Everyone from Everywhere
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.
One time the Town of Highland, residents voted in expensive facilities to keep up with their higher standard of living. They found these facilities a bit too expensive and sought annexation with Denver just 11 years later in 1896. The arrival of the tramway (which is now REI) helped connect Highland to Denver, eventually adding in several bridges over the Platte. Over time, various developers sought to create unique communities of unique names to draw particular interest to the area.
Pure and Clean
The Highland Neighborhood includes areas called Potter Highlands, Scottish Highlands (with curvy streets), West Highlands, East Highlands, and Highlands. Originally, though, William Larimer, Jr named this coveted space, “Highland.” The area–across the river from the bottom lands, where it was smoggy and dirty–offered clean, puritan living.
Ruth Eloise Wiberg points out the clean living 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.” This attitude drew many out of downtown Denver up into the higher areas of the city.
Outdoors with Clean Air
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, where visitors and residents convalesced in sun-baked rooms. 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 also have lived in the neighborhood, too.
Each Highland 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
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.
Squeezed onto a rhombus shape in the middle of Highland neighborhood in the Highlands, sits the very active Hirshorn Park. Those who live in LoHi will secretly tell you the baseball field, surrounded by a fence, is an unofficial dog park. Next to it is a lovely little playground for the smaller kids which squeezes in next to a basketball court. Most of the users enjoying Hirshorn have grabbed an ice cream at Little Man Ice Cream across the street and then amble into the park to sit and people watch. A great place for a walking date, you can venture afield into a bevy of good neighborhood places to eat. Parking can be tough, so arriving by foot or bike is your best bet.
Regardless of how you enjoy Highland, be sure to stop in many of the small, family-owned businesses to crab a cuppa, a pull, or a bite.
The Route (click for interactive map):
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.
Getting Happy in Highland and Supporting DenverByFoot
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, or even along during our lock down.
What did you like about this walk? Post it on Facebook and tag your posts with #denverbyfoot so I can find them.
See you on the trail!