Walking through Denver’s Artsy Food Basket in Sun Valley and Valverde

Sun Valley and Valverde sit next to each other on the west side of Denver along the Platte. There’s a lot going on in these two neighborhoods. From large commercial cold-pack freezers to large income-qualified neighborhoods, walking through these two areas is not like anywhere else in Denver.

Sun Valley’s boundaries are W 20th Ave, W 6th Ave, Federal and the Platte River/I25. Valverde sits south with the same west/east boundaries, W 6th Ave is the northern boundary and W Alameda as its southern boundary. Here is a 4.5 mile walk through this very interesting pair of neighborhoods. This is an interesting day hike near Denver, in fact it’s right IN Denver.

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Change is a’Coming

Sun Valley has mostly income-qualified homes. The majority of the residents in Sun Valley rent; the remaining homes are mostly those that survived the 1965 flood that took out most of the neighborhood (see the Auraria urban hike.)

The Weir Gulch runs through the neighborhood, ending its long east-west meander into the Platte River. Along the Weir Gulch, you’ll find spots to dip your toes in the water. Weir Gulch travels across the neighborhood, connecting Barnum Park with the Platte River.

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In the northern area of the neighborhood falls the Lakewood Gulch, which also empties into the Platte. You can the Lakewood Gulch for many miles to the west, taking you throgh Paco Sanchez Park all the way to Lakewood.

Between the two gulches, the City wants to redevelop the entire area.

The New RiNo?

Some are calling the Sun Valley area the next RiNo. The City wants to rebuild the neighborhood to include a mixed-income residential area similar to other redevelopments. The residents will be offered the chance to live in other income-qualified housing or be given vouchers. The new units will have both market-rate pricing and workforce housing. In addition, Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf interactive art exhibit is making its own Denver appearance here.

Regardless of what happens, Sun Valley is the place to watch.

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Packing It All In

In the meantime, south of Sun Valley is the food basket of Denver, Valverde. Once the land of celery and wheat farms like its southern neighbor, Athmar Park, Valverde is now where Denver’s food distributes. Giant warehouses and their accompanying semis move turkeys, chickens, mushrooms, popsicles, Mexican food, and almost every other food in and out of freezers into their local retailers from the west side of the neighborhood. Walking through Valverde awakens every smell you could think of–from sriracha to white bread!

But Play Ball While You’re There!

On its east side, you’ll find some nicely appointed ball fields. Valverde Park is a dream come true that was funded by Denver media and cable mogul, Bill Daniels, who bequeathed the funds in his will to the Police Athletic League to build and continue to finance the complex. The fields themselves hold the name Donnie Young Fields, after an officer shot in the line of duty. The accompanying basketball court, also funded by Daniels, was named after Nuggets player and PAL alumni, Chauncey Billups.

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A Few Pedestrian Rules

Walking through Valverde and Sun Valley can be a bit of an adventure. Sidewalks are few, and semi trucks are many. As a few good precautions, remember these pedestrians rules so that you remain safe:

  • Walk against traffic on the edge of the street
  • Cross at intersections or at crosswalks
  • Wear brightly colored clothing
  • If conditions require, wear spikes for icy situations
  • Make eye contact with drivers
  • Turn off all headphones

When doing this 4.5 mile walk at your own risk, be sure to follow basic pedestrian walking laws. Where there are no sidewalks, walk against traffic. With the large semis traversing the area, rails crisscrossing the warehouses, and many intersections, keep your eyes open and pay attention.

The Route (click for interactive map):

Park at Valverde Park; the closest address is 1237 W Cedar Ave. Walk west to Raritan St. Take a right. At W Irvington Pl, take a left.

Take a right at Tejon St, being careful to walk against traffic. Tejon turns into W 2nd Ave. At Yuma, take a right. Follow Yuma as it turns into W 5th Ave. At Bryant St, take a right.

Go under 6th Ave. You’ll exit Valverde and enter Sun Valley. At 7th Ave, take a left. At Canosa St, take a right and then at W 8th, take a left.

Go north on Decatur. Right before you get to the Sun Valley homes, you’ll see a black asphalt trail going to your right. This is Weir Gulch. Walk on it just a hundred feet, then veer to your right. You’ll be walking on the sidewalk between the Gulch and Sun Valley Homes.

Take a left on Bryant St. Walk through the neighborhood, and then take a right on W 11th Ave. Enjoy the public art on the south and east sides of Fairview Elementary. Take a right on 11th, walking towards the Platte.

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At the Platte, take a right. You’ll cross where the Weir flows into the Platte. Continue along the Platte River trail, taking each bridge as it comes along. You’ll cross the Platte once, pass the old Denver Water building, and then you’ll cross the Platte again. After the second bridge, you’ll arrive back to where you started after passing Sun Spot, the large public art installation of a dog in front of the animal shelter.

Walking through Denver’s Artsy Food Basket in Sun Valley and Valverde 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!

Wasn’t this a fun walk?

~See you on the trail