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?

First, walk your kids or grandkids to school.

Second, take the 1-mile radius challenge.

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.

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.

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?

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.

Wondering if your kid is old enough to walk alone?

Read Walking and Biking to School.

How should your kid walk to school?

Get a buddy and read Should Your Child Walk to School?

Is the route safe to school?

Read Safe Routes to School.

Got anxious kids?

Read Anxious Kids? Let Them Walk to School.

Take the 1-mile Radius Challenge

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. Take the 1-mile radius walking challenge (click for instructions.) Maybe you'll find some things to do with your kids by foot on the way home from school, too.

Discover your neighborhood by foot.

Let me know how it goes!

~Chris


 


5 Shady Walks IN Denver

5 Shady Walks in Denver

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



3 Easy Urban Hikes in Denver

3 Easy Urban Hikes in Denver

With Take a Hike Day upon us, rather than driving up into the mountains for a hike, here are three easy urban hikes in Denver. Great for kids, visiting family, and everyone else who loves to hike, these three easy hikes near Denver invite everyone out for a great time. These hikes help tourists and visiting friends adjust into and acclimate to our Denver altitude, too! Be sure to click the hike title for an interactive map.

The Norfolk Glen Loop

9creeks eatwalklearn

Norfolk Glen Loop. The Norfolk Glen Loop in Aurora combines the best of the outdoors with the ease of two great trails, the Sand Creek Greenway and the High Line Canal Trail. At five miles, which you can shorten to just over three, this hike starts at the Star K Ranch Morrison Nature Center off Smith Road (16002 E. Smith Road, Aurora 80011). You walk through wonderful open space filled with deer, elk, coyotes and prairie dogs. You'll cross the Sand Creek onto the High Line Canal Trail, and walk for a couple of miles with the Canal on your right and open space full of hawks and eagles on your left. After navigating the Triple Creek Trailhead, you'll head back along the Sand Creek and its Greenway on soft surface trail. When you arrive back to the Nature Center, be sure to go inside to use the restrooms and enjoy the interpretive history about Mr Stark. For the kids, they can touch some animal furs, too!

Stapleton Central Park Loop

The Stapleton Central Park Loop. At three miles, all housed within Stapleton's Central Park, you can follow the map, or just get lost meandering the trails between Central Park and Westerly Creek Park. Within the loop, you'll find a fantastic playground for all ages that includes rock climbing and bouldering. Don't miss the beautiful Alzhiemer's Remembrance Garden, and be sure to walk out onto the overlook. This "bridge to nowhere" is actually a piece of artwork designed to connect the old Stapleton airport with the new. It diagonally points from the old air tower just to the west to the new air tower to the northeast. Regardless of which way you walk this loop, the views are plenty.

Confluence Park Clover Loop

9creeks eatwalklearn

The Confluence Loop. A great hike for locals wanting to show off Denver, this hike starts at REI at Confluence Park. You'll walk along the Platte River toward Mile High Stadium, cross the million-dollar bridge, then enjoy the swoosh of Elitch's roller coasters. Pass the City of Denver's Centennial Garden, then you'll take a right and amble along Cherry Creek. Here, you can see where Denver and Auraria were founded while enjoying some great urban art. The walk continues along the Platte River to Denver's Skatepark, which is continually ranked in the top 10 free skate parks in the world. If you're ambitious, you can extend this three miles walk over the Millennial Bridge and drop into Union Station for lunch.

Finally, a favor.

If you enjoyed this post, would you consider helping me raise money to fight cancer? I'll be hiking Yosemite with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In order for me to attend, I must raise $3900. Would you consider donating to send me on my way and to fight cancer? Donate here. Thank you

Have you walked any of these loops? Which was your favorite? And thanks for supporting me and the Leukemia Society.

See you on the trail

~Chris


Hiking in Fall Color in Denver

Finding Fall Color in Denver

Fall is quickly approaching in the mountains, and it will soon be here in Denver. You can see it by the subtle yellowing of the cottonwoods and ash trees in Denver and the vibrant golden changes in the Aspen in the mountains.

Everyone flocks to the high tops of the front range to catch their beloved views of Aspen color riots. But you can find some great fall color right here within the C470 loop, often within 10 minutes of your Denver home.

How does fall color IN Denver differ than the “color” you find up in the mountains? Up in the higher altitudes, you’ll find the bright yellows shining from Aspen trees. Contrasted against their white trunks, the display of color varies from brilliant goldenrod to rusty orange. But in Denver, the altitude is too low for a healthy Aspen grove. So what’s a Denverite to do?

Enter the majestic cottonwood. A tree that has both female and male species, its heart-shaped leaves resemble those of its cousin, the Aspen. But the cottonwood doesn’t shimmer and shake; its leaves are attached on a straight stem rather than at a ninety degree angle. What it does have going for it is its mighty size. Cottonwoods can grow to 100 feet and age to over 100 years. You’ll find cottonwoods on river banks, streams and our fabulous old ditch system (including the High Line!) here in Denver.

Three Denver Hikes for Fall Color

Throughout Denver you’ll find cottonwoods along the High Line Canal Trail, up and down the Platte River, and embedded along the Sand Creek Greenway and the Cherry Creek. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge is loaded with them as well. And bonus, bison!

Don’t forget that fall color shows up in our wild prairie grasses, too. Where there aren’t trees, there’s prairie. The grasses of the prairies have flushes of burgundy, rust and straw from the curly dock, blue stem, and bison grasses.

A Lush Prairie Grass Hike

To get a flush of grassy fall color, you don’t have to travel far. Check out this urban hike in Lowry for some great fall color via the grassy plains. It’s a great place to hear smaller song birds, too. A great time to do this hike is at dusk. The sun will be setting, birds will be fluttering, and you can get a high vantage point at low altitude via the Kelly Dam.

If “fall color” to you means trees, well, you’d be in good company. Instead of making some crazy drive to Kenosha Pass or Mt Audubon where you’ll have to brave lots of traffic, higher altitude breathing, and people galore, stay right here in town. Denver is lucky to have one of the longest urban trails in the country. It’s a gem that other cities wish they could trade us for. But they can’t. We’ve got the High Line Canal Trail.

Cottonwoods on the High Line Canal Trail

The High Line Canal Trail runs from just south of the airport in Green Valley Ranch to Waterton Canyon. Passing through rural and suburban Aurora, dipping into urban Denver, sliding across Cherry Creek, meandering through Littleton, and finishing in Highlands Ranch, a section of it is nearby. If you live in Metro Denver, you can be on the High Line Canal Trail in ten minutes. And guess what? It’s loaded with cottonwoods.

Whether you want one specimen by itself or an entire grove, you can find what you’re looking for. In Aurora on the DeLaney Urban Farm portion, you will see prairie dogs, hawks, and maybe a deer or two. Head further south to Windsor Gardens, and you can reflect on the famous Denverites buried in Fairmount Cemetery. If you want a complete cottonwood tunnel, you’ll find it between Centennial and Cherry Hills.

My favorite segment on the High Line, which is loaded with falling leaves, mountain views, and wind open prairies is around mile marker 35. But if you want to enjoy a smorgasbord of delicious wild fruits on the High Line Canal Trail, get yourself hiking especially between mile markers 16-25 (from Fly n B Ranch to Julia deKoevend Park, segments 5, 6, 7.) You’ll also find a plethora of wild apples and plums. Bon appetite!

Color on the Platte River

If you’re closer to downtown and don’t want to travel east or south, you don’t have to go far at all for fall color. The Platte River’s banks are loaded with cottonwood after cottonwood. They’re big, shady, and colorful. You can take the Platte River Trail for over 40 miles, but the good news is that its colorful secrets are close in town too. Between the Denver Skate Park and Commons Park, you’ll get your fill of color. You can park near REI and meander onto the banks of the river at the kayak trail and head down river.

Want to get away from the crowds at Confluence Park? Head towards Globeville. Here, the banks behind Brighton Blvd to I25 flush with cottonwood brilliance. If you make it all the way to Carpio Sanguinette Park (previously Northside Park) you’ll be treated to wonderful sayings of optimism embedded in  the concrete paths within the park. The 9 Creeks Loop, especially along the South Platte River near Globeville on segments 1 and 8 will fill your every fall color need.

Where will you see color in Metro Denver this fall? The fall color comes to Denver a bit later than up the front range. Denver’s lower altitude takes a bit longer to bring on fall. Expect fall color to show up in Denver in late September, but it can sometimes go on to late October. Me, I’ll be hiking the High Line Canal for most of October. I’ll squeeze in some time on the 9 Creeks Loop, and then I’ll probably end the season romping with the bison out at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. Out there, even if I miss the color, there’s always bison to view!

Post pics of what you see this year and share your bounty of fall color in Denver. Tag them #denverbyfoot so I’m sure to see them.

~See you on the trail,

Chris


University Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

University Urban Hiking Denver

After a year of walking all 78 of Denver's neighborhoods, we finally came to the last one, University. Granted, it wasn't quite alphabetical in the list, but it was fun to end at where Chipotle started! In only two miles, we covered most of the neighborhood, including its star attraction, University of Denver.

Old Buildings and a Chapel

The University neighborhood sits between Downing and University, I25 and Dartmouth. Where it used to be way out of town and away from the rough and tumble influence of Denver, it's now a "college town" where most of the residents are somehow engaged with the University.

The University of Denver, still legally called Colorado Seminary, invites about 11000 students a year, both undergraduate and graduate, to study. Originally started in downtown Denver in 1864 and named after then territory governor John Evans, the school relocated to this area to soon afterward. Many of the buildings on campus date from the late 1890s. Of interest is the small, centrally located Evans Chapel. This 1870s-vintage, originally located in downtown Denver, was moved to the DU campus in the early 1960s.

Fast and Fresh

Around the corner from the campus on Evans Blvd sits the original Chipotle. Started by Steve Ellis, who had graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, he originally thought he'd open a fine dining restaurant. But burritos prevailed, McDonalds invested (then divested), and the chain grew to become one of America's favorite fast fresh burrito makers. Be sure to stop in and marvel at its size (small!).

Toss in a Turtle or Two

After checking out Denver's famous fast fresh franchise, continue on the block to Deiter's, the local's favorite chocolate store. Be sure to try the dark chocolate turtle with pecans, a creamy deliciousness you won't want to pass.

Thus, the infamous Denver Neighborhoods project came to an end. Do drop me a line and let me know what your favorite post or walk was and let me know which neighborhood you're walking next. What's next for me? Stay tuned.

Buy my ebook that has all the 78 neighborhoods and their interactive maps, Walking Denver's 78 Neighborhoods.

The Route:

Start at 2199 E Harvard Ave. Look to your south across the small park and you'll see the Harvard Gulch Trail. Jump on trail and walk west. At S Gilpin St, exit the trail to the north.

Follow Gilpin to to E Evans Ave, take a right. Enjoy the original Chipotle's on the corner of Gilpin and Evans. At Evans, take a right, noticing the nice murals on the building walls.

Continue on Evans, past Deiter's chocolate shop, taking a right after the Dricoll Center South, meandering up through the campus toward its center. If the chapel is open, enter and have a look inside. Exit the chapel to the west, continuing your meander through campus.

Reach S High St. Take a right. Cross over the park onto Harvard Gulch, taking it to the left (east) until you return back to your start.

~See you on the trail

Chris
Click here to see the route, map, and turn by turn directions.