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

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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


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 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.

Three Denver Hikes for Fall Color

Here are three great places to find fall color IN Denver.

Fall color shows up in our wild prairie grasses, too. 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.


The High Line Canal Trail, especially between mile markers 16-25 (from Fly n B to Julia deKoevend Park, segments 5, 6, 7.) You'll also find a plethora of wild apples and plums. Bon appetite!

The 9 Creeks Loop, especially along the South Platte River near Globeville on segments 1 and 8.

Post pics of what you see this year and share your bounty of fall color in Denver.

~See you on the trail,


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

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

West Colfax Villa Park Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

West Colfax Villa Park Urban Hiking Denver

If you'd like to go for a fun and interesting walk on the west side, combine the neighborhoods of West Colfax and Villa Park. They share the east/west boundaries of Sheridan and Federal. West Colfax goes north to 17th, Villa Park goes south to 6th, and the Lakewood/Dry Gulch splits the neighborhoods into two.

A Train Runs through It

The Lakewood/Dry Gulch certainly adds a spectacular punch to the two neighborhoods. This gulch that drains both neighborhoods to the Platte, also has a wonderful trail that goes west along Dry Gulch to Sheridan, or southwesterly along Lakewood Gulch to Green Mountain Park. It also houses the light rail to downtown. Thus, if you live in either neighborhood, you can ride, walk, or transit downtown with ease.

Wicked, yet Full of Dreams

West Colfax, originally the small Colfax neighborhood off the Golden Road, named the longest, wicked, street in the US. The neighborhood eventually annexed to Denver. Villa Park, on the other hand, had grand plans to be a 1000 acre resort with lakes and features. But these dreams suffered too, and eventually the land sold to PT Barnum. The neighborhood split in two, with Villa Park to the north and Barnum to the south. Be sure to read about the fun and crazy Barnum and its history here.

Se Habla Español?

Photo credit Gail Ferber

Both neighborhoods are rich in parks, one of the most relevant being the Paco Sanchez park. Paco made his mark in Denver by starting the first Spanish-speaking radio station and becoming an activist for the Hispanic community. His park sits on the hill overlooking the gulch and downtown.

And an Historic District!

The West Colfax homes have history. Lang, who designed over 600 homes in Denver, took on the fanciful homes along Stuart, and he even influenced the more subdivision-style homes throughout the neighborhood.


A little surprise popped up in Villa Park, an unnamed park! It had a wonderful little playground, an Aztec cat play piece and an Aztec calendar. It's nice to see the park hearken to the ancestral land of Aztlán, which is referenced in Corky Gonzalez' poem, Yo soy Joaquín. This famous poem, say some, marks the beginning of the Chicano movement and its identity.

Enjoy this wonderful 3.3-mile walk through lots of fun discoveries in both West Colfax and Villa Park.

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

The Route:

Start at 1498 Irving St and park at the Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales Library. Walk west on Colfax, turning right on Lowell Blvd. Walk up to Lake International School, which was the first and most ornate Junior High School for the kids around Sloan Lake.

Go west on W 18th Ave, take a left on Meade St, take a right on 17th, then a left on Colfax. Cross Colfax, continuing west.

Take a left on Perry St. Take a right on W 14th St. At the corner of Stuart 14th, enjoy the two homes built by Lang. The one on the SW corner is the Bliss House, which was built for Dr. and Mrs. Jerry and Lillian Bliss. Dr. Bliss, a Civil War veteran, lived here until his death in 1945, at the age of 99, the south's last Civil War veteran.

At Tennyson St, take a left and cross the Lakewood/Dry Gulch into Villa Park. Exit the Gulch onto Stuart St, walking through the neighborhood. You'll reach Martinez Park. Walk through the park and pick up the Lakewood Gulch trail, walking northeasterly.

You'll pass the Aztec-influenced park, continuing to walk northeasterly, catching up with the Dry Gulch trail. Continue along the trail to Knox Court.

Exit the trail, going north on Knox Court, crossing the train tracks and entering Paco Sanchez Park. Enjoy the Paco sign.

Continue northeasterly through the park to W Avondale Drive. Walk north and Avondale turns into Irving. Continue north until you return back to the library where you started.

Wasn't this a fun walk?

See you on the trail

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

West Highland Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

West Highland Urban Hiking Denver

The story of West Highland is very similar to Highland (notice no "s", according to the official list of Denver neighborhoods.) Like its eastern neighbor Highland, West Highland formed out of the desire for folks to get out of the smokey bottom lands of Denver and find cleaner air. So it's no wonder the neighborhood is filled with turn-of-the century Victorians, a few TB sanitariums, and smaller homes that filled in where the larger homes gave way.

The First Female Zookeeper

Also "out in West Highland", rose the famous Elitch’s Zoological Gardens. Run by Mary Elitch, the first female zookeeper, botanic gardener, and theatre owner in the US, this once a booming entertainment complex with live shows, amusements, carousels, and concerts, its theatre and famous labyrinth remain. Sadly the gardens are gone, but the amusements and rides are now in the Central Platte Valley, also known as LoDo (Denver.) The Elitch Gardens Theatre Foundation now owns and runs the current venue.

Tony Lived Here!

While walking the neighborhood, be sure to pass through what the locals hope is a future Packard Historic District between Lowell and the alley between Perry and Osceola, 32nd and 35th. This area is where many famous women used to live, including Antoinette Perry, namesake of the “Tony Awards”.

The Alleys Are Fun, Too

You'll find some treats along this walk, including a bedpost art display, hanging tapestries, and fanciful painted homes. It's 3 miles of historic fun.

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

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

The Route:

Start at 3271 Wolff St. Walk north to W 36th Ave, take a right. At Vrain St, take a left and walk up through the playground. Pass by the old lady in a shoe piece on the playground, making your way to the Sprouts parking lot.

At the parking lot, turn right and see the large green building on your right. This is the old Elitch Theatre. Continue walking to the west and see the old pavilion where the carousel once was. If it's empty, go in and walk the labyrinth while also reading the instructions for enjoying it written on the wall. Exit onto W 37 Ave.

Walk easterly to Quitman St, take a right. Take a left on W 35th Ave. At the alley between Perry and Osceola, turn right. Enjoy the historic and restored garages in the alley. At W 33rd Ave, turn left. Cross Irving St and walk southeasterly along W Fair View Place to Highland Park.

Walk a few steps along Grove St at the park then take a right on Green Court. Cross Speer on to W 32nd.

Enjoy the shops on W 32nd, keeping your eye out for the Ford House, which is west of Lowell Boulevard, between Osceloa and Newton streets. It is the home of the famous female physician, Mary Ford and her partner, Helene Byington — whose daughter, Spring Byington, was a Hollywood actress from 1930 to 1960.

Take a right on Perry St and then a left on W 33rd. At Wolff St, take a left, returning you back to the start.

What did you like best about this walk?

~See you on the trail