A Quaint Urban Hike through Athmar Park Denver

A Quaint Urban Hike through Athmar Park

Quaint and Quiet Athmar Park

Tucked away just south of Alameda and west of I25 sits a quaint neighborhood subtly making its way into the 21st century, Athmar Park.

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Founded by two developers who annexed smaller neighborhoods into Athmar Park, and named after their wives by using the first couple letters of each first name, this mostly rectangular-shaped neighborhood remembers its early settlement and 1965 flood history. You’ll find mosaics in the neighborhood parks reflecting the flooding tragedy, and you’ll throw back to the 60s in the Athmar Park shopping center. Homes from the 1940-60s dominate the character of the neighborhood, although older homes decorate a few blocks and corners.

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The Athmar Park Parks

In the neighborhood are several parks; Aspgren, Huston Lake, Vanderbilt Park and Habitat Park. Click on these links to see videos about the parks.

Aspgren Park video

Huston Lake video

Vanderbilt Park video

Aspgren: Although this park, named after Clifford Aspgren a former Colorado State Congressman, does not have many amenities, it plays an important role in telling the story of the 1965 flood through Athmar Park. Here, you’ll find three tables with mosaic tops. These tops tell the story of how the community came together after the flood. Three additional tables are in Huston Lake Park just to the west. At Aspgren Park, the three tables hold special memories. The first commemorate the 1965 flood, the second references love, and the third is a modern design.

Huston Lake: With stunning views across the lake to the west of the Rockies, Huston Park, the jewel of the Athmar Park neighborhood welcomes you. Named after  N.K. Huston, an original landowner in the area, the swampy area was originally called “Frenchie’s Lake” and was where neighbors gathered to ice skate and swim.  Now, the park’s amenities attract football, soccer, baseball, softball and basketball players. Tennis lovers volley in the courts, and walkers and runners scoot around the lake for a mile loop. In the summer, grab your horseshoes or bring your camera to photograph the flower beds and bird life. The playgrounds welcome small and big kids, and the fitness area finds folks doing chin ups and sit ups.

Vanderbilt Park: People come here to play ball. Whether for softball or baseball, their team and their leagues enjoy great evenings and afternoons of batter up. With diamonds that sit opposite each other, the hit ball can go almost as far as it wants.

Where is Athmar Park?

Athmar Park's neighborhood boundaries are North: W Alameda Ave, West: S Federal Blvd, South: W Mississippi Ave, East: The South Platte River (roughly I25).

A Good Curated Urban Hike through Athmar Park

The best way to get to know Athmar Park is to walk it. The neighborhood sits on a hill, so you'll have some ups and downs to enjoy as you meander though its streets. You'll find sidewalks and relatively calm streets that are easy to navigate. This route takes you by the major parks, near the famous mosaic tables, and by a few of the oldest houses in the neighborhood.

The Athmar Park Route:

Start at Huston Lake, named after an early resident, making your way east to S Vallejo St. Turn left (north). Look to your left and enjoy the fantastic view over the lake toward the Rockies. Take a right on W Exposition Ave, crossing Tejon. Take a left on S Shoeshone St, catching spectacular views of downtown Denver. At W Virginia St, take a left one block to S Tejon St and then go right. Walk up S Tejon St to W Nevada Place, take a right.

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Notice the home at 1597 W Nevada Place. Built in 1912, this is one of a few remaining original farm homes. Most farms in this area harvested celery and wheat. Continue along Nevada to 1395 W Nevada Place, another home from that time period. Turn right on S Navajo Street.

Pass St Rose of Lima Church on the right. The 1965 flood completely engulfed the church, moving its way all the way west through the 1400 block. Continue up the hill to Aspgren Park. Named after a Colorado State Representative from Hilltop who served in the House in the 50s, this park has 3 picnic tables on its western end. Pay close attention to the mosaics on the tables. One commemorates the 1965 flood, the second shows hearts and reflects love, the third embraces a modern pattern.

Continue to W Exposition Ave, take a right. Take a left on S Pecos. Take a right on W Ohio St. Take a left on S Quivas St. Take a right on W Kentucky Ave. Take a left on S Tejon. Before approaching Mississippi, look to your left at the 1959 Athmar Park sign in front of the shopping center.

Turn right on Mississippi and notice the Athmar Park library. Moved into this restored church in 1999, admire the sculpture, kinetic wind sculpture by Robert Mangold, which originally showed at the Denver Art Museum.

Continue west to Zuni Street. Return back to Lake Huston and notice the three picnic tables under the pine trees just to the east. These three also have mosaic tops commemorating: 1. The ladies of Valverde Presbyterian church who quilted here for 40 years, 2. The mountain view across the lake conceived by well-known Colorado oil painter and neighborhood resident, Brenda Hendrix,  and 3. A mosaic flower table created by Valverde Elementary school children.

When finished admiring the mosaics, take one last look at the lake. Originally called Frenchie’s Lake, this lake entertained swimmer and ice skaters year round in the mid 1950s.

Walking Athmar Park 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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Three Denver Neighborhoods to Walk with Great Mid-Century Architecture

Three Denver Neighborhoods to Walk with Great Mid-Century Architecture

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

Mid-century residential architecture, with its angular roof lines, spontaneous circles, and slanted fences, captured the imagination of several neighborhood developers in Denver. They couldn't put homes up fast enough as the post-WWII housing crunch in Denver demanded dense suburbs for relocating soldiers-turned-families.

Fortunately, many of these neighborhoods remain intact, and they provide great eye candy for super walks. Here, I list three neighborhoods stuffed with mid-century architecture and fantastic ~3-mile loops to walk within them. Take your own walking tour of mid-century homes. (Click on the neighborhood title to get a complete description of walk with map!)

Virginia Village

There are two mid-century neighborhoods in Virginia Village; they were built at a time when watermelon and asparagus fields gave way to affordable homes of the future. Before the growth spurt, the area was known as Sullivan. This area, a toll-call away from Denver, grew quickly, and soon the Denver Gardens and Cherry Creek Gardens subdivisions sported their futuristic "atomic" models.

The Harvey Parks

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Actually two neighborhoods which split at Yale, Harvey Park and Harvey Park South have local reputations for having the best collection of mid-century homes. Think George Jetson meets California. Influenced or actually designed by architect Cliff May, you can find gorgeous original, mostly single-story homes graced by carports and jutting angles. But what many people don't know is that the Harvey Parks have several lakes, an historic college campus, and homes ranging from the 40s to now.

University Hills/Wellshire

Actually, these are two neighborhoods abutting each other near University of Denver, but don’t confuse them with the University neighborhood. Sitting next to each other, University Hills and Wellshire contain a variety of homes from many decades, but the mid-century homes might be the most charming. A famous resident once lived near here, do you know who she was?

Did you have a good time on these walks? Which was your favorite? Post your pics and tag them with @denverbyfoot so I can see them!






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.

Sun Valley and Valverde Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

Sun Valley and Valverde Urban Hiking Denver

Sun Valley and Valverde sit next to each other on the west side of Denver along the Platte. There's a lot going on in these two neighborhoods. From large commercial cold-pack freezers to large income-qualified neighborhoods, walking through these two areas is not like anywhere else in Denver. Sun Valley's boundaries are W 20th Ave, W 6th Ave, Federal and the Platte River/I25. Valverde sits south with the same west/east boundaries, W 6th Ave is the northern boundary and W Alameda as its southern boundary. We walked 4.5 miles through this very interesting pair of neighborhoods. This is an interesting day hike near Denver, in fact it's right IN Denver.

Change is a'Coming

Sun Valley has mostly income-qualified homes. Most of the residents in Sun Valley rent; the remaining homes are mostly those that survived the 1965 flood that took out most of the neighborhood. The Weir Gulch runs through the neighborhood, ending its long east-west meander into the Platte River. In the northern area of the neighborhood falls the Lakewood Gulch, which also empties into the Platte. Between the two, the City wants to redevelop the entire area.

Some are calling Valverde the next RiNo. The City wants to rebuild the neighborhood to include a mixed-income residential area similar to other redevelopments. The residents will be offered the chance to live in other income-qualified housing or be given vouchers. The new units will have both market-rate pricing and workforce housing. Regardless of what happens, Sun Valley is the place to watch.

Packing It All In

In the meantime, south of Sun Valley is the food basket of Denver, Valverde. Once the land of celery and wheat farms like its southern neighbor, Athmar Park, Valverde is now where Denver's food distributes. Giant warehouses and their accompanying semis move turkeys, chickens, mushrooms, popsicles, Mexican food, and almost every other food in and out of freezers into their local retailers. Walking through Valverde awakens every smell you could think of--from sriracha to white bread!

When doing this 4.5 mile walk, be sure to follow basic pedestrian walking laws. Where there are no sidewalks, walk against traffic. With the large semis traversing the area, rails crisscrossing the warehouses, and many intersections, keep your eyes open and have a blast.

The Route:

Park at Valverde Park; the closest address is 1237 W Cedar Ave. Walk west to Raritan St. Take a right. At W Irvington Pl, take a left.

Take a right at Tejon St, being careful to walk against traffic. Tejon turns into W 2nd Ave. At Yuma, take a right. Follow Yuma as it turns into W 5th Ave. At Bryant St, take a right.

Go under 6th Ave. You'll exit Valverde and enter Sun Valley. At 7th Ave, take a left. At Canosa St, take a right and then at W 8th, take a left.

Go north on Decatur. Right before you get to the Sun Valley homes, you'll see a black asphalt trail going to your right. This is Weir Gulch. Walk on it just a hundred feet, then veer to your right. You'll be walking on the sidewalk between the Gulch and Sun Valley Homes.

Take a left on Bryant St. Walk through the neighborhood, and then take a right on W 11th Ave. Enjoy the public art on the south and east sides of Fairview Elementary. Take a right on 11th, walking towards the Platte.

At the Platte, take a right. You'll cross where the Weir flows into the Platte. Continue along the Platte River trail, taking each bridge as it comes along. You'll cross the Platte once, pass the old Denver Water building, and then you'll cross the Platte again. After the second bridge, you'll arrive back to where you started after passing Sun Spot, the large public art installation of a dog in front of the animal shelter.
Click here to see the route, map, and turn by turn directions.