Friday, March 4, 2016

Walking Time in Downtown Denver

Looking downstream along Cherry Creek Trail
On some winter days, the weather is so warm in Denver, you start to think you are living somewhere else. Then you step into the wind, or see the mountains to the west and shrug your shoulders at the dream.
It was 71 degrees one weekend day last week, overcast and breezy.  A "shorts" winter day, with just about everyone in town outside, enjoying it. Some went as far as sleeveless tops and running shorts, others with their winter coats open or slung over their shoulders. On the trails, bicycles were thicker than walkers, whooshing by close enough to feel them.

It is clear enough to see the bottom of Cherry Creek
I had 45 minutes to spare today, and walked along the Cherry Creek Trail through downtown Denver. Flanked by Speer street on both sides, the creek bisects the paired 4 lane road through the center of town. Once I descended a ramp to the trail, the street noise all but disappeared. The sound of the rushing creek was soft and soothing. Couples, lovers, friends, families, co-workers and solo walkers like me moved along with the water. Bicyclists whooshed by in both directions. A couple bicycles carried wireless speakers blasting music along with them, the Doppler Effect raising up as they approached and falling back down as they passed you. The sky was hazy gray overhead, with few spotty clouds and occasional blue spaces. Ducks swam both up and down the stream with children transfixed on them, parents hanging on to their charges tightly.

Just one of the many bicycles on the trail today
One of many No Camping signs
Camping along the trail must be a problem, as signs saying "No Camping" were everywhere. However, the homeless population was along the sidewalks above the trail today. I walked a couple blocks from where I parked to the trail, crossed Speer and hiked downstream to where the bicycles and walkers split, with a trail on each side of Cherry Creek for them. Here I turned around and hiked back up the gentle slope. I paused under a few bridges in the shade to listen to the water running over the stones and marveled at the modern, straightened creek. Imagining how it appeared before Mayor Speer commissioned the road construction to restrain the creek and create this lovely inter-city park, I remember reading how Denver began at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the Platte River. Back then, a couple large, fallen Cottonwood trees were the only natural bridges across the creek, and most everyone used them to go back and forth. Horses and the few wagons just forded the creek at various spots. Four or five log houses, some with canvas roofs and all with dirt floors were the only permanent homes then, the others were tents and tee-pees. Looking up at the high rise buildings that make up Denver today, it is not too hard to think we may have lost something along the way. Here's a link to Denver History.

I wish Denver would look at a different way to handle storm water than pouring it into the creek
Many bridges cross Cherry Creek along the trail
I left the Cherry Creek Trail a block early and walked around some of the historic buildings along the way back to work. My little 45 minute walk through downtown Denver had been pleasant, reminiscent, and fulfilling.

These sound breaks are pleasant
Maps are HERE. To get there, drive to downtown Denver. Park along Speer Boulevard, safely cross the street and walk down one of the ramps to the trail. The creek grade is very gentle, so pick your upstream or downstream direction, and walk. Do carry water with you. I suggest parking near Confluence Park and walking along that section into town and back. There is a Flagship REI store near there that has a coffee shop inside the historic building. Rental bicycles are available near the trail. I saw many people riding rental bikes this fine day.

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