or park) at the Federal/Decatur Station. Walk west to the Platte River, then turn around back to the station and follow the loop instructions below.

Turn-by-turn directions. If you've started at Federal and walked to the Platte, turn around and walk west. Or, if you have started at Knox station, walk west. (If you have some extra energy, be sure to stop at the mic structure in Paco Park (see video) for some good play time.) Walk west along the Lakewood Dry Gulch Trail. You'll come to a fork in the trail, head left (southerly) on the Lakewood Gulch Trail through Joseph P Martinez Park (see video). The trail will end at Tennyson Street.

Walk north up Tennyson Street for two blocks, crossing W 10th Ave. Keep going, and you'll reenter the green space. Continue north to the Lakewood Dry Gulch Trail, turn right (east). Stay on the concrete path until you arrive back to the Knox Station or the Federal Station.

What Shoes to Wear: A Pair of Closed-toe Chacos, my favorite summer shoe.

3. The Bible Park Loop (3.5 miles)

This 3.5-mile loop takes advantage of a great loop around James A Bible Park. The High Line Canal Trail makes a wonderful horseshoe turn around Denver's gem, providing a ring of cottonwood trees. Look for owl and hawk nests in the canopy. A special treat here is that even though there may not be water from Denver Water running through the canal, you'll often find water in it due to other sources. The Goldsmith Gulch runs through the park as well, providing nooks and crannies to relax in the shade or to hunt for tadpoles!

Turn-by-turn directions. Park in Bible Park (see video.) From the parking lot, head east to the perimeter in the park and jump on the High Line Canal Trail. Walk in a southerly direction. The trail will make a sharp horseshoe turn, leading you to the north. Cross E Yale and then Monaco Pkwy. Continue Northwesterly to Iliff Ave. At Iliff, leave the High Line and take the sidewalk to the east (right) until you cross Monaco Pkwy again. Iliff will T with S Oneida St. Continue straight onto the small neighborhood bike path back to the High Line Canal trail. Take a right on the High Line Trail, taking it south over E Yale Ave again, back to where you parked in Bible Park.

What Hat to Wear: A Wallaroo, my favorite pony-tail hat!

4. First Creek at DEN Trail (4 miles)

I can't write about this unknown trail enough (see video of First Creek at DEN.) It is new; it opened just a couple of years ago, and it's such a treasure. If you're on the way to/from the airport, it's a perfect way to unwind any anxious thoughts about traveling. Although the first 1/3 mile is on the abandoned Old Buckley Road next to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, the down-n-back along a concrete path next to the First Creek is a refreshing, shady oasis under a cottonwood canopy. The best time to do this hike is sunrise or sunset. You'll catch many birds of prey, the alpen glow in the morning, or a Rockies sunset in the evening. I absolutely love this trail.

Turn-by-turn directions. Park at the intersection of 56th Ave and Pena Blvd. Walk north on the abandoned Old Buckley Road about 1/3 mile to the trailhead on the right (if you go a bit more, you'll find another trailhead on the left into the Wildlife Refuge. But this isn't shady.) Go to the right on the concrete path. Walk 2 miles. The trail ends just past the underpass for the A Train. Turn around and retrace your steps. Be sure to bring water and snacks!

How to Carry Water: In my favorite water bottle holder for short hikes.

 

 

5. The Platte River Downtown Loop. (3-4 Miles)

Another hike I can never get enough of is what I call the Platte River Loop. With plenty of activity to keep you entertained along the way, if you stay on the east side of the River, there is generally a good amount of shade to protect you on hot days. Combined with enjoying the fun Union Station and Confluence (see video) areas of downtown, I take visitors on this hike often. Afterward, we will grab a bit or at least an ice cream in Union Station.

Turn-by-turn directions. Start at Union Station by taking transit into town. Exit Union Station on Wynkoop heading toward 16th St. Stay on Wynkoop until you get to the Cherry Creek Trail, which you'll access with the ramp. On Cherry Creek, turn right (west) toward the confluence with the Platte River. Walk the bend around the confluence, connecting with the Platte River Trail.  Pay attention to bikes and stay to the right of the trail. You'll pass through Commons Park (see video.) Stay on the Platte River as long as you'd like. I like to go at least to Denver Skate Park (see video.)

At the Skate Park, exit the trail, then make your way back toward downtown within Commons Park on the concrete path. Enjoy the many pieces of public sculpture and historic interpretation. You'll eventually reach the 16th Street pedestrian bridge, a large, white, suspension bridge. Take the stairs up and over the railroad tracks, dropping you down onto Wewatta Street. Take a left and return back to the Union Station transit area.

Finding Shaded Hikes in Denver

I admit. Finding shaded hikes IN Denver isn't easy. But here are five. What would you recommend? Got any secret, shady spots for a good hike IN the City and County of Denver? Fess up. Tag them #denverbyfoot so I can see. I'll share and repost! Thanks!

See you on the trail,

~Chris



Best Denver Hike for Summer Solstice

Best Denver Hike for Summer Solstice

With the summer solstice coming up to denote the longest day of the year, you can't miss a great hike in Denver to celebrate. There's one place like no other that will offer up fantastic front range views, an incredible sunset, birds galore, deer and their fawn, barking prairie dogs and blooming wildflowers.

Head out to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. "The Arsenal" as Denver natives call it, or "the Wildlife Refuge" as newcomers call it, boasts all sorts of trails. From hikes around lakes to short hikes around the Visitor's Center, there are plenty of options to spend the day, an hour, or half a day in the Refuge. You can even stop by the Arsenal on the way to the airport to catch your flight (don't forget to see the bison!) But there's one trail that's exceptionally spectacular at any time of the year, but especially for the summer solstice.

The Bluestem Loop Trail

The Bluestem Loop Trail, a 1.5-mile loop, overlooks the wetlands, the mountains, and the prairie. You can have vast front range views that capture from Longs Peak to Pikes Peak. You might even spot Mt Evans. But also from here, you can enjoy the longest day of the year. All the wild flowers are in bloom. Butterflies flutter from bluestem to curly dock. The wetland captures dragonflies, while the uploads hide deer, foxes, and coyotes. Prairie dogs might shuttle from hole to hole. You can see an entire ecosystem busy taking in the bounty of summer, anticipating fall just a short time away.

And chances are, you'll only drive 20 minutes to get there (if you live in Denver.) The beauty about the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge is that it's nearby. If you live in Denver, Commerce City, Aurora, or maybe even Arvada, you can get there in 20 minutes or less. On the way to Denver International Airport? It's just a quick stop north of 56th Ave, just west of Pena Blvd.

On the Trail

On the trail, you'll find various interpretative signs about Blue Goose, Sedges, Wetlands and the High Line Canal. Thigh-high grasses blow in the wind. Brilliant burgundy and violet thistles dot the prairie, you'll hear meadowlarks singing, and you'll see Swainson hawks soaring. A herd of eight white-tailed deer and their two babies keep watch. Bull snakes slither. Bison bake in the sun just to the north.

Take your time, and you'll see even more wildlife watching you. Perhaps you'll catch a burrowing owl next to a prairie dog hole? Damselflies and bubble bees dart and bumble their way across flowering pinks and purples. As the sun sets, the dazzling hour dusks upon seed heads and pine cones.

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. 15,000 acres buffer Denver from the airport.

It's the perfect place to catch a sunset for the longest day of the year.

It's the perfect place to bring your kids.

It's the perfect place to find some contemplative time.

Whether you're in the Refuge to hike, fish, walk, or sit, it's a welcoming place for all folks to find free time for free. You can also take the 14-mile drive through the Refuge and see the giant herd of American bison roaming freely in the prairie. (Remember, they're wild! Don't get out of your car, and take pics from a distance!)

Directions to Trailhead

Getting to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge is fairly easy. You can point your GPS to 6550 Gateway Rd, Commerce City, CO, which will take you to the Visitors Center. The Visitors Center chronicles the history of the Refuge from its homesteading years through World War II, the building of weapons, petro-bombs, and pesticides, and finally to its restoration as a wildlife refuge. It also includes a life-size bison. You can even touch real bison fur! There are restrooms, a cute little gift shop that supports the Friends of the Wildlife Refuges organization, and a hands-on interpretative room where kids can dress up in little house on the prairie clothes!

To get to the actual Bluestem Trailhead, here are the directions.

Take I70 to Central Park Blvd. Go north. Central Park Blvd turns into Prairie Parkway and goes north of Dick's Sports Park. Take a right on Gateway Blvd. Enter the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. Take a right on Wildlife Drive. Continue for about a mile. Cross Havana St. Derby Lake will be on your left. Continue about a 1/2 mile. The road turns to dirt. Take it to the end. Park. The trailhead is on the south side of the parking lot. The coordinates are 39°48'45.9"N 104°49'17.9"W. There is no address for the trailhead. But most GPS and mapping apps will allow you to type in the coordinates above just as if you were typing an address.

Directions for Hiking the Trail

The Bluestem Loop Trail loops from the trailhead. You can go left or right. If you go left, you'll reach the bench mentioned above in about 1/3 mile. Go right, and you can follow the several loops (just keep going right) until the trail loops back to the left. You'll find the bench about 1/4 mile past the High Line Canal sign as you are working your way back north. The entire loop is just about 1.5 miles if you take all the little detours. Parts of the trail to the left are on elevated boardwalk; the remainder is soft surface. We saw wheelchair tracks on the entire loop.

During the summer, it can be quiet warm on the trail, and there is little to no shade. Be sure to wear a hat, sunscreen, and perhaps even long sleeves to protect from the beating heat. There is also no water, either, on the trail. Make sure you have enough water for you and your kids if they're tagging along. And, no, your dog is not allowed in the park.

If you go and hike the Bluestem Loop Trail, post a picture and tag it with #denverbyfoot. I love seeing your pictures!

See you on the trail,
~Chris

PS For another great hike in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildife Refuge, read this article.


3 Great Denver Hikes for Music Lovers

Three Great Denver Walks for Music Lovers

Denver draws some of the best musicians in the industry. It's been happening for almost a hundred years. From the first performance of Ave Maria at Red Rocks to the giant Garth Brooks show at Mile High Stadium, Denver attracts musicians and music lovers alike.

Yet even though Denver brings musicians here, it has also provided the background for great musicians to rise out of its neighborhoods and onto the stage.

Take the neighborhoods of Whittier, Five Points and Baker. Home to music halls and dance beats, these neighborhoods have held musical court long before Mile High Stadium and the Pepsi Center played tunes. There's even a great park honoring some of the jazz roots that the African American community brought to Denver. No, it's not Red Rocks. It's Morrison Park in Whittier (see video).

If you love music, if you're a musician, or even if you can't tuna fish...here are three great urban hikes in Denver that musicians and music lovers will like.

Whittier Neighborhood

In the Whittier neighborhood, you'll find the George C Morrison Park. It's a linear park along Martin Luther King, Jr, Blvd which connects you to other wonderful parks that feature portions of Denver's African-American history. Along with a chain of three other parks dedicated to African-American history in Denver, you'll find a sweet retreat into the music scene.

Violinist and musician, George Morison, Sr, impacted the jazz scene in Five Points while living in Whittier. He grew up in Boulder, graduated from the Columbia Conservatory of Music in Chicago, and performed with  Cuthbert Byrd, Desdamona and Leo Davis, Hattie McDaniel, Eugene Montgomery, Theodore Morris, Jimmy Lunceford, and Andy Kirk.

Morrison also gave back to the community through free music lessons to the kids at Whittier Elementary, Cole Junior High, and Manual High Schools. When walking in the neighborhood, you might want to pass by where he lived at 2558 Gilpin Street.  This home became a gathering spot for many famous musicians, including Count Bassie, Jelly Roll Morton, Nat King Cole and other celebrated musicians.

If you've worked up an appetite walking through Whittier, stop in at the Whittier Cafe and get a Denver Egg Burger. Who know Denver had a Denver Egg Burger?

Whittier Walking Map (click for interaction)

From Whittier, head over to Five Points.

Five Points

five points urban hiking denver eatwalklearn

Five Points is a giant neighborhood that includes Curtis Park, Ballpark and RiNo, which aren't "technically" neighborhoods according to the City of Denver. But for a music lover, the center of Five Points is the place to uncover. You'll find all kinds of music history here, along with fabulous art that pays tribute to the musical history of Denver.

At the Five Points intersection, where you can catch the light rail going downtown, the beat of the neighborhood is itching to drum again. The Rossonian, once the heartbeat of Five Points and filled with be-bopping jazz and energetic sounds that attracted some of the best jazz musicians of the '20-60's, sits across from a wonderful mural telling Five Points' story and the musical impact the "Harlem of the West" made on the industry.

The City of Denver has had love-hate relationship with Five Points, that, over time, has morphed it into an interesting eclectic set of homes filled with the rich and the poor living right next to each other. On one street you'll find Neal Cassady's father's barber shop across the street from what was once the Snowden, his boyhood home, that has been replaced by million-dollar town homes. Across from it you'll find a refuge for homeless women which is diagonal from an actors' studio. You can also read many excerpts about the music scene and the area from Denver lover, Jack Kerouac's, On the Road, or native son, Neal Cassady's, First Third.

Sandwiched on blocks full of residences, you'll find fabulous places to eat. The Curtis Park Deli has the best smoked trout sandwich I've ever eaten, and around the corner is the restored Curtis Park Creamery, a long-standing, dine-out only, Mexican cafe serving up the neighborhood's best tamales. I loved the green chile.

Five Points Walking Map (click for interaction)

After Five Points, head to Red Rocks.

Red Rocks

Set between the famous Ship Rock and Creation Rock, the Red Rocks Amphitheater has welcomed stair-climbing, live-performance music lovers to its 6,450 feet of elevation since 1941. Infamous performances include the Beatles, U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Harry Belafonte, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, the Eagles, Santana, Willie Nelson, Journey, Grateful Dead, Tears for Fears, Kiss, Bon Jovi, Sting, Stevie Nicks, B. B. King, Nora Jones, Duran Duran, and DeVotchKa, among others.

Of course, you can climb the amphitheater or hike the 1.5-mile loop through the seven rock formations, and you can visit two stop-worthy music showcases in the park. The first is the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in the Trading Post, which tells musical performance history with an emphasis on John Denver. Or, you can climb to the top of the amphitheater and enjoy the Red Rocks Visitor Center which houses great artifacts and stories of the famous performances of this infamous outdoor theater.

To enjoy your day fully, begin your day with the Trading Post Trail, stop in at the Trading Post to grab a snack and see the Hall of Fame, then climb the amphitheater to the Visitors Center. Return to your car and head to Morrison; grab a bite at The Cow Eatery and get the Mac & Cheese Grilled Cheese.

Red Rocks Walking Map (click for interaction)

Denver's musical history perhaps started in Five Points and then grew to Red Rocks. It's now growing through the Levitt Pavilion at Denver's other site for red rocks, Ruby Hill. No matter where you live in the metro Denver area, you can find great Denver history via walking and hiking its parks, trails and neighborhoods.

Do you have a walk to add to the best places for musicians to walk in Denver? Post about it and tag it with #denverbyfoot so I can see! I love it when I see how you're enjoying Denver.

See you on the trail,

~Chris