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.
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: 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.
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!
Hi, DBF! Thanks for the nice feature on Athmar Park! I just wanted to mention three other art installations in the neighborhood that people may enjoy visiting. While at Huston Lake Park, visitors can find a wonderful ‘musical tree stump’ on the north side of the park along W. Ohio. Open the door, press a button, and listen to a local band! Also, further north in the Alameda Square Shopping Center at S. Zuni and W. Alameda, we host a beautiful Vietnamese War Memorial that overlooks a beautiful sculpture of flying geese by artist Fred Lunger. Also, If people enjoy beautiful architecture, the Mountain View subdivision of Athmar Park from S. Alcott west to Federal and W. Alameda south to W. Ohio is a charming enclave of early 1900 brick and stucco bungalows. When on the walking tour, when you go by 1597 W. Nevada Place… be sure and find the six fairy houses near the Little Free Library. Feel free to find a book at the library while you’re there! Thanks again for featuring Athmar Park in your walking tour!
Oh my gosh, Carol, thank you for writing this and adding more to the richness of Athmar Park. I love this! And the musical tree! I’ve been searching for the other ones ever since I found one in J Langston Boyd Park on Colorado Blvd. In my research, I discovered there are at least three. Now I know when one other one is. Thank you! Cheers!