Four Miles from Downtown, Pioneer Yourself through Washington Virginia Vale
Washington Virginia Vale: it’s a long name for a neighborhood. Although the area contains Denver’s oldest home at 715 South Forest Street, the current configuration of this neighborhood occurred in the 1950s after over 20 annexations. Let’s imagine the name came from a compromise during the annexations where different smaller communities from Washington Park, Virginia Village and the now non-existent Vale possibly merged together. It’s a good guess.
Nonetheless, the neighborhood’s boundaries put the neighborhood squarely next to many things. Running on the west side of Washington Virginia Vale is Cherry Creek. Leetsdale splits the middle; Alameda Avenue is to the north and South Quebec Street is the eastern boundary. This Denver ‘hood claims Four Mile Historic Park, and leaves out Glendale.
The Last Stop
Washington Virginia Vale shares much of the same history as Virginia Village, its next door neighbor. Before either neighborhood appeared, you’ll have to start with the Brook Ranch. Its claim to fame was that it was four miles from downtown and the last stage stop on the Cherokee trail. Through a long series of Denver annexations, the Ranch shrank to just around 12 acres, which is now the historic pioneer park, Four Mile Park.
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Four Mile Park is a must-stop for all Denver Public School students. Their annual field trip takes them to barns, sheds, and historic homes on the Four Mile Park property where they get a taste for pioneer life and living. You, too, can stop in for a visit.
Great Neighbors from All Over
The Mexican, Peruvian and Guatemalan Consulates sit here in this neighborhood, although the consulates don’t seem to be influencing the restaurants or the local neighborhood makeup. But, interesting, a great little French bakery does tempt you with buttery croissants at Les Delices des Paris.
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Most of this neighborhood’s homes on the southwestern side of Leetsdale are similarly designed brick cottages. On the north side of Leetsdale are larger custom homes.
Parks, Lakes, and Creeks!
The western edge has several super parks, including the large Garland Park with a fun lake supporting large geese populations. Many people might think of this park as a sports park, and that’s a good thing due to its namesake, Dave Garland, “the Saint of Denver Sports.” Garland befriended all baseball and basketball kids, advocated for their well-being, and had zero enemies. The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame inducted him, University of Denver awarded him, and the community embraced him. Never did a kid go to sleep in Denver without a baseball mitt wish fulfilled by Garland.
In Garland Park, you’ll find the renovated Lollipop Lake, named after the shape. Ducks and geese stake claim, but so do egrets, cormorants and the occasional pelican blue heron or night heron. Flocks of shrilling red-winged blackbirds shriek from the lake’s east side in its reeds.
The Cherry Creek and its trail make the western boundary of the neighborhood, offering up a walk or ride to either downtown or the Cherry Creek Reservoir. Be careful of fast-paced cyclists training for centurions and biking commuters making their way to/fro work. Walkers may enjoy walking on the goat, dirt trail next to the paved trail.
To the southeast, you’ll find Jacobs Park. When Frances Weisbart Jacobs arrived in Denver in 1872, she couldn’t get over how the citizens of Denver ignored the destitute and sick tuberculosis patients coughing and hacking their way from street to tent to soup kitchen. So, she began bringing them coal, food, and medicines, nursing them back to health and advocating on their behalf. While her husband owned OK Clothing Store, she made her benevolent way through Denver, ultimately starting what has become National Jewish Health. Highly honored by many organizations, including induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, you can also find a stained glass window of Jacobs in the Colorado state capitol rotunda.
Thus, although the neighborhood does feel like busy, traffic-laden Leetsdale is the belt around the neighborhood’s middle, there’s good walking to be had. You might enjoy this 2.5 mile loop curated below.
The Route (click for interactive route):
Start at 1095 S Krameria St. Walk north to E Exposition Ave. Take a left on Holly, crossing Leetsdale.
Go up the hill, then take a left on E Dakota Ave. Take a left on S Forest St. Cross Leetsdale again. At E Exposition, take a right.
On your left will be the Four Mile Historic Park. If the visitor’s center is open, be sure to stop in and enjoy Denver’s early history. You’ll get the chance to experience life as a pioneer and learn the fascinating history of Denver’s oldest house. You might even get a chance to take a wagon ride! When you’re finished, exit the center and go behind it to the Cherry Creek trail. Head southeasterly on the trail.
Cross Holly St into Garland Park. Head to the east toward the ball fields and around the northeast side of the lake back to where you started.
Four Miles from Downtown, Pioneer Yourself through Washington Virginia Vale and Support 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.
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!