A Trifecta of an Urban Hike in south Denver
Down in south Denver, four neighborhoods abut each other near the University of Denver, but don’t confuse them with the DU’s neighborhood, University. Surrounding the University is a set of three neighborhoods, University Park, University Hills and Wellshire.
The boundaries for University Park include I-25 and Yale, Colorado Blvd and University Blvd. South of University Park, you’ll find Wellshire neighborhood’s boundaries of Yale and Hampden, University, and Colorado.
To the east of Wellshire, you’ll find the triangular shaped University Hills neighborhood. It boundaries are I25, Colorado and Hampden.
This 3.75-mile walk through these three neighborhoods of University Park, Wellshire, and University Hills shows of some great urban features out in suburbia.
The E Harvard Gulch Trail (not to be confused with the W Harvard Gulch Trail in College View) runs through the middle of University Park and terminates its eastern end right near Colorado Blvd. You’ll begin this walk along the Gulch, admiring the odd mix of small 1960s homes next to giant homes on the same footprints of the smaller homes.
It appears your choice to live here is either a super big house or a very small one. The Harvard Gulch, by the way, runs from Harvard Gulch Park for almost 2.6 miles along a concrete path.
Along the Gulch, you’ll find the very cute Robert McWilliams park. McWilliams, a DU alum, was the longest sitting judge in Colorado. He was quite the man about time, belonging to many prestigious organizations and leading many of them.
Mid-Century Reappears in University Hills
You’ll make your way across Colorado Blvd into the University Hills neighborhood, where more mid-century moderns show up, reminding you of a walk through Harvey Park. These homes appear to be a bit later than Harvey’s, but they still had the same retro feel. If you like mid-century homes, the best neighborhoods to see them are in Harvey Park, Virginia Village, and Washington Virginia Vale. University Hills is a nice runner up.
This walk takes you on the south side of Mamie D Eisenhower Park along the High Line Canal and its trail. Mamie was from Denver and grew up near the present day Kent Day School. Although she and Dwight at one time had decided to retire here, they changed their minds. None the less, they often visited and frequently went to the chapel in Lowry, now called the Eisenhower Chapel, and one that you’ll pass on the Lowry neighborhood walk.
The Mamie D Eisenhower Park, perhaps the park with the greenest and lushest grass in Denver, has a secret bench on the backside of the park along the High Line Canal Trail. The historical bench tells the story of how the High Line Canal Trail got designated a national trail and has a wonderful perspective of time. See if you can find this treat, which is on the route below.
A Golf Course from History
On the route, you’ll cross over Colorado again, back to your start through the Wellshire neighborhood South of University Park at the southern end of the Wellshire neighborhood is the Wellshire Golf Course. Folks walking the High Line Canal Trail must detour around the golf course, as it’s not accessible to hikers. (In the near future, a tunnel will go under the intersection of Colorado and Hampden, carrying hikers and bikers safely under the crossings.) Owned by the City of Denver, the golf course is the only Donald Ross design west of the Mississippi. Ben Hogan has graced its links!
As you finish your walk, having been through three neighborhoods and a large commercial area, you can enjoy the small tot lot where you started, finding dinosaurs to ride!
The Route (click for interactive route):
Start at 2699 S Fillmore St. Find the Harvard Gulch running through the park, and head to the left (east) along the trail. Follow it, crossing several residential streets, until you get to Jackson Street. You’ll take a right on Jackson as the Gulch ends just 20 or so feet past Jackson.
Take a left on E Yale Ave. Cross Colorado, take a left, then take a right on E Yale Ave again. Pass all the shopping on the right, then take a right on S Clermont Dr.
Take a right on S Dahlia St, then take a right onto the High Line Canal trail just after passing Eisenhower Park on your left. You’ll be heading west with the park on your right. Stop in the rec center if you need to use the restrooms.
Take a right on Colorado. Take a left on E Darthmouth Ave, crossing Colorado. Take a right on Monroe St then a left on E Cornell Ave.
Take a right on S St Paul then a left on E Bates Ave. Take a right on S Fillmore, crossing into the park. Ride a dragon, then return back to where you started.
A Trifecta of a Denver Urban Hike 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.
I hope to see you on the trail.