Elegant Country Club

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With a name like Country Club, expectations for walking this Denver neighborhood might be pretty high. You won’t be disappointed. With several historic districts shaped within the official Country Club boundary from 8th Ave to Alameda, Downing to University, every corner drips with its own unique blend of understated posh. Here’s the story of a great Country Club urban hike.

Big, Bigger, Biggest

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From giant castles originally owned by Mary Dean Reed to less big homes like that of Denver Mayor Speer to petite doll house homes, walking through Country Club requires lots of gawking. Not one home looks like another. The Denver Country Club and its golf course sit square in the middle of the entire neighborhood, although the southern end seems a bit cut off from its historic northern neighbors.

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Turrets Anyone?

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Denver’s best architects, including Olmstead, Fisher and Hoyt, did some of their best work here. Examples abound on every street. You can walk up and down each block and not find a repeater.

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How did “Country Club” come about? A group of wealthy Denverites organized the Overland Park Club (see Walking Overland and Across the River in Denver) and soon changed its name to Denver Country Club. In 1902, the 120 acres of wheat field along Cherry Creek were made into the sporting club. Needing a place to live, these same folks created the Fourth Avenue Real Estate Company and purchased land north of 1st, which ultimately become Country Club neighborhood.

And Many Denver Squares

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Divided into several different areas depending on the size of the home, the rich and Denver famous built their homes, making an L-shaped pocket of castles and mansions. Squaring out the neighborhood in the other L-shape are many homes in the architectural style of Denver Squares and a few bungalows, many as charming but maybe not as spectacular as their larger neighbors.

Historic Gates

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While walking through the neighborhood, you’ll see the historic entry gates of the four distinct areas (Park Club Place, Country Club Place, Country Club Annex, and Park Club Lane, chronologically.) The western half of the neighborhood made the Historic Register first, followed by Country Club Historic District. A total of 380 homes make up the original L-shape. Additionally, there’s a 27-page Design Guidelines book all residences must adhere to when changing their original structures.

Doll House Row

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After getting your fill of large and grandiose, you’ll want to sneak onto Williams between 4th and 5th. (By the way, 2nd Ave doesn’t exist in this neighborhood due to Mayor Speer wanting more backyard!) In this quaint block, you’ll find several original, smaller homes, affectionately known as Doll House Row.

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It’s easy to get lost in the twisty-turny, misaligned roads in Country Club. So if you get off the route below, don’t worry. Just keep walking and enjoy the view of this Country Club urban hiking adventure. Note that the official boundary of the neighborhood is south of the actual golf course, but you can only enjoy the golf course with a member.

The route (click for interactive route):

Start at 747 Williams St in Little Cheesman Park. Head south to E 7th Ave, turn right. At Franklin turn left and walk to 6th Ave. Turn right.

At Humboldt St, turn left. Turn right on E 5th Ave. At Lafayette St, turn left. At E 4th Ave, turn left.

At Humboldt St again, turn right. You’ll pass 375 and 368 Humboldt, notice the two houses. Both were built by Hoyt, who also built Red Rocks and other homes in the neighborhood. Both houses are very distinct and different from each other.

Continue south on Humboldt to the corner of 3rd and Humboldt. At the NE corner sits a large, white brick house built for Mayor Speer. Rumor has it that he wanted a larger yard, so he moved 2nd St. The house was originally red brick and was recently painted white.

Go behind Speer’s house and walk up the alley to 4th Ave. Turn right, and you’ll start seeing the gates for this section of Country Club. Enter right through the original gate to the Country Club on Franklin. Go south on Franklin.

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Admire the large homes on both sides of the street. At 1st, turn left. Notice the Denver Country Club across the street. Turn left on Gilpin Street.

Take a right on E 4th Ave and continue east following the not-quite-aligned 4th Ave to the east through the traffic circles.

At Circle Drive, take a left. You’ll quickly notice the large mansion on the left at 475 Circle Drive. Once owned by bank/ranching/mining baron who died and left the property to his wife, Mary Dean Reed, the interior mantel actually has dwarfs carved into it. Don’t miss the garden emblem on the garden house at the south side of the property. Ms. Reed commissioned the house at 505 Circle Drive for her sister.

Continue around the circle to 545 Circle Dr, which is where architect Hoyt lived, and continuing south to 515 Race is where that home was donated to the University of Denver Chancellor to live until it was sold after his death.

Take a right on 5th. At Williams, turn left and walk down Doll House Row. Make a u-turn, turning north, taking Williams back to where you started at Little Cheesman Park, completing your 2.5 mile urban hike.

Clubbing through Denver’s Country Club and Supporting Denver By Foot

If you’ve enjoyed this info about the High Line Canal Trail and how to hike it, 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, or even along during our lock down.

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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See you on the trail!