A Good Urban Walk in Denver, Central Park (formerly Stapleton)
When thinking about Colorado, I have to think about the difference between walking and hiking. In my mind, a hike involves putting on a particular pair of shoes such as hiking boots, driving to a particular location, bringing water bottles, snacks, and a backpack, and then heading out along a dirt-based trail. I love to hike, and Colorado has some of the best hiking in the world.
But this blog is about walking.
As opposed to hiking, when I think about walking, I think about my shoes first. Most the time I can go for a walk in the shoes that are currently on my feet. Although I do prefer to put on a pair of walking shoes or walking sandals, most of the time the shoes on my feet are sufficient. Like hiking, I generally bring water with me, but when on a walk, I know I can generally survive without water or I can find water along my walk.
Thus, let’s talk about my favorite walk in Colorado. This walk I do every Wednesday at sunrise, weather independent. The only time I won’t walk this walk is in the ice, but snow, sleet nor rain keeps me away. I am often joined by other walkers on this jaunt, making the walk even more enjoyable. (Sign up at www.walk2connect.com.)
We leave from the Northfield Starbucks and cross into Conservatory Green Neighborhood of Stapleton (now called Cental Park). This newly built neighorhood enjoys the luxuries of new neighborhoods in Denver, with wide side walks, linear parks, and interesting site lines. In addition, the theme of the neighborhood is gardens, and many public vegetable gardens grow along the walk. In particular, we get to see the strawberry patch wax and wane throughout the seasons, the public gardens blossom with apple trees and tomato plants, and the open spaces enjoy weathered tree branches used as balancing beams where child play.
Note: In the summer of 2020, the Stapleton residents renamed their neighborhood Central Park.
After going through Conservatory Green, the walk meanders through Pond Park which is squeezed between I-70 and Colorado’s largest Bass Pro Shop. None the less, the aspen trees color our annual views, prairie dogs bark at us, and coyotes sniff out our trail. This park, although right in the middle of a major highway interchange, feels like a hidden oasis. In addition, depending on the season, the sun often rises through the aspen, making amazing picture-taking opportunities.
We then leave the park and walk through Northfield Mall. This outdoor mall has pleasant, wide sidewalks and piped in music. The rhythm of our walk often changes as we window shop, listen to the music, and enjoy each other’s company. Being early in the morning, we share the mall with no one but the occasional groundskeeper or security guard. It’s a nice change of pace to a typical mall experience.
After 2.5 miles and a complete 60 minutes, we end up back at Starbucks. I really enjoy this walk. Because I do it every Wednesday and generally don’t vary the walk except to go in reverse or perhaps to sidestep snow blowers or grass cutters, there’s a comfort in seeing the weekly and seasonal changes. It helps to remind me that walking is a good event no matter the weather or who joins you. Will you join me next Wednesday?