3 Great Denver Hikes for Music Lovers

Three Great Denver Walks for Music Lovers

Denver draws some of the best musicians in the industry. It's been happening for almost a hundred years. From the first performance of Ave Maria at Red Rocks to the giant Garth Brooks show at Mile High Stadium, Denver attracts musicians and music lovers alike.

Yet even though Denver brings musicians here, it has also provided the background for great musicians to rise out of its neighborhoods and onto the stage.

Take the neighborhoods of Whittier, Five Points and Baker. Home to music halls and dance beats, these neighborhoods have held musical court long before Mile High Stadium and the Pepsi Center played tunes.

Here are three great urban hikes in Denver that musicians and music lovers will like.

Whittier Neighborhood

In the Whittier neighborhood, you'll find the George C Morrison Park. It's a linear park along Martin Luther King, Jr, Blvd which connects you to other wonderful parks that feature portions of Denver's African-American history.

Violinist and musician, George Morison, Sr, impacted the jazz scene in Five Points while living in Whittier. He grew up in Boulder, graduated from the Columbia Conservatory of Music in Chicago, and performed with  Cuthbert Byrd, Desdamona and Leo Davis, Hattie McDaniel, Eugene Montgomery, Theodore Morris, Jimmy Lunceford, and Andy Kirk.

Morrison also gave back to the community through free music lessons to the kids at Whittier Elementary, Cole Junior High, and Manual High Schools. When walking in the neighborhood, you might want to pass by where he lived at 2558 Gilpin Street.  This home became a gathering spot for many famous musicians, including Count Bassie, Jelly Roll Morton, Nat King Cole and other celebrated musicians.

If you've worked up an appetite walking through Whittier, stop in at the Whittier Cafe and get a Denver Egg Burger.

Whittier Walking Map (click for interaction)

From Whittier, head over to Five Points.

Five Points

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Five Points is a giant neighborhood that includes Curtis Park Ballpark and RiNo, which aren't "technically" neighborhoods according to the City of Denver. But for a music lover, the center of Five Points is the place to uncover.

At the Five Points intersection, where you can catch the light rail going downtown, the beat of the neighborhood is itching to drum again. The Rossonian, once the heartbeat of Five Points and filled with be-bopping jazz and energetic sounds that attracted some of the best jazz musicians of the '20-60's, sits across from a wonderful mural telling Five Points' story and the musical impact the "Harlem of the West" made on the industry.

The City of Denver has a love-hate relationship with Five Points, that, over time, has morphed it into an interesting eclectic set of homes filled with the rich and the poor living right next to each other. On one street you'll find Neal Cassady's father's barber shop across the street from what was once the Snowden, his boyhood home, that has been replaced by million-dollar town homes. Across from it you'll find a refuge for homeless women which is diagonal from an actors' studio. You can also read many excerpts about the music scene and the area from Denver lover, Jack Kerouac's, On the Road, or native son, Neal Cassady's, First Third.

Sandwiched on blocks full of residences, you'll find fabulous places to eat. The Curtis Park Deli has the best smoked trout sandwich I've ever eaten, and around the corner is the restored Curtis Park Creamery, a long-standing, dine-out only, Mexican cafe serving up the neighborhood's best tamales.

Five Points Walking Map (click for interaction)

After Five Points, head to Red Rocks.

Red Rocks

Set between the famous Ship Rock and Creation Rock, the Red Rocks Amphitheater has welcomed stair-climbing, live-performance music lovers to its 6,450 feet of elevation since 1941. Infamous performances include the Beatles, U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Harry Belafonte, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, the Eagles, Santana, Willie Nelson, Journey, Grateful Dead, Tears for Fears, Kiss, Bon Jovi, Sting, Stevie Nicks, B. B. King, Nora Jones, Duran Duran, and DeVotchKa, among others.

Of course, you can climb the amphitheater or hike the 1.5-mile loop through the seven rock formations, and you can visit two stop-worthy music showcases in the park. The first is the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in the Trading Post, which tells musical performance history with an emphasis on John Denver. Or, you can climb to the top of the amphitheater and enjoy the Red Rocks Visitor Center which houses great artifacts and stories of the famous performances of this infamous outdoor theater.

To enjoy your day fully, begin your day with the Trading Post Trail, stop in at the Trading Post to grab a snack and see the Hall of Fame, then climb the amphitheater to the Visitors Center. Return to your car and head to Morrison; grab a bite at The Cow Eatery and get the Mac & Cheese Grilled Cheese.

Red Rocks Walking Map (click for interaction)

Do you have a walk to add to the best places for musicians to walk in Denver? Post about it and tag it with #denverbyfoot so I can see!

See you on the trail,

~Chris


Three Great Denver Hikes with Kids

Three Great Hikes to Do in Denver with Kids

Sometimes all you want to do is get outside and go for a hike. But loading up the kids, the snacks, the gear, and then the drive.

Ugh the drive.

To get to the trailhead...all of this can suck the wind out of your sails. So why drive an hour to a trailhead when there are many great hikes right here in Denver for you and the kids. Granted, these hikes might not have steep climbs and rocky trails, but they do have great outdoor spaces, trees, and nature. And you don't have to drive forever!

Here are three great hikes in Denver to do with kids.

1. Star K Ranch Loops

Fresh air and fun loops await you at Star K Ranch.

Tucked away in the northwest corner of Aurora, abutting Denver, is the delectable and fun Star K Ranch. Within it is the Morrison Nature Center. Together, this location is the perfect place for a local getaway for family outings. Start in the Nature Center and touch and feel your way through the flora and fauna of the park. Learn about the elk, deer, and foxes that live in the park and their flying friends that soar overhead. Then head out on the trails. The best way to enjoy the park is to do the loop that leaves the Nature Center, heads to Sand Creek, follows Sand Creek, and then returns to the Nature Center. You can do short little one-mile loops or make them as big as three miles. For an even bigger adventure, do the 5-mile Norfolk Glen Loop.

Trailhead: 16002 E Smith Rd, Aurora, CO
Restrooms: Yes
Bring: Water, snacks, sunscreen.
Dogs: Allowed on leashes. Please scoop poop.
Grab a bite: CoraFaye's Cafe, 16251 E Colfax Ave Ste 210, Aurora, CO (get the coconut creek cheesecake!)

2. Ruby Hill to Grant Frontier Park

Conduct an outdoor concert at Grant Frontier Park.

Ready for a bit of fun, urban hiking, and nature play? Start at Ruby Hill Park. Depending on the age of your kids, pick the right playground for them to warm up and get started practicing their outdoor voices. Then tie their shoes and urban hike by going west on Florida Ave. Cross over the train tracks and S Platte River Drive, then loop down to the Platte River Trail to go south along the river. Follow on the trail to the south for just about a mile and you'll reach the super fun Grant Frontier Village Park. Here kids can practice their gold mining, play outdoor musical theater, and hunt for crawdads in the oxbow through the park. They can even drive a wagon! When you're ready, follow your footsteps back to Ruby Hill Park for just over 2 miles of walking and thousands of steps of playing.

Trailhead: 1200 W Florida Ave, Denver, CO
Restrooms: Yes at Ruby Hill
Bring: Water, snacks, sunscreen.
Dogs: Allowed on leashes. Please scoop poop.
Grab a bite: GB Fish and Chips, 1311 S Broadway, Denver, CO (get the clam chowder!)

3. Bible Park Loop

Hike a nice 2.5 mile loop at Bible Park then catch a frog!

A large shady park in southeast Denver is a fun place to go owl spotting and geocaching. You can park in the center of the park and then work your way out to its perimeter where you can hike a horseshoe shape around the edge of the park along the High Line Canal Trail. In the middle of the park are ball fields, tennis courts, exercise gyms and playgrounds with a sandbox. Along the trail is a luscious canopy of cottonwoods where you can spot squirrels, owls, and hawks along with possum, raccoon and fox tracks, if not the animals themselves! Starting in the center of the park and hiking the horseshoe will clock about 2.5 miles.

Trailhead: 6802 E Yale Ave, Denver, CO
Restrooms: Yes
Bring: Water, snacks, sunscreen.
Dogs: Allowed on leashes. Please scoop poop.
Grab a bite: La Fagota, 5670 E Evans Ave, Denver, CO (get the taquitos de camaron and an horchata!)

Where are you hiking with your kids in Denver? Send me a note, post below, and tag your photos with #denverbyfoot so I can see your fun time!

See you on the trail,

~Chris

PS For more ideas of where to hike in Denver, get my book Best Urban Hikes: Denver.


denver peacemaker

5 Denver Peacemakers

Denver Peacemakers--It's a Movement

denver peacemakers

Walking is the platform for life. As a walking leader of casual walks, walking tours, walking vacations, and day-to-day walking, I find that walking is the truth serum of love and joy in my life. I've always been a walker--starting with the parent-mandated walk to the school bus stop--but it wasn't until recently that I've realized something more about my walking leadership.

I'm creating peace.

Through walking, I find that people connect with themselves, their environment, and others. One of my regular walkers says, "Swell people walk." But it's more than that. While on foot, shoulder to shoulder with friends and strangers, people open up. They talk about their joys, their pains, their curiosities, their differences, their similarities. Walking's environment breaks down barriers and fears, opening up peace.

In Denver, this peacemaking isn't just me. There's an entire culture of peacemakers--folks who work in peace even though their titles may not say so--they are driving this movement. Let's take a look at four of them.

The Walk2Connect Walking Co-op

denver peacemakers

Yes, you read that right. A walking co-op, the first of its kind. Six small business owners came together on the platform of walking to engage the community. With 40 "free" walks along the Front Range every week to longer, fee-based ambles most weekends, the unique formula and training the member-owners and the 250 volunteers use awakens the peace within over 9100 people annually.

Nicole Hugenin, Wild Dream Walks

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Positioned squarely in the gift economy, this peacemaker runs a dream investment business. Her "Dreamers," from 6-96 years old, exercise their dream muscles with her. She helps them communicate and express their dreams and then works with them to have their dreams come true. Her Wild Dream Walks business brings peace to those who have dreams that they haven't yet fulfilled.

Mayu Sanctuary Co-op

denver peacemaker

Another first of its kind, this mediation co-op invites people into their space to mediate. They just sit, stay calm, and internally live for a few moments so they can externally live in peace. Mayu brings mediation to anyone who has ever thought about it, providing guidance to people seeking, looking, and living.

Carlyn Shaw, Strangers to Friends

denver peacemaker

Do you have more strangers in your world than friends? Carlyn, in her unique style, has created Strangers to Friends, and her goal is to make friends with the world. What better way to make peace than to get to know those around you? Because it's the silence and the dissonance among strangers that brings strife and pain. One Happy Hour at a time, Carlyn takes peace on squarely in its own ring.

Peace Is Here in Denver

Here in Denver, peace is happening. Whether through walks, mediation, or gatherings, peacemakers successfully bring people together and spread inner happiness to thousands annually. Will you join us?


5 Romantic Things to Do in Denver without Sitting Down

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If you are in Denver for a little romance, looking for some fun things to do with your love or your friends, here are 5 Romantic Things to Do in Denver without Sitting Down.

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1.  Romantic Date Walk in Denver

This 2-3 mile walk ambles through downtown Denver. Starting at the historic Fisher and Daniels Clock Tower, admission to the walk includes a private tour of the tower. Next, the tour tastes some Colorado-made chocolate, ambles through Union Station, and finds some fresh flowers to share with each other. The tour continues with a walk by some of the romantic art and street art of Denver, finishing back at the clock tower.

2. Grab Some Skates for $2 and Do Some Laps

Grab your love and venture to the Southwest Airlines-sponsored, outdoor skating rink at the corner of 16th Street Mall and Arapahoe. Once you've worn your ankles out, grab a cuppa at the Corner Bakery, and then amble along 16th Street Mall. Lately, pianists have been crooning from the local pianos and saxophonists have been blowing. What will you hear?

3.  Declare your Love of Denver to the Mayor

Together with Walk Denver and a variety of alternative transportation agencies, folks will gather and move through Denver's streets raising awareness of the Vision Zero initiative to make our streets safer. Sign the valentine with your commitment to help Denver become a safer place to walk.
5 things to do in denver

4.  Give out Some Free Hugs, Chocolate, or Flowers.

A group of folks who want to share their love with strangers will be walking throughout downtown giving free hugs to anyone who wants one. They will also give out donated chocolate, flowers, or whatever else might express a no-strings-attached love feeling.

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5.  Visit the Colorado Crush for a Visually Stimulating Experience

Denver's street art is popping with variety, interest and freshness. Walk through the alleys of RiNo and find some of the romantic street art of Denver which can change on a daily basis. See if you can find the small hearts with different faces showing up all over the alleys of RiNo.

There you have it! 5 Romantic Things to Do In Denver without Sitting Down. Which ones will you do this romantic weekend?


Hiking with Bison near Denver

hiking with bison near denver

Hiking with Bison

Way before Denver appeared, millions of bison roamed the great prairie. And then died. Without going into the history of the bison massacre, let's focus on how the bison are coming back. These 1400-pound beauties have found small niches throughout the Denver area to roam, and there's even one place to hike with them. More hikes are coming in 2016. Here's where to go hiking with bison near Denver, Colorado.

hiking with bison near denver

Click here for an interactive Map of where the bison are near Denver

  1. Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Still within the city limits and sandwiched between the Stapleton neighborhood and the new Denver airport roams 80 head of bison on the Wildlife Refuge. Currently, the Refuge has the only actual trail you can hike to see the bison. If you're lucky, the bison will be in the eastern side of the Refuge and you'll be able to see them from the short, loop Discovery Trail that leaves from the Visitor Center. If you don't see them by hiking the 1/3 mile, sand/pebble loop, or the 1 mile trail toMary Lake, you'll have to drive the Refuge or catch the Refuge tour shuttle.
  2. Genesee Park. The city of Denver proudly owns a bison herd which anyone can see from the I-70 exit #256. Park on the south side and look toward the south where the herd generally hangs out in the winter time. On December 1, the park closes Genesee Road, enabling you to walk at your own risk. Eventually the park plans to turn the road into a trail. Look for the upgrades in the summer of 2016. On the north side of the interstate, you'll also be able to park and overlook the bison. Here, too, there are plans to connect the trail from Denver to Glenwood Springs, possibly giving views of the bison as well. Look for these changes in 2016 as well.
  3. Daniel's Park. Like Genesee, there are no real trails designed to get to the bison. Sadly, it's a drive and see adventure, or you can risk your safety by walking along the side of the road. The good news is that trails are coming as well in 2016, so keep your ears open for future announcements.
  4. Finally, Fort Collins just got its first herd in November at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area. Again, you can only see them from the road, but trails are also planned. Look for those trails, also, in 2016.

Bison roamed here, and it's great to see conservation efforts growing throughout the Plains states and especially in and around Denver. For a great walk that covers the history of the bison, the rise of the Stapleton airport and neighborhood, the cleaning up of the Superfund site that turned into the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge and the return of the bison, join me on my Bisons, Bombs, and BiPlanes walk, which I do quarterly. Check the calendar for the next walk.