Walking Overland and Across the River in Denver
When two, giant, six-lane roads dissect your neighborhood, sometimes it’s hard to find your identity. But with Overland neighborhood, this community has managed to find a way to stay connected in west Denver. Blocked in by the South Platte River to its west, Broadway to the east, Mississippi to the north and Yale to the south, Overland’s got a narrow but interesting geography to tackle.
Home to the Original Denver, Montana City!
What started as Montana City, the first platted city on the eastern slope of the Rockies, then became the City of South Denver, and ultimately Overland, this area has had its share of history. A gold strike followed by famous rail lines, a city full of the rough and tumble troubles of a frontier town, and then a town that wanted to clean itself up, Overland has had a race track, a Superfund site, and even the beginnings of the Denver Country Club.
On this walk, you must visit Grant-Frontier Park. Named after the children and teachers at Grant Middle School who discovered and researched this site, they uncovered this location as the first along the Front Range to pan for gold! Prior to the Auraria settlement just down river, gold diggers from Lawrence, Kansas, arrived with big hopes and empty pockets. After hunting for gold and building several rows of cabins here, they abandoned their new Montana City and headed north to the more successful Auraria.
If you enjoy the interactivity of Grant Frontier, make your way north on the Platte River to Johnson Habitat or Pasquinel’s Landing Parks. They have the same spirit of adventure and would make a super outing on another day.
In the park, you’ll find a Calistoga wagon, an outdoor orchestra pit, a sluice for mining, and a meditation swirl. Kids will love the oxbow from the Platte that snakes into the park.
Over Land to Overland Park
Although a small park tucked secretly in a corner between the Platte River and the fun driving range of AquaGolf where you tee floating golf balls into watery buckets, the small lake and pier are super places to take a break. It was here that they auctioned off part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show’s artifacts. Maybe you’ll hear the ghosts of the racetracks, the auctioneer’s voices, or the original duffers in Denver yelling, “Fore!” Interesting signs about the environmental history of the area add to the intrigue.
Transit-Oriented Development and a Fun SoBo!
Now with organized transit-oriented development, the bustling SoBo (South Broadway) development, and an attempt to remember its history, Overland manages to highlight its best (the Platte River trail, Overland Park, the Overland Golf Course, Grant Frontier Park, and a great light rail stop.) You can learn some history on the great vignettes posted around the light rail.
An Ambling Adventure
While trying to walk the boundaries of Overland can be difficult and it takes a little imagination to cross Santa Fe and Evans safely, there’s a great urban hike just waiting to be walked. You’ll amble through industry, commercial, rail, trails, paths, sidewalks, homelessness, and urban areas all along our 3.5 mile walk. It’s an adventure more than an amble with plenty of interesting art and views along the way….kinda rough and tumble like Overland’s history.
The Route (click for interactive map):
Start at 2303 S Cherokee St. Go west to S Delaware and head north. You’ll pass the Evans light rail station. Be sure to read the signs about Overland’s history, pointing out famous buildings and landmarks of yesteryear.
Continue north under Evans, take a right on W Ashbury, then a left on S Cherokee, right on E Jewell, a left on S Bannock, a right on W Mexico Ave, a left on S Acoma St, then a left on W Iowa.
Be sure you’re on the north side of Iowa to walk the sidewalk under the light rail. Cross over Santa Fe at the light, then turn north on Santa Fe.
Walk parallel to the golf course. At W Florida, cross over Florida then take a left. You’ll pass the Aqua Golf then see a path into Overland Park.
Go north on the Overland Park path, taking you through the park, rounding yourself around to the west, looping through the park. You’ll end up back at the intersection of Florida and the Platte River.
Cross south across Florida onto the Platte River trail. Continue south between the Overland Park golf course and the Platte River down to Grant Frontier Park. Enjoy the park.
Exit the park to the east and go north on S Galapago street, enjoying this quite little neighborhood tucked into Overland’s corner. At Evans, take a left.
Notice the great fish painted along the sidewalk barrier on the north side of the street. At Cherokee St, take a right, then take a right on Iliff, returning you back to your start.
Overlanding in Overland 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.
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See you on the trail!