What is Urban Hiking?

What Is Urban Hiking?

“Urban Hiking” keeps popping up as the fastest growing trend in hiking. But what, exactly, is an urban hike? When you want to get outside, or you may not have personal transportation, or you don’t want to drive all the way to the trailhead, maybe it’s time for an urban hike. Rather than mountains and forest, you can find natural beauty and fun obstacles right outside your urban door.

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How’s Urban Hiking Differ from Hiking or Walking?

It’s not hiking.

It’s not walking.

So What Is Urban Hiking?

Urban Hiking is a walk in the city that includes a sense of adventure. It embraces the urban environment by  adventuring through parks, climbing stairwells, crossing intersections, and meandering through the city’s obstacles of life.

You can do urban hikes with your friends or by yourself. When urban hiking, you can be anonymous in a sea of people. Sidewalks, speed bumps, and curbs become your obstacles in your hiking trail to balance, cross, and giggle across.

No Trailheads, No Maps, Per Se

Usually while urban hiking, there are no particular trailheads or maps. There’s no designated trail. You might use urban trails like Denver’s 5280 Trail, the Freedom Trail in Boston, or the Schuylkill River Trail in Philly. But you’re more likely to blaze your own path.

Rather than a walk, which might also involve a neighborhood, a park, and a street, urban hiking involves putting on a pair of shoes that like concrete (the KEEN Gypsum), perhaps packing water and a snack, using public restrooms, and darting between cars, across crosswalks and over creeks. It’s often more strenuous than a walk, can include a local or regional trail, and it might even require your balance across an unbridged creek. The built environment becomes your playground.

Elevators, Stairs and Tree Stumps Make Up Urban Hikes

Elevators  become your climb, stairs are your downhill trek. The focus is on the discovery of an adventure, not on the amount of steps, miles, or laps you’ve completed. You might find a hidden stream, a forgotten pocket park, or an unexplored alley.

It’s an Attitude

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Urban hiking is also an attitude. You’re ready for an urban hike when you’ve decided another walk around the neighborhood is un-thrilling, and you’re excited to discover other areas of your world. You may want to go alone, grab a friend, or join a group. Regardless, you’re eager to discover and break out of the routine, and you don’t/can’t/won’t get to a traditional trailhead at a hike in the woods, the mountains, or the parks.

It’s Not an Adrenaline Rush

Even though you’re ready to break the routine with an urban hike, it’s not about an adrenaline rush. You don’t need special ice picks, climbing cleats, or tents. Although you may know wilderness first aid, you probably won’t use it. 911 calls work on urban hikes. Granted you probably aren’t in fear of a bear on an urban hike, but you might be in fear of a delivery truck running you over.

So Get Out There

Grab your hat, your gear, your sunscreen, and your phone. Go discover urban hiking.

Where Should You Urban Hike First?

For your first urban hike, jump on the local transit, take it to a destination, and do your first urban hike back to your house. Maybe you’ll be on a trail, a street, a road or an alley. Maybe you’ll wade a creek, climb a bank, or cross the commuter bridge. Have fun. Find an adventure.

Favorite Urban Hikes in Denver?

If you would like some good urban hiking suggestions in Denver, be sure to get my book, Best Urban Hikes: Denver, available on Amazon and good bookstores everywhere.

Here are a few urban hikes in Denver that you can do right now: Five Points, Highland, Athmar Park. You can also use the filter on the Hikes page to find hikes by length, location, family friendly, and so on. Have fun!

Post your picture below!

See you on the trail..

~Chris



An Urban Hike through Denver's Conflicted Affair with MLK, Race Relations, and the KKK

An Urban Hike through Denver's Conflicted Affair with MLK, Race Relations, and the KKK

Martin Luther King, Jr's facade appears on each crossing on MLK Jr Blvd.

Park Hill's giant footprint to the east of City Park is actually divided into three "official" neighborhoods according to the City of Denver. For this walk you will amble through two of the three "neighborhoods", North Park Hill and Northeast Park Hill.

*editorial note: Please note that there is no agenda here to separate the neighborhoods by this route. The geography of "Park Hill" is too big to do in one day. If you would also like to walk the southern portion known as South Park Hill, please read this post with its curated map. You might also want to read this piece about Park Hill's History before taking off, as the info below just barely scratches its surface.

From small bungalows to fancy cottages, the architecture throughout Park Hill varies.

Where Is Park Hill?

Northeast Park Hill is directly north of North Park Hill with the same east-west boundaries of Colorado and Quebec. Northeast Park Hill extends above I70 to 56th Ave, stopping at North Park Hill's northern boundary of Martin Luther King, Jr, Blvd. North Park Hill then continues south to E 23rd Ave.

A variety of homes throughout North and Northeast Park HIll

It's a big neighborhood with a big story. Fashioned out of the prairies and farms to the east of City Park, the neighborhood grew northerly and eventually taking over the original Lowry Field. Barons von Winckler and von Richthofen played a part in establishing Park Hill, and their story fits better in the discussion of south Park Hill and Montclair.

A Segregation Story Starts Here (but Doesn't End.)

Park Hill's neighborhoods tell the a story that keeps unfolding through the names of its streets, parks, schools and churches, and continues to be told through annual MLK Marades, festivals, and daily activities.

Smiley school building

The schools in Park Hill, particularly Barrett and Park Hill Elementary, were the center of a segregation battle that started with Park Hill plaintiffs battling Denver Public Schools. With a case that rose up to the Supreme Court (Keyes v School District 1 Denver), DPS was eventually told to enforce bussing in an attempt to desegregate Denver schools. This decision led the way to national bussing changes in every school district in the country.

MLK, Jr in Park Hill

Martin Luther King, Jr visited Park Hill in 1964, making visits and speeches at Macedonia Baptist Church and then spoke at Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church. Crowds overflowed the churches, spilling into the streets of Park Hill. King chose Park Hill because of the Park Hill’s community vision to integrate peacefully and its history in the fight for integrated schools.

Although City Park is not in the Park Hill neighborhood, while walking this route, it's important to remember that in City Park is a statue of MLK, Jr. In 1976, Ed Rose took up the challenge of sculpting Martin Luther King, Jr. Many felt that the squat figure of King with Emmett Till, the Mississippi youth whose lynching prompted King into the civil rights movement, should have been more lifelike and not so representative.

The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Foundation had commissioned the statue and felt the head was too large for the body. Although Rose was finally paid, the statue was moved to the Denver Art Museum’s basement in 1976 and in 2002, it was moved to the Martin Luther King Jr Museum and Cultural Center in Pueblo. A second statue, fashioned by Ed Dwight replaced the original in 2002, and it now stands. It includes King, standing on the shoulders of Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass. Surrounding the statue on the plaza, you’ll find panels depicting relevant moments in civil rights history.

An Historic Home Still Impacts Park Hill Today

As you're walking the route below, notice the house on the corner of 26th Ave and Clermont (4431 E 26th Ave, Denver). This is the home of an anti-KKK advocate, an original Colorado Mountaineer, and a land developer and Tuberculosis healer. Read the story here.

And Finally, New Areas Making Impact in Park Hill Today

Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being - Mental Health Center of Denver

The Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being has become a centerpiece of Park Hill. Opening its doors to those who need health care, dental care and community care, the Dahlia Campus also offers urban gardening, cooking workshops, and even a fishery!

The walk (see route below) will take you past some of the relevant points of interest, while also enjoying the diversity and community of Park Hill. You might want to reference The Park Hill Neighborhood by Thomas Noel and William Hansen to guide you in your turns.

The Route

Start at 3800 Dahlia Street. Walk east on 38th Ave, stopping in Commonwealth Coffee Roasters for a quick cuppa or a sniff of the roasted coffee. Turn left (north) on Forest and stop in at Mountain Fresh Market to grab a snack. Once you're caffeinated and filled, head east on E 38th Ave to Hudson, turn right.

Continue on Hudson to 37th Ave, then take a right on Holly.

Pass the Hiawatha Davis Rec Center (named after a former City Council member and activist in the black community), taking a left on 33rd Ave.

Take a right on Ivanhoe to MLK, Jr. Turn right to cross over MLK, Jr at Holly. In the median, be sure to notice the brass facades of MLK, Jr in the brick planters. Continue down Holly to 30th, take a left.

Take a right on Ivanhoe. As you approach Smiley campus, you'll be walking the block where the head plaintiff in the DPS desegregation/bussing case's home was bombed. At E 26th, turn right.

The Smiley campus, first named Holly Junior High and then Park Hill Junior High, became the first Junior High in Denver to integrate. The campus is named after William Smiley, a popular DPS Superintendent from 1912-1924.

At Holly, go south. Notice the green terra-cotta tiles capping the domes of the school. At E 25th Ave, take a right.

Take a left on Grape Street and then a right on E 23rd Ave. Cross Elm, and notice the home at 4935 E 23rd Ave, the Johnson/Turnbull house. Built in 1908, this Arts and Crafts home also provided materials for the owner's daughter's home just north on Elm at 2315. Johnson was President of a men's furnishing business and Turnbull pioneered film-making animation here in Colorado.

Go north on Elm. Take a right on E 25th Ave and then a left on Fairfax. Take a left on 26th, then a right on Clermont.

Cross MLK, Jr, and enter the City of Axum Sister City Park. One of several Denver Sister City Parks, this park mirrors its sister in Axum, Ethiopia, birthplace of the Queen of Sheba.

Exit the park to the east along E 33rd Ave, turning north (left) on Dahlia. At the Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being - Mental Health Center of Denver, enter the gardens on the east side of the building and enjoy the community gardens and hydroponic fish tanks.

Continue north on Dahlia to return back to where you started.

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

Walking Park Hill and Supporting Denver By Foot

If you’ve enjoyed this walk, maybe you’ll enjoy some other walks curated by Denver By Foot. Get the 52 Hikes 52 Weeks Denver Calendar, which recommends a hike a week, subscribe to the YouTube Channel to hear about weekly hiking suggestions in Denver, and buy access to the Denver By Foot Challenge. The Challenge is 30 activities in Denver to do by foot where you’ll uncover treasures throughout Denver. It’s a great thing to do with friends and family.

Finally, please support Denver By Foot by purchasing Chris Englert’s books, The Best Urban Hikes: Denver and Discovering Denver Parks. Thank you so much!

Did you enjoy this walk? What was the best part? Post your comments below!

~See you on the trail

Chris


Urban Hiking though Denver's Race Barrier in Whittier and Skyland

Urban Hiking through Denver's Race Barrier in Whittier and Skyland

Tucked just east of Five Points is a pair of neighborhoods people often overlook while cruising Martin Luther King Blvd. But that's a shame; Whittier and Skyland have something to say in which all Denverites should listen. Walking these two neighborhoods together is imperative; their history is intertwined in a story of integration. Race Street, particularly, runs through the middle of these two neighborhoods and historically marked Denver's color barrier. Together, these neighborhoods tell the story of remembering. Let's start the story with Whittier.

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Where Is Whittier?

Whittier sits with 23rd Avenue to the south, Martin Luther King Boulevard (32nd) to the north, Downing St. to the west and York St. to the east. Named after John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), an abolitionist poet and a founding member of the American Republican political party, the neighborhood lives and breathes history that melts over from Five Points, jazz music, and Denver's integration story.

The Color Line

While walking the neighborhood, you'll learn many things, including these four interesting treasures. Race St was the historical color line of Denver. In order to recall the history, you can find scant traces of an art project called the Whittier Alley Loop project. from 2015. This project told the story of integration and race through murals, artwork, and stories painted into the street. Although almost completely gone, the Whittier Alley Loop project can still be seen with careful eyes and keen sight.

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The First Female Millionaire and Hair

Along the short loop, you'll learn about treasure number two. Whittier was home to Madam CJ Walker's African-American hair care business. She became the first self-made, female, African-American millionaire, influencing beauty all over the US, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Knocking door to door, she schlepped hair tonic and solutions to an audience who loved her. Although her business didn't stay in Denver, her impact did.

Buffalo Bill's Final Wish

You may know that Buffalo Bill's final wish was to be buried on Lookout Mountain. But did you know he made that wish from right here in Whittier? Treasure number three is an interesting piece of local history as well--the home where Buffalo Bill Cody died! Pony Express rider, war veteran, bison killer and sideshow salesman, the place where he died still remains. Look for his sister's home in the 2900 block of Lafayette. The metal bison in the yard gives him away.

The Local Music Teacher and Political Guru

Morrison Park, named after George C Morrison who is known as the godfather of jazz, centers Whittier as a fourth treasure. Make sure to read the lovely signage and memorial to him, which links him to the historic Five Points jazz scene. He also held political court of many influencers who knew the importance of stopping in to see a community leader.

Jumping to the Skyland

Skyland, more commonly known as North City Park Neighborhood, is bordered by Martin Luther King Boulevard to the north, East 23rd Avenue to the south, Colorado Boulevard to the east and York Street to the west, sitting just east of Whittier and includes the City Park golf course (which currently is closed and is future is uncertain.)

Skyland's neighborhood association, North City Park Civic Association, has been around almost 40 years, and they've posted signs at the neighborhood's entries. Although Skyland doesn't have the more exciting history that Whittier has, it, too has contributed to the area's wax and wane with Five Points and Whittier. While walking in Skyland,, you'll find the typical mix of older homes and 1940s homes, but the 1940s dominate the area. It also includes the historically denoted home of Denver's first black architect (who was blind in one eye!) at 2600 Milwaukee St.

Walking the two neighborhoods together will help you see how the "color line" affected both areas. You'll also see the mix of history, the development of some beautiful pocket parks, and an attempt to keep history alive. This 3.3-mile walk keep you talking about both neighborhoods even after you finish.

 

The Route:

Start at 3019 N Lafayette St. Walk south past the community garden and through the park. Look for the house on the east side of the street that has a buffalo in its yard. That's the death place of Buffalo Bill.

Take a left on E 30th Ave, right on Franklin, then a left on E 29th Ave. Walk south and diagonally through Denver's second oldest park, Fuller Park. Say hello to the dogs in the dog park and pass along Manuel High School. Continue to the east along E 28th Ave.

At the corner of High St and 28th, enjoy the mural on the library. Then, walk up the alley to the west of High Street, seeing the remnants of the Whittler Alley Loop project. Continue up the alley to E 30th.

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Take a right and enjoy the history of Madame CJ. Continue to the east, crossing High and then heading south in the alley behind High St. Take a left on E 28th Ave.

Take a right on Race St, then a left on 26th Ave. Cross York into Skyland. Take a left on Josephine St.

Take a right on E 27t Ave and a left on Elizabeth, a right on E 28th Ave, then a left on Clayton, making your way through Skyland. Notice the variation in homes with the block from turn of the century to modern.

Pass the local schools, then continue to take a right on E 30th Ave, then a left on Fillmore St. Take a left on E 31st Ave, continuing your amble in Skyland.

Cross York again, then at High, take a right. At MLK, take a left, walking through Morrison park and stopping to read its history. At Lafayette, take a left, returning back to your start.

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

Walking Whittier and Skyland and Supporting Denver By Foot

If you’ve enjoyed this walk, maybe you’ll enjoy some other walks curated by Denver By Foot. Get the 52 Hikes 52 Weeks Denver Calendar, which recommends a hike a week, subscribe to the YouTube Channel to hear about weekly hiking suggestions in Denver, and buy access to the Denver By Foot Challenge. The Challenge is 30 activities in Denver to do by foot where you’ll uncover treasures throughout Denver. It’s a great thing to do with friends and family.

Finally, please support Denver By Foot by purchasing Chris Englert’s books, The Best Urban Hikes: Denver and Discovering Denver Parks. Thank you so much!

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An Urban Hike with Trains! Trails! Tales! at Union Station Denver

An Urban Hike with Trains! Trails! Tales! at Union Station Denver

Union Station neighborhood, which is basically what the locals call "LoDo," is a small and very dense neighborhood around Union Station. If you've ever taken the train into Union Station, you've ridden right through the neighborhood.

The boundaries of the Union Station Neighborhood are the Platte River, 14th St, 20th St and Larimer St. When walking this neighborhood, arrive at Union Station via the train or public transit and save yourself the headaches of trying to park. Taking an urban hike around Union Station, you'll learn about some of Denver's very beginnings, see amazing artwork, transport yourself to the glory days of railroad, and possibly grab a great bite to eat.

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Where Denver Began

The Union Station neighborhood is loaded with Denver's most fun restaurants, the fabulous Union Station, awe-inspiring new apartment and condo buildings, good parks, great pedestrian bridges, the 16th St Mall, and views all around. But before you even head out of the station, if you did in fact arrive by train, be sure to spend some time in the train station itself.

Visit The Trains and Their Station First

Union Station out survived all the other train stations that competed to get the train traffic in Denver. An original train station built in 1881 burned in 1894 to be replaced in two stages by the current Romanesque Revival, which was updated, restored, and reopened in 2014. At one point, over 150 trains ran through the station. Now with the new RTD station, the commuter trains and light rail are back, competing with Amtrak and freight trains.

As you tour around Union Station (this is also a great walk to do at night), be sure to not only go to the second floor and look out the Cooper Bar windows up 17th Street, marvel at the restored chandeliers, gobble good eats from any of the restaurants, and maker sure to buy a copy of my book, The Best Urban Hikes: Denver, from the Tattered Cover inside Union Station! You'll want to escape to the basement and find the old bathrooms. It's kinda fun down there. You might even stop at the info stand and quiz the volunteer, or if you're feeling ritzy, check into the new Crawford Hotel, built by Dana Crawford, who also restored Larimer Square.

An Urban Hike through Union Station Neighborhood

On this particular urban hike, you'll walk through Larimer Square, to Coors Field, and across several pedestrian bridges. The route is only about two miles, but there are a few things you'll want to spend time enjoying.

Don't Miss the Masquerade Ball...

(Note: currently, the Evolution of the Ball is being protected in storage while Coors Field undergoes renovation. It should be back up to the public in summer 2020. Instead, spend time finding Red Velvet.)

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Be sure not to miss the darling and often overlooked Evolution of the Ball sculpture at the entry into the Coors Field ballpark, which happens to be in the Five Points neighborhood but its entry is officially in Union Station's neighborhood. See if you can find The Masquerade Ball! It's a two-column piece of art made with ceramic tiles that have different baseballs embedded in them. Be sure to read the name of the balls and correlate them to the chart denoting why the balls are named as they are.

Larimer Square Awaits You

On the route, you'll walk through Larimer Square. Originally home to some of Denver's original buildings, and lovingly restored by Dana Crawford, you'll want to take time admiring a few things. On the east side of the street you'll see a courtyard about mid-block. Enter it to enjoy some artwork on the ceilings and get exposed to the Larimer Square walking tour. On the west side of the street, stop in The Market for the best desserts in this part of town, then make your way to the alley behind the west side of the buildings for an alley cat surprise.

Trains Run through It

As you cross the three pedestrian bridges on this route, be sure to eye the north/south views along the train tracks and the east/west views up the Streets and to the Rockies. This walk arguably has the best views in Denver, seconded only by Green Valley Ranch's! At one time, the employee responsible for raising and lowering the arm for pedestrian traffic at Union Station did it every 7 seconds due to the amount of trains coming through Denver.

The Route:

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.

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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 (in storage until summer 2020). 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.

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

Walking LoDo Union Station and Supporting Denver By Foot

If you’ve enjoyed this walk, maybe you’ll enjoy some other walks curated by Denver By Foot. Get the 52 Hikes 52 Weeks Denver Calendar, which recommends a hike a week, subscribe to the YouTube Channel to hear about weekly hiking suggestions in Denver, and buy access to the Denver By Foot Challenge. The Challenge is 30 activities in Denver to do by foot where you’ll uncover treasures throughout Denver. It’s a great thing to do with friends and family.

Finally, please support Denver By Foot by purchasing Chris Englert’s books, The Best Urban Hikes: Denver and Discovering Denver Parks. Thank you so much!


Auraria Denver Urban Hike Through Denver's Historical Beginnings

Auraria Denver Urban Hike Through Denver's Historical Beginnings

auraria urban hiking eatwalklearn

The Auraria neighborhood overlooks the confluence of the Platte River and Cherry Creek. Many folks know Auraria as the home to three college campuses or as the site of the original Denver. But the one common denominator that pulls together this neighborhood would be the rise and fall of political agendas. For this Denver Neighborhood walk, you'll take an urban hike through Auraria, learn about the impact the 1965 flood had on an entire community, get a whiff of social injustice and discover a rich history of the wax and wane of Denver.

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Gold!

Auraria Urban Hiking--Where Denver Politics Began Many folks know Auraria as the home to three college campuses or as the site of the original Denver. But t

Denver's history actually started up river near the Dry Creek and Platte River confluence at what is now Grant Frontier Park in a town originally called Montana City. When the wished-for gold didn't appear, the settlers moved down river to the confluence of the Cherry Creek and Platte River. Here, two brothers from Auraria, Georgia (named after the chemical element for gold, Au), resettled their community, still hoping for the big gold strike. It never came at the confluence, but gold did strike just down river at the confluence of the Clear Creek and the Platte, where you can still pan for gold!

None the less, Auraria sprouted up quickly. It drew the attention of General William Larimer who arrived to town and established the competing town of Denver, named after the Kansas Territorial Governor James W Denver, across from the confluence. Tousling and politicking began. Soon, Auraria gave way to Denver, and Denver became the queen of the Platte River. Legend says that the Auraria coalition lost to the Denver coalition in naming rights over a whiskey and a duel. Thus, Denver overtook Auraria.

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By the way, ever wondered why there are so many five-pointed intersections in Denver? Auraria laid out its streets parallel to the Cherry Creek and Denver laid them out parallel to the Platte River. When the joined, the cattywompus streets came together in five-way intersections.

As you're walking through what is now the Higher Ed Campus, you'll see the old Tivoli Brewing building, which is now a student-run brewery inside the student center. Historically, with people came beer, of course. The Tivoli Brewing company established in 1864 and grew quickly, changing hands many times. After the 1965 flood and employee strike, it closed, only to return later as part of the college campus.

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Why Is there an Historic District in the Middle of a College Campus?

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When the 1965 flood invaded Auraria and destroyed much of the vibrant Hispanic neighborhood that originally settled in this area, Denver leaders gathered to decide how to renovate and restore the destruction. Ultimately politicking their way to building an Higher Education campus to home UC Denver, Metro State, and Community College of Denver, Denver politicians' decisions displaced the remaining Hispanic population and created the 9th Avenue Historic District. Many of the original members of the Hispanic population moved to the Lincoln/La Alma neighborhood. The original church, St Cajetan, still remains on the campus and is now the student center. Students who can claim heritage to the original Hispanic families receive scholarships to any of the Auraria campus school.

In the 9th Avenue Historic District, you'll find many examples of uniquely-Denver architecture, Golda Meir's home, and department offices.

Amusement Parks!

auraria urban hiking eatwalklearn

Shortly following the campus designation, Elitch Gardens moved in (which is moving out in 2021.) Then, not to be outdone by the other large event arenas in the area, the City put in the Pepsi Center in 1999 where Celine Dion opened the venue. Thus by the early 2000s, not much remained of the original neighborhoods but the regional politicking continues.

Neighborhood Boundaries

auraria urban hiking eatwalklearn

The existing Auraria neighborhood boundaries make a  triangle shape of I25, the Cherry Creek and West Colfax.

The Route

To enjoy an urban hike through Auraria and to hit on the top spots mentioned above, you can do a nice 3.5 mile route in and around the campus. Start at the Auraria Library (take public transit to get there, 1100 Lawrence St, Denver, CO 80204.) Head east toward downtown, crossing Speer and catching the ramp down to Cherry Creek. Cross the creek then take a left on the pedestrian path, avoiding the bikes only path on the south side of the creek.

Notice all of the street art along the walls that bank the creek. Funded by the Denver Arts and Venues, these murals change often, so return often. Right before arriving at the confluence of the Platte River and the Cherry Creek, take the ramp up and then across Cherry Creek.

Continue around the bend at the confluence, staying on the east side of the Platte. You'll pass Centennial Gardens, patterned after Gardens of Versailles, that has paths and patterned flowerbeds showcasing native species. You'll then pass Elitch Gardens, an amusement park full of roller coasters, which was once on the outskirts of town and was then relocated to this location in 1995. It's moving again in 2021.

Pass under Bronco bridge, then veer to the left past the small, blue parking building. Cross the railroad tracks and then the light rail tracks, staying on the sidewalk as it bends slightly to the right. You'll arrive back on the Auraria campus. At 8th Street, take a right.

Walk one block, take a left and then take a right on 9th Street. You'll see the 9th Street Historic District in front of you. On the right is the St Cajetan's church. Once the cultural and religious center of the community, it now serves as venue to the universities and community events. Continue down the street, passing Golda Meir's house. Be sure to read the plaques in front of each home, and you'll discover stories of the locals, the architecture and more history of the area.

At the end of the sidewalk, make a u-turn and continue up the other side of 9th Street Historic District, and continue to read the plaques along the way. When you reach the mercantile, take a right on Curtis Street and a left on 10th Street, returning back to where you started at the library.

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

Walking Auraria Neighborhood and Supporting Denver By Foot

If you’ve enjoyed this walk, maybe you’ll enjoy some other walks curated by Denver By Foot. Get the 52 Hikes 52 Weeks Denver Calendar, which recommends a hike a week, subscribe to the YouTube Channel to hear about weekly hiking suggestions in Denver, and buy access to the Denver By Foot Challenge. The Challenge is 30 activities in Denver to do by foot where you’ll uncover treasures throughout Denver. It’s a great thing to do with friends and family.

Finally, please support Denver By Foot by purchasing Chris Englert’s books, The Best Urban Hikes: Denver and Discovering Denver Parks. Thank you so much!