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


Sunnyside Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

Sunny on This Side, Sunnyside

Taking an urban hike through Sunnyside provides an interesting and engaging opportunity to see how diversity and variety can cohabitat. I loved Sunnyside.

Sunnyside, with boundaries of the Union Pacific Railroad lines on the east, Interstate 70 on the north, Federal Boulevard on the West and 38th Avenue on the south, has a mix of housing, with everything from income-qualified blocks of homes to restored large turn-of-the century homes and WWII cottages intermingled within.

Good Neighbors

A good community has good neighbors. In Sunnyside, the neighbors have created the Sunnyside Music Fest, held in Chaffee Park in September. They also formed the Troy Chavez Memorial Peace Garden, in response to gang violence, to provide local kids with health after-school activities. In addition, Sunnyside's downtown area thrives with the excellent Sunny's Cafe (get the Hipster!) and rumors of a new brewery coming to Zuni.

From income-qualified homes to old treasures, Sunnyside's growth has waxed and waned. But it remembers its past, embraces its present, and thinks about its future. The artwork in alleys honors Sunnsyide's Native American street-naming conventions. So, while walking in Sunnyside, be sure to see the entire neighborhood, not just some of its more popular areas.

The Route:

Start at 4202 Lipan St. Head north, enjoying the artwork on the dumpsters around the income-qualified housing. Take a left on W 46th Ave. At Tejon St, head south.

You'll pass Chaffee Park on the left. Drop down and see Artist Mark Lansdon’s ‘Garden of Flowers', then come back up and go west on W 44th Ave.

Drop in on Common Grounds for a cuppa or if you need to use the restroom. Continue toward Zuni, walking through the small commercial area, Sunny's Cafe, and the darling auto shop on the side side of the street. Take a left on Zuni.

Take a right on W 43rd Ave then a left on Bryant St. At W 39th Ave, turn east (left).

At Tejon, take a right and then a left into the first alley. Walk in the ally until you come to the Troy Chavez Garden. Walk through the garden, reading the signs and artwork, making sure you see the tiles on the columns at the entry.  Exit the garden at Shoshone, turning north.

Take a right on W 40th Ave, then a left on the alley between Osage and Navajo, then a right on W 41st Ave.

At Navajo, head north, noticing the artwork in the street and the gorgeous Horace Mann school, now Trevista. At W 42nd St, take a right and return back to Lipan where you began this 3.5-mile amble.

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

Sloan Lake Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

Sloan's Leaky Lake

Let's first start with what the official name of this neighborhood is. Well, actually, we have to go back to before that...it was 1860 and Thomas M Sloan decided he needed some water for his farm. So he drilled a well, and "supposedly" punched a whole into the unknown aquifer below. It sprang a leak, and 24 hours later, the lake was born.

What's It Really Called?

It had names. Sloan's Leak, Sloan Lake, and Sloan's Lake. For decades, the names interchanged. In the early 1990s, the local residents gathered together a petition for the name to officially be Sloan's Lake. The City of Denver then changed all the names designating the neighborhood to be Sloan's Lake Park. But someone forgot to tell the copy writer in the City, and thus, the City officially calls the neighborhood, "Sloan Lake." Since this blog is about tempting you with fun walks in all of Denver's official 78 neighborhoods, we'll go with Sloan Lake.

 It's Big

Thus, Sloan Lake neighborhood's boundaries are 29th Avenue to the North, 17th Avenue to the South, Federal Boulevard to East, and Sheridan Boulevard to the West. The lake is the largest in the City, encompassing both Compass Lake and Sloan Lake for a total of 177 acres. The surrounding park around the lake makes the entire area be Denver's second largest park. But, now that the Northfield Parks are open in north Stapleton, I wonder if its second in size will change.

Ostrich-drawn Cinderella Carriages?

Lots of fun has been had on the lake. From the historic Manhattan Beach, which housed circles acts, ostrich-drawn Cinderella sleds, elephants, and even flying human cannons, to pleasure boats that cruised the lake yet ultimately sank, Sloan Lake has invited Denverites to its shores for over a century. Now the banks have sail boats, paddle boats, and if it ever gets cold enough again for the lake to freeze for consecutive days, ice skating.

A Square, a Victorian and a WWII...

Surrounding the lake is a neighborhood that has waxed and waned with the times. Surprisingly, the homes on each block can vary from recent moderns to Denver Squares with WWII housing sprinkled in between. One block had a modern on the corner, two WWII houses in the middle, a Denver Square, a brick Victorian, and a Santa Fe adobe style home.

And a Centrally Located School

The original high school turned junior high is actually outside of the official Denver boundaries of Sloan Lake. But an elementary school with vibrant playground walls sits in the middle of the neighborhood, anchoring the neighborhood northeast of the lake.

Despite its un-agreed-upon name, our 3.3 mile walk took us through this fun and architecturally intriguing neighborhood, Sloan Lake.

The Route:

Start at 3798 W 29th Ave. Be sure to pay attention to the parking signs. Walk west to Osceola St and turn left. Continue to W 26th Ave, take a right.

At Perry St, take a left, then a right on W 25th Ave. Cross the grassy park to the lake, and walk along the lake to the southeast. You'll pass the marina, the area where Manhattan Beach was, and a white stone statue of a pelican.

Enjoy the lake to W 20th Ave. Go west to Newton St. Take a left on Newton and then a right on W 21st Ave.

At Irving St go left (north) to W 24th Ave and then take a right on Julian St. Take a left on W 25th Ave.

You'll come to the neighborhood school. Take a right on King St, enjoying the artwork along the playground's wall. Cross 26th, continuing north on King.

At W 29th Ave, take a left, returning back to your start.
Click here to see the route, map, and turn by turn directions.

Regis Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

Regis Urban Hiking Denver

Sitting on the hill just north of I70 is Regis, a neighborhood that broke itself off from its southern celery farmers in Berkeley. Bounded by 52nd St to the north, Federal to the east, Harlan to the west and I70 to the south, Regis separated from Berkeley in order to become its own enclave of higher society.

Custom Homes and Homes for Everyone

Regardless of the reasons to live in Regis, it's a great neighborhood for an interesting urban hike of over 4 miles. Originally, William Lang built 35 beautiful custom homes to attract the middle class away from the smokey bottoms of the Platte and away from snooty Cap Hill. Although only a few of those original homes still stand, the neighborhood's big features now are the Willis Case Golf Course and Regis University.

And a University, Too!

The Jesuit school, Regis University, attracts students from all backgrounds and religions. Although it was originally Las Vegas College in New Mexico and the College of the Sacred Heart in Morrison, it eventually found its home here by way of a land donation from the controversial and fantastical  John Brisben Walker. Upon its move north of Berkeley, the school became Regis College and then Regis University, ultimately becoming the namesake of the neighborhood.

But Wait, There's More!

Also within the neighborhood is the old El Jezbel Shrine (now turning into condos) and a Buddist monastery as well. Around every corner is a surprise. We even found a shoe garden!

Across from Regis sits the antique-school-turned-housing, Berkeley School apartments. At one time, a tunnel ran from the main school building to its northern expansion, and the children practiced bomb sheltering in the tunnel. Each class had its own spot along the wall to gather to wait out the bomb drills.

Fun and Frivolity

To the very west end of the neighborhood is Inspiration Point--known by many Denver teenagers. During the day, the views across the front range hold imaginations of adventure and travel. Mayor Speer created the area as part of his City Beautiful campaign.

This walk takes you through some of the major and a few minor features of this interesting neighborhood.

The Route:

Start at 5000 Tennyson. Walk to the west along 50th where it ends at the El Jezbel temple, now becoming a condo complex and is across from the Willis Case Golf Course club house. Return back to Tennyson and head south.

Pass some of the original homes built in the former North Denver nee Berkeley Hills nee Regis. Take a left on W 49th Ave, walking past more beautiful, original homes. At Newton St, take a left, heading north.

At W 50th Ave, take a right then a left on Lowell Blvd. Notice the old Berkeley School on the left and then cross over Lowell into the Regis University Campus.

Make your way to the center of the campus to look north at the original Regis building. Read the various plaques, then make your way behind the building. Just to the north and west of the building is a small foot path that takes you to a secluded, private area. In this area is a small table and a statue of Jesus Christ. The statue has a very different perspective of how Jesus appeared. When finished, return to the south of the historic building.

Make your way easterly across the main campus courtyard to the Admissions Building. Just to the north of the building is a statue to James Joyce, and it's worth an interesting stop.

When finished thinking about the Dubliners and other Joyce novels, continue south to the front of the campus and enjoy additional religion-inspired artwork. When finished exploring the campus, exit it on W 50th Ave, continuing to the east.

Take a right on Grove St, then a right on W 49th Ave.

Take a left on Julian Street then a right on W 48th Ave. Pass the monastery. At the end of 48th, there is a little sidewalk path that sneaks to Lowell Blvd.

At Lowell, turn north (right). Pass the famous Goldspot Brewing Company and the Noshery. As you continue north along this street where the trolley once ran, also notice the old and older gas stations along the way. Take a left on W 50th Ave.

Take a right on Meade St. Take a left on W 51st St. You'll be walking in the newer section of Regis, dating from the 1950s or so. Take a left on Raleigh St. Watch out for pirates!

Take a right on W 50th returning back to your start.
Click here to see the route, map, and turn by turn directions.

What did you enjoy most about this walk? Let me know!

~See you on the trail



Highland Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

Everyone from Everywhere

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Everyone wants to be in Highland (notice, no "s".) Residents call it "Highlands", "LoHi", "North Denver"....But no matter what folks call it, the City of Denver calls it Highland--the area of West 38th Avenue to the north, a Union Pacific Railroad line on the east, the South Platte River to the southeast, Speer Boulevard on the south, and Federal Boulevard on the west.

Pure and Clean

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Highland includes Potter Highlands, Scottish Highlands, West Highlands, East Highlands, and Highlands. Originally, though, William Larimer, Jr named it "Highland." The area--across the river from the bottom lands, where it was smoggy and dirty--offered clean, puritan living. Ruth Eloise Wiberg points this out in her book Rediscovering Northwest Denver, "They were proud of their gardens, their trees, their churches, their pure air, their pure water, their pure morals—especially their pure morals.”

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Many Denverites have been to Highland by way of REI, Confluence Park, Little Man Ice Cream or Olinger's. But the neighborhood spreads north and east, including North High School and some of the original tuberculosis homes. The original Highlands Masonic Temple is in the neighborhood as well as countless Victorian homes, historic register homes and red stone homes. Many famous Denver founders lived in the neighborhood, too.

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Each block holds something fun to see. From old homes to new scrapes and everything in between, Highland showcases all price ranges and all styles. There is something for everyone--but the prices in Highland have skyrocketed in the past few years. Whereas folks eventually moved to Highland for the clean air, now folks move for the quick access to downtown.

Old Next to New with Great Downtown Views

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Walking through Highland, you'll find many locals out walking their dogs, boutiques waiting for your dollars, and homeowners tidying up beautiful and unique yards. Occasionally, you'll find small parks with small tot lots, and if you want to get off the hill, you can go down to the Platte River for a meander. Regardless of where you go when walking in Highland, there's always something interesting to see.

The Route:

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Start at 3700 Lipan St. Walk west on W 37th Ave and turn left on Alcott St. Take a right on W 36th Ave. Take a left on Bryant St. Take a right on W 35th Ave.

After crossing Elati St, sneak up behind the Highlands Masonic Temple and take a look at its facade facing Federal. When finished, return back to Elati, turn south.

Take a left on W 33rd St, take a right on Bryant St. Notice the tuberculosis home on the corner. Continue to Vallejo and take a right. Take a left on W 28th Ave, notice the homes particularly on the south side of the street. At one time, some were fraternity homes!

Take a left on Central St, take a left on 15th St. Take a right on Boulder St. Take a left on 16th St. Grab an ice cream at Little Man Ice Cream, then continue to the right on Tejon St, heading north.

At W 32nd St, take a right. Take a left on Shoshone. Take a right on W 35th Ave. Take a left on Quivas St, take a right on W 37th Ave and continue back to your starting place.
Click here to see the route, map, and turn by turn directions.